At 4:10 am, on April 29, 1903, seventy to eighty million tonnes of rock slid off the face of Turtle Mountain, killing approximately 75 people and trapping many in the little town of Frank, Alberta. Amongst those trapped by the Frank slide were 17 miners who took 12 hours to dig out of their entombment. The elation of reaching daylight was short lived as their eyes adjusted and the panorama of their devastated town came into focus. These men were the last of the survivors to be found - that is until Charlie was discovered.
About a month after that fateful day, and at the end of efforts to reopen the main entrance to the Frank mine, Charlie the mine horse was found alive. Dwelling in complete darkness, he had endured by drinking seepage water, eating the bark off of mine timbers, and by breathing air from the vertical escape shaft the 17 trapped miners had dug to escape that first day. If horses can experience elation, Charlie must have experienced it then - that is until he died the same day from an overdose of oats and brandy given to him by his rescuers. What testing could not take, celebration robbed from Charlie.
Sadly, Charlie's end is not unlike the experience of many Christians who have survived an episode of testing and darkness in life. They may have been in a workplace that sucked the joy out of making a living. Maybe they had an extended illness accompanied by tests and treatments worse than the disease itself. Or perhaps there was a long, lonely wait - infused with fear and anxiousness - to meet the love they'd always dreamt of. These depths, or others like them, gave rise to many cries to God during long hours of pitch-black waiting, spawned a hunger for deliverance that seepage and bark could never quench, and evoked declarations of lifelong trust and devotion if God answered.
And then, sudden rescue! Along came a new and better job, a clean bill of health after a last chance treatment, or Mr. or Mrs. Right moved in next door and dropped by to deliver misdirected mail. Glory to God! Hallelujah!
Jubilation! And then. . . I can't be in church because I'm working overtime on Sunday to make a good impression for my new boss! No time to read my Bible because my flower garden didn't get planted when I was sick! It's ok that we are having sex because we love each other and this is the real thing and doesn't God want me to be happy anyway?
When darkness ends and God's deliverance arrives, go easy on the oats and brandy.
Pastor Tim Davis, Copyright 2004