On the evening of Wednesday, December 8th, 1742, John Lyman’s Northampton home burned to the ground. Tragically, his two young daughters perished in the fire.
So far as I can tell, John Lyman was a normal citizen of the town and his story would have long been forgotten except for a man silhouetted in background of the smoldering remains. Looking intently into the scene was a local pastor, Jonathan Edwards.
And he was not alone.
Edwards had walked to the consumed home after gathering his children and a number of local children. His purpose was pastoral, to bring these young souls close to the voice of God.
That same day (Thursday) Edwards preached on Micah 6:9. His sermon had two main points: “I. God’s voice sometimes cries to a city or town in the awful rebukes of his providence. II. The men of wisdom shall see God’s name.” In the rising embers of tragedy, Edwards was encouraging his children to listen for God’s voice. The wise will see, the wise will hear.
Surveying the 35W bridge collapsed here in Minnesota was a similar experience. All the victims have been removed from the scene. The cars are gone and work is well under way to remove the concrete and steel. The once carefully-guarded scene is now open for the public, and Saturday I took my wife and kids downtown to walk over a parallel bridge and look 60-feet down into the valley of destruction.
Personally, it was an opportunity for my son (Jonathan Edwards) to see the extent of the damage and be freshly reminded of frailty. Thirteen people died here including a pregnant mother, her unborn child, and two-year-old daughter. No one, not even the youngest, are exempt from the wages of sin (Rom. 6:23).
Some will see the tragedy and close their ears. Some will flatly deny God is here. But He is here, He has acted, His is working and continues speaking. My prayer is that God was actively speaking to my son and into the lives of the children overlooking the scene.
Edwards reminds us to use tragedy to love young souls. God is speaking and the wise shall hear His voice.
Does He speak to you?