In 1961 a disaster of monumental proportions struck a nation.
People gazed at the spectacle open-mouthed realizing that they were totally helpless and unable to do anything about it. It was a giant wall of flames shooting 700 feet in the air. It was coming from a ruptured gas well. All that remained of the rig was a melted shell. The inferno created sandstorms while burning 550 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. So much heat was generated from the fire that the surrounding sand turned to glass. No one could even approach the flames, much less put them out. Astronaut John Glenn said he could see the fire from 200 miles above the earth during his 1962 spaceflight.
In addition to the fire, the gas escaping from the well was coming out with such great pressure that it could cut a person in two. An eye witness said of the fire’s blowout, “The inferno gave a roar so deafening that it reached into the core of every man’s soul.”
They knew of only one man who might be able to solve this crisis. So they appealed to him to come and help them. The heat was so intense that while he was still five hundred feet away from the blaze the wheels on his car caught fire. He surveyed the situation and designed a strategy to put out the fire, which many saw as a hopeless situation. If he failed, experts calculated that the fire would burn for over a hundred years until the world’s largest natural gas field was depleted.
It took this man six months to carefully work out a strategy. Many said the problem was impossible to solve because it was in the Sahara desert where there was no water, and equipment that was needed did even not exist.
Finally the day came. On May 28, 1962, he put his plan into action and, to everyone’s amazement, the fire was extinguished. How did he do it? The expert Paul Adair, or “Red” Adair as they called him, designed a fire hose that could pump forty-thousand gallons of water a minute and shoot it three to four hundred feet in the air. The water was drawn from three specially constructed reservoirs that were each ten feet deep and the size of a foot ball field.
At the given signal, “Red’s” trained men rushed toward the flaming tower as he doused them and everything around them in water. They carefully placed explosives around the base of the fire. When it was ignited, it sucked the oxygen from the air which caused the fire to go out. The men then removed the well head and capped it. “Red” Adair, of hero status, now became an icon as one who could put out impossible fires.
However, there is a bigger fire that has been raging for well over a hundred years that no man has been able to put out. It is described in James: “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell” (James 3:6). No man can tame this inferno because its source is the heart of a man and until his heart is transformed the fire will rage on.
The strategy for victory is the same—making our heart a vast reservoir for the water of God’s Word and thus put out the fire of our tongue. Jesus promises, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38) and “the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).