I was like every other kid growing up; I loved fireworks. We lived on a little cul-de-sac in Ballardvale, Massachusetts. My twin brother Jim and I were most anxious for something to do one hot summer day. Just down the street from us were two brothers our same age. As we gathered together in the woods across from our house, one mentioned he had the mother of all firecrackers. Instantaneously that pronouncement piqued our interest. As they ran home to retrieve it, my brother and I ran to our house to secure the matches. They always hung in a black tin on the kitchen wall. We grabbed enough to start ten fires without being noticed and headed quickly back to the woods.
As the boys approached us, one of them held the explosive device in his hand. Upon closer inspection, we learned it wasn’t a firecracker but a large bullet. Never having seen one before, I asked the boys, “Well, how does it explode?” To which they stated excitedly, “You have to put a fire under it.” It had been a dry week so the heavily carpeted forest was full of a boundless supply of dry pine needles. We hurriedly gathered bunches together in a pile and placed the bullet on it. Being all of six years old, I was breathless with the excitement of hearing a big BANG! As I tell this story I can’t help but shudder what we did next. Gathering on all four sides of the pine needles and the bullet, we each took match after match and tried unsuccessfully to light them. It was useless, they would glow for a second and quickly die out. I knew how easy pine needles caught on fire, so why not now? Why didn’t they burn like they always did?
I’m convinced today that it was the hand of my angel that was watching over me. There was no reason in the world why a parched tinder full of pine needles wouldn’t ignite. Dejected that our experiment failed, we went home never to try a repeat of that foolish thing again. Weeks later as we mentioned the dud in passing to my parents, I could see the color drain from my Mother’s face. One of us (my brother and I) could very well have died that day.
I’m reminded again and again the truths in Psalm 91:11, “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” I’m so grateful that God is so faithful and to this day still covers stupidity.