The Phoenix Bird
Being from Phoenix, AZ myself makes the Phoenix Bird myth special. I’ve seen the “fire bird” symbol on police cars & city buildings etc. as far back as I can remember. But the legend of this famous bird goes back 5000 plus years! Chinese, Egyptian, Arabian, Native American, and others have records of ancient Phoenix bird myths & legends. This bird was rare & long lived – 500 years, with only one living at a time. As large as an eagle, it lived on dew, killing nothing. The Chinese myth included character elements of high virtue & grace, power & prosperity, but a peaceful creature. It was considered the king of birds. Towards the end of its life, the Phoenix bird would build a pyre nest of aromatic branches & spices, then set it on fire with himself in it. Some legends indicate a rebirth of the Phoenix as it rose from the ashes & midst of the flames. This info is basically from the internet.
Now for decades I have thought of myself as a kind of “Phoenix Bird,” especially the part of rising again from the ashes & flames. But recently it’s become clear that the REAL Phoenix Bird is a character I met over 20 years ago, Police & U.S. Army Chaplain John South. This man had serious challenges from age 7 or so from an abusive step father. He joined the Army in ’66 to be in the infantry, then got seriously shot in Viet Nam. After discharge became a police officer & dealt with suicide weekly. Sadly, John lost that tough career to war injury health issues. He then entered intense clergy study to become a Chaplain. He rose from the ashes & flames of serious challenges to shine better each time. John humbly gives the credit to his faith in Christ – the essence of HOPE. Dr. John J. South recently published his 163 page excellent book on the subject of Depression, despondency, & suicide – “A Journey Through PTSD,” published by Life Guides Press, Mesa, AZ ISBN: 978-0-9965066-0-1. See also “The Chaplains” link 70.
Well, it’s not my purpose to shine a spot-light on my old friend (& boss) Col. John South. Actually I’m using his success story as an example of what God can do when we are down & out. A 50’s era Christian hymn had these lyrics “It is no secret what God can do . . .” THAT is the appeal of this Gospel-note essay. When we get to the end of our rope & strength in the “valley of the shadow of death,” we can hear His voice and look up. With His touch & Divine Guidance, & REGENERATION, Christ brings us into the best version of ourselves. The hymn above continues to say “What He has done for others, He will do for you.” Stuart Hamblen 1951
- Isaiah 40:31 “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (The eagle compares to the Phoenix bird.)
- Habakkuk 3:19 “God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like hinds feet, he makes me tread upon my high places.” (The best version of YOU.)
- John 1:12 “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God;”
- Romans 8:28 “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”
- Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things in him (Christ) who strengthens me.”
This old world is tough & most honest souls will admit they have “burned” feathers. But there is HOPE in Jesus Christ. The Phoenix Bird myth can find personal application in anyone’s life if we only receive Christ & draw on His strength & power. It is then we can begin to realize more of those virtues above – grace, power, prosperity, & peaceful spirit. Choose Jesus, He is alive. See also “ The Eagle” link 50.
OTHER interesting titles: www.gospelnotes.net – index is link 1 * * F. J. Stone * *