Jeff Hart was living a relatively obscure life a few weeks ago. The 40 year old contractor from Denver was drilling water wells for U.S. Army bases in Afghanistan 35 days ago. But then he received a call from the country of Chile.
Since that fateful call, he has spent 33 days on his feet drilling a hole that will ultimately provide a way out for 33 trapped miners. He told the media this weekend that he thought his heart was stopping when he felt “an unexplained pop” just before the drill broke though into an underground chamber. News reports indicate that miners’ relatives crowded around Hart on Saturday, hugging and posing for pictures with him. I am not surprised.
When I read on Friday that a breakthrough was imminent, I soon realized that my excitement was premature. Leaders supervising the rescue operation would have to make another crucial decision. Do they go on and attempt to pull the miners out through an unlined shaft, or do they spend a few more days dropping a medal casing into the hole that Hart drilled. There are significant risks associated with both procedures. It was not an easy decision, but apparently it has been decided to line at least a portion of the shaft. Chile’s mining minister is saying now that they hope to start bringing the trapped miners to the surface by Wednesday of this week.
Two things stand out to me as this hair raising rescue process reaches a climatic point. First of all: Rescue missions are seldom clear cut. There are tricky choices to make. There are considerable risks associated with each of those choices. Lives are at stake. The drillers in Chile were quoted as saying: “If you’re drilling for oil and you lose the hole, it’s different. This time there’s people down below.”
I find that principle to be true in dealing with all kinds of people related issues. If I am trying to help someone who is struggling with addictions or another person whose family life is coming apart there is a lot at stake. There are generally lots options for those rescue missions. There are also risks associated with each of those choices.
The second thing that stands out to me is: We never know when our talents are going to be used in a great way. Mr. Hart is being referred to as the best in his business. I have no reason to think that is not true! When he woke up one morning a little over a month ago, he had no idea he would soon be flying to Chile to help save 33 lives. His talents were needed and he arose to the occasion.
What would we do without unassuming, decent people who arise to the occasion when needed? I am going to pause for a few moments today and think about the people in my sphere of influence that are making a difference as they employ their God given talents. And I plan to express a prayer of thanksgiving for a certain water well driller from Denver, Colorado.