Blaise Pascal was quite the human being. Born in 1623, Pascal’s mother died when he was 3, and his father moved the family from Clermont-Ferrand, France, to Paris, where he homeschooled Blaise and his sister.
By age 10, Pascal was doing original experiments in mathematics and physical science. To help his father, who was a tax collector, he invented the first calculating device (some call it the first “computer”).
With this last invention, he had made a name for himself (at age 19!) and began his richly diverse scientific career. He tested the theories of Galileo and Torricelli (who discovered the principles of the barometer), culminating in his famous law of hydraulics.
He wrote important papers on the vacuum (not the cleaning your carpet kind), on the weight and density of air, and the arithmetic triangle. He developed the theory of probability, which is still used today. He invented the syringe, the hydraulic lift, and is credited with inventing the wristwatch and mapping out the first bus route in Paris. See I told you he was quite a person!
Yet he was also a committed Christian (Roman Catholic). He spent many hours studying the Christian faith in the same way he studied the things mentioned above.
It is one thing to be knowledgeable and quite another to know God.
One evening in 1654 he met God and this is what he wrote about the experience…
The year of grace 1654.
Monday, 23 November, . . .
From about half-past ten in the evening until about half past midnight.
The God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob.
Not of the philosophers and intellectuals.
Certitude, certitude, feeling, joy, peace . . .joy, joy, joy, tears of joy. . .
Renunciation, total and sweet.
Complete submission to Jesus Christ. . .
He recorded the experience (called the “Mé-morial”) on a piece of parchment, which he carried with him the rest of his life, sewed inside his coat.
Can you imagine? A moment so profound that you write it down and carry that piece of paper with you for the rest of your life. This moment “rocked his world.”
It was not (in his words) a philosophical or intellectual encounter. It was way more than that! It was an intimate, emotional, up close confrontation!!!! Blaise Paschal encountered the God of Pentecost! He experienced the grace, tenderness and power of the Holy Spirit.
On Sunday we will again hear the story of the giving of the Holy Spirit to that small group of believers as found in Acts 2. My hope and prayer for all of you is that you feel the touch of that same Spirit promised to us. It is good to hear the story again but it is better to experience the Holy Spirit in our lives.
When you believed, you were marked in Christ with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13b-14
God bless you,