“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. –Luke 21:25-26
Stanislov Petrov. Does that name ring a bell? He was a good, good man.
We found out this week that he had passed away back in May, in a little town near Moscow. By accounts he was a mild-mannered man, who lived a quiet life.
Oh, and he saved the world.
In 1983, according to rt.com, he was working in Russia at an early warning bunker, when the long range radar reported several missiles coming from the U.S. The protocol would have been to announce an impending attack, leading to a nuclear response from the U.S.S.R.
Something didn’t feel right to Petrov. He’d been trained that if the U.S. were to attack, it would have been a bombardment of missiles, not just a handful. So he waited.
The missiles turned out to be the sun’s reflection on some clouds. Stanislov Petrov’s clear headedness averted global nuclear war.
I don’t know how to feel about this true story. Should I be glad there are intelligent people like Petrov in the world, or should I be terrified to think that just one person stood between a cold war and certain death?
Back in the 80’s I was terrified of nuclear annihilation. The fear has faded over time, but I don’t know why. We’ve still got enough missiles pointed at each other to destroy the planet many times over. Though we don’t like to think about it, the end of the world is only a few desperate choices away.
There are actually some folks who seem preoccupied by thinking about the end of the world. A guy named David Meade, who studies numerology, predicts that the scripture above predicts the ending of the world, on Saturday, September 23rd. He thinks some rogue planet is going to crash into the Earth.
Not even Stanislov Petrov would be able to put a stop to that.
To Meade, I say: Hogwash. This is yet another poorly constructed prediction about the end of the world. But it does make me think. In many ways, like Petrov, we do have some say when it comes to “the end”. We have it within our grasp to avoid certain death by caring for our environment, ending world hunger, fighting disease, and even blowing up an occasional asteroid, if you’re a fan of the movie Armageddon.
And as long as we have men and women with integrity and common sense, we may even be able to keep our fingers off the button.
But even as comforting as that notion is, the truth is that some day we’ll all die, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Maybe all at once, I suppose, but more likely one at a time. Remember, 120 years from now, none of us will be here.
How’s that for certain death? Yikes.
Ready for some Good News? Whenever it is we come to that moment between life and death, there will be a good man waiting there for us. Better, even, than Stanislov Petrov. This man will do even more for us than averting certain death.
He will take us by the hand,
and lead us into Certain Life.
Have a great week,