Certain Death

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 “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,
(especially Saturday)

Mitch

inhishands

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alien-meteor

A near collision with a rogue meteor…
Blizzards bring whole cities to a standstill…
The Pope resigns and conspiracy theorists have a field day…
The U.S. faces another doomsday economic deadline…

No, this isn’t a list of Best Picture nominees, it’s just another month here on planet earth.

We seem to have a lot of these events.  You notice?

Things like these happen and we put the suffix “-gate”, or “-mageddon”, or “pocalypse” to them: Snowpocalypse.  Benghazigate. Tax-mageddon.

It’s as if everything that happens has to be a ’10’ on a 10-point scale!

Are we really living in such dramatic times?  Or is it the media, shoving every current event down our throats?

Or is it because of our own insatiable desire for intensity that we push things so far into the red?

I’m sick of it.

I mean, a person can only hear about “Armageddon” so often before it sounds more like “Blah-maggedon”.  Yes, yes, we know, end of the world.  Yawn.

What’s to be done?

I’d just cut “Armageddon” out of my vocabulary, but I can’t do that.

Because I’ve been there.

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This is Tel Megiddo, in Israel.  aka “Har Megiddo”, aka “Armageddon”.  It is the site the Bible refers to when it talks about the famous end-times battle between good and evil.

There’s a reason Armageddon was chosen for this climactic battle.  As archaeologists have dug down through layers of history at this now historic location, they found evidence of many different civilizations who ruled this mountain over the years.

Actually, 26 layers.  26 civilizations.

That’s right, dating back from thousands of years before Christ, this strategic hill in Israel has been conquered and populated 26 different times.

The top layer of the hill is believed to be the stables for King Ahaz’s horses. But even as recently as World War I there was fighting to defend this choice piece of real estate.

In other words, this site that has seen centuries–millenia–of high drama.

You could say this strategic hill made a name for itself.

Despite a strong rainstorm when I was there, the place seemed pretty peaceful these days.  But it serves as a reminder to me that life on this planet has always had its news-worthy events.

Fair enough.  I’ll keep my eye on the headlines, and remember that somewhere in the world there’s always a drama happening.  There is always a battle between good and evil.  It always feels like the end of the world, for somebody.

But I’ve decided to put the bulk of my focus on other stuff.  On discipleship stuff.

On the NOT-the-end-of-the-world stuff.

We must serve as day-to-day disciples of Christ in the lives we lead and the lives we touch, with the same intensity and drive as the latest headline or Hollywood blockbuster.

Let’s just try to do it with a little less “catastrophe”…

and a little more “human interest”.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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meteor graphic from www.mhpbooks.com