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

EVEN

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As for me, I will always have hope;
    I will praise you more and more.
Psalm 71:14

Don’t despair.

Even if the world today seemed to conspire against you.

Even if the work outweighed the play.

Even if it seemed nobody spoke your language.

Even if the Kingdom seems farther away than it did yesterday.

And don’t give up.

Even when you were embarrassed or shamed.

Even when the nightly news cut you to the quick.

Even when the momentum is pushing in the wrong direction.

Even when everything just hurts.

For the Lord is our God

Even at the gates of destruction.

Even at the end of time.

Even at the darkest dusk.

Even at your side.

And our God is good!

Even in spite of it all.

Even in your heart, and mine, and theirs.

Even in this very moment.

Even in ways you cannot fathom.

Rejoice!  Do not despair!

Have a great week,

Mitch

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I’d give this devotion a 4.

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Come in!

Have a seat.

Allow me to predict your future for you.

You have two options:

BEST CASE SCENARIO: What’s next for you will be AWESOME and lead you to a lot of happiness in your future. Congrats! OR…

WORST CASE SCENARIO: Whatever is next for you will be AWFUL and lead to a lot of struggle in your future. Sorry!

That’s about the extent of my ability as a fortune teller. See, I’m one of those “either/or” types. When I think about life, it tends to be in either/or terms. Black or white. Good or Bad. Thumbs up or Thumbs down.

Anybody else do this?

Well, I know you’re out there. Here’s a great example:

Nowadays, if you watch a video on Youtube, you can give it a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down”.

Do you know why?

Up until 2009, Youtube videos used to be rated on a 1-5 scale. But time and again, this is what happened:

A few people would give the video a “1” — as in terrible.

A whole bunch of people would give the video a “5” — as in awesome.

And pretty much NOBODY rated a video a 2, 3, or 4.

Those middle-of-the-road numbers were all but useless. In terms of liking or not liking something, this anecdote would at least suggest that people seem to be pretty dual-minded about it.

Now, does this translate into how people approach their own lives? I don’t really know, but it makes sense to me.

I think there are people for whom gray is a very uncomfortable color. Life seems so uncertain these days. With black or white, you know where you stand and you know what your options are.

1’s and 5’s are easy to discern — it’s those subtler shades in the middle that take real work.

I, for one, believe it’s valuable work, even if I’m not particularly good at it yet.

We must face the possibility that, whatever’s next for you and I may be….just okay. Or maybe there will be good parts and difficult parts. Or maybe it will be really hard at the time, but looking back, we’ll be so glad for all we learned. Or…

Whew. Giving up either/or thinking adds so many dimensions to life. But it may allow us to live more fully and more deeply.

Life is more than a best or worst case scenario. In fact, life is so much more than a “scenario” — It’s a rich and unfolding journey, and the more we accept the nuances, the more we can enjoy the ride.

But if it’s hard for you to let go of the lingo, hold tight to this:

Faith makes any next thing in your life…

A Blessed Case Scenario.

Have a Great Week,

Mitch

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