Once again in recent weeks, humanity came face-to-face with its own mortality. It was a sobering global awakening as pictures of the tsunami devastation came swirling into our homes and engulfed our sense of security. We watched in stunned disbelief and horror as the ocean water rose and angrily swelled through the city streets and coastal villages of Asia and Africa. The sea came, it saw and it conquered. What was became no more!
In seeing all of this sudden destruction, my mind drifted back to the prophetic warning spoken by Jesus Christ: “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know till the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:37-39 Matthew 24:37-39 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
American King James Version×).
These verses dramatically pinpoint the reality that each of us can become mesmerized and slip into a realm of static unawareness of this life’s temporary nature as we pass through the normal cycles of the human experience. We can become lulled into a sublime unreality that nothing will ever shake up our well-insulated world. It’s the same notion that everyone else’s sand castle will topple, but somehow our well-built edifice will never quite crumble in the same way.
Not in control of our lives
But being well insulated from possible calamity is a falsity that needs to be shattered. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton summed up our feelings with words we all know and feel, but don’t want to think about. He concluded, “The big lesson here is that we simply are not in control of our lives!” And this bit of neglected wisdom came from a man who has experienced every perk, privilege and protection afforded to the world’s most powerful office.
No, we simply will never truly know what is around the bend. There are elements of this natural world that are simply out of our control. But does that mean we can’t be in control of many aspects of our lives today?
Why such a question? Because, I simply ask myself, “What will it take for people to wake up and shake up their aimless existence and take control of their inner beings with the purpose-filled design that God intends for each of us?”
Why this frustration on my part? Just think back a little over three years to that day of infamy—9/11. You know, the day that the towers fell in a heap of dust, along with 3,000 victims, on the narrow streets of lower Manhattan.
Seemingly, for a brief glimmer of time, people changed. They reached out to one another. We each looked at our families and neighbors just a little bit differently, as if we were all God’s children needing a hug. We made resolutions that we were going to get rid of old and worn-out ways of mishandling others and ourselves. But how long did such a noble goal last for the world, for the nation, for you? Did the shelf life of our good intentions last any longer than the mayonnaise in our refrigerator?
Let’s peek under the covers
Let’s take a peek under the covers and see what’s going on. It’s reality-check time! Are we more committed to our mate than ever? Do we spend more or less time with our children? Do we call our aging parents a little bit more and listen a tad bit longer? Do we put in an honest day’s labor for an honest day’s pay with perhaps a little more bounce in our step? Have we stopped criticizing everybody else and taken a good, hard look in the mirror at our own shortcomings?
Have we divorced ourselves from the intake of filth, garbage and immoral waste that passes itself off as “entertainment” by the self-proclaimed “creative community” of Hollywood? Such entertainment never would have made it through the front gate of your grandmother’s yard, much less dominate her front room.
Have we even taken time to stop and consider what life is all about? That’s hard to do in a world of cell phones, pagers and the intrigue of Internet communication, which interrupt our ability to truly focus and fence in the private property of our time to ponder the course of our lives.
So what will it take for us to not only be jolted into reality, but also to keep us there? After three years, we just had another global wake-up call to the reality that time is short! A quarter million people were wiped out in one day. It could happen to us! Will we have another one, two, three or four years till we are given another troubling jolt of reality? Or will this tragic event affect us in the way God would want? How will we respond? And what do I mean by respond?
How have you responded?
A lot of people around the world have responded wonderfully to the immediate needs of the tsunami victims. Millions of people have donated financially what they could to stave off hunger, thirst and pestilence. Individuals, families, congregations, schools, big business and Hollywood have all lent a helping hand and heart. Some of that funding is going to make a big difference—the difference between life and death.
It’s a quandary of human nature why at times it is easier to reach out to people we don’t know or will never meet than to be emotionally available to the people right around the corner. Yes, the nameless thousands need our help and still do. But those we do know, who share our homes, live in our neighborhoods, sit across the aisle in school or sit down the row from us in church, also need our special touch and outreach.
At the same time, others have been wary of giving. Some have described the 9/11 attack and the recent tsunami event as God’s punishment on materialistic sinners, infidels and lowlifes who pander to prostitution and child slavery. Perhaps you have run into some in religious circles who say, “They had it coming!” The same kind of religious crowd, who proclaim, “Amen, Lord! Who’s next?”
When I think of such people, my mind drifts back and focuses on the video I saw of a lone boy playing in the sand on a sunny day, not aware of the churning behemoth of water about to sweep him up, under and away. But for some it’s easy to overlook that casualty, because they have an inner drive to condemn others, while they themselves squeak out lives of quiet desperation and unfulfilled commitments to God and man.
How Jesus approaches disasters
Long ago, Jesus spoke to both kinds of people, and to all peoples of all times, after a couple of grievous events had struck the Jewish community. Perhaps the questioning of the Rabbi was meant to “size Him up,” but as usual, He turned it around and asked the audience to measure themselves.
Luke 13:1 Luke 13:1There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
American King James Version×begins, “There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.” Pilate had apparently put to death some Galileans as they were offering worship sacrifices in Jerusalem. We don’t know the complete story. The Galileans were known as hotheads and firebrands, and perhaps they had tried to stir things up and simply got their “just desserts.”
The theology of the day attributed individual suffering to individual guilt. Surely the Galileans had sinned! But Jesus answered with a challenging question, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” He refocused the audience’s attention off the victims and turned it right on themselves—what are you doing with your life before God? Now is the time for complete and incontrovertible change—repent!
But He didn’t say it just once. Again He brought up another recent calamity in verse 4. Jesus asked, What about “those eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?”
These were people who for one reason or another had been possibly building for the Romans or their puppets, the Herodian regime. Traitors or turncoats perhaps? Had they, too, received their “just desserts” for collaborating with the conqueror? Once again, Christ separates the disaster from sin, “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Again, He shifts the focus off “the other guy” and squarely places it on the survivors, those who are living and how they will now live out their lives.
Our calling is not about worry
So how are we, the living, doing? When it is all said and done, most of us fall into three categories. Some of us willingly give our money but are unwilling to repent, that is to change, and give God the most important gift of all, ourselves. Some of us are more than willing to harshly judge a spiritually blinded world as simply ripe for divine judgment, but don’t recognize our own blindness to the light of God’s merciful ways.
And some of us, well, we’re worried about the next shoe to drop, be it a terrorist attack, natural disaster or an unexpected mishap in our family. We’re just born worrywarts. We live a life of worry rather than a life of hope. As people of faith, we forget that worry has no part in God’s provisions. Worry is simply not a responsibility that God has assigned to those who have chosen to follow Him. Because God has reached down and called us and infused us with a glorious and life-changing reality, our obligation to God and others is to always bring more to life than life brings to us.
World News and Prophecy will continue to report the news of the day, the calamities of tomorrow and offer the prophetic framework to understand the times in which we live. We will show the need for the return of a just and loving Christ.
Until that return, history and the Bible teach us that buildings will continue to fall, waves will continue to crash, wars will be fought and innocent children will die. I wish it were otherwise, but it is not. Such events, played out here below, are not allowed for some cruel, dead-end purpose by a loving God. They are designed to allow for a man to “come to himself” so he can come to God and stay there.
The apostle Paul was aware of the times in which he lived. He recognized, that for the living, time was short and precious. He patiently urged: “And do this, knowing the time, that now is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:11-12 Romans 13:11-12 11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
American King James Version×).
Time to get a little quiet
Yes, it’s time! Time to make a change. Time to stop being overwhelmed by the roar of self, the screaming headlines, the whirl and twirl of technology and the ever-present whisper of worry. It’s time to get a little quiet, so we can hear the voice of God.
We’ll need that quiet mind that enables us to hear God’s voice for the days that lie ahead. Days filled with startling news. Days filled with prophecy coming our way. And, yes, days with God firmly by our side and firmly planted in our heart.
Isaiah 30:21 Isaiah 30:21And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.
American King James Version×says, “This is the way, walk in it.” Perhaps the famous Scottish writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, best captured the essence of this scripture when he wrote this prayer. It’s a prayer about a changed life. It helps produce a life that makes room for God, and thus a “quiet mind,” even in troubling times.
Let’s consider Stevenson’s prayer: “Lord, behold our family here assembled. We thank Thee for this place in which we dwell; for the love that unites us; for the peace accorded us this day; for the hope with which we expect the morrow, for the health, the work, the food, and the bright skies that make our lives delightful; for our friends in all parts of the earth…
“Give us courage, gaiety, and the quiet mind. Spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies. Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavors. If it may not, give us the strength to encounter that which is to come, that we be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath, and in all changes of fortune and down to the gates of death, loyal and loving one to another.”
Now let’s meet the future. WNP