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“And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, ‘Today — at the latest, tomorrow — we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.’ You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, ‘If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.’”
— James 4: 13-15
That tragic building collapse near Miami shook everyone to the core. A whole building just gone, without warning in the middle of the night.
I’m an engineer, and things like that just don’t happen, but they did.
In a June 28 Wall Street Journal article headlined, “Remnants of Lives at a Disaster Site,” columnist Bob Greene touchingly writes, “It may be a paperback novel, left on a bedside table ... with a credit-card receipt placed as a bookmark where the person who was reading stopped
“... a grocery list, handwritten and pinned to a corkboard in the kitchen, a reminder of what to bring home from the supermarket in the morning
“... a magazine with the mailing label still intact ... a wristwatch with an inscription engraved on the back, or a phone bill unopened in its envelope
“... These were the last precious clues to lives taken away in the most terrible of ways. Before long, some of the loved ones of the lost families of Collins Avenue will sit in a quiet room with compassionate police detectives and be asked to look at such items.”
I remember my first earthquake. In Seattle. I was working at Kenworth Trucks on the drafting boards in my own little world. Suddenly, I’m watching everything around me moving haphazardly and rather angrily, ceiling tiles falling, the highway in front of our building rippling like ocean waves.
Up to that moment, I regarded the ground under my feet as trustworthy. No more.
What do you regard as trustworthy? Your good health, your youth, the car you drive, the airplane you are flying in, your job, your bank, your secure country ... the “cradle of democracy?”
Sorry, they all have a “use by” date, and all will perish with time. Sooner or later, you will realize that you’ve been leaning on a broken crutch.
So, if you can’t count on the ground under your feet, or the structural steel building that you are in, what should you do with this latest dose of reality?
In one of scripture’s most triumphant passages, 1 Peter 1:3-5, the Apostle Peter bursts forth, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
The promises of this world are only as good as the guarantor behind them — otherwise, they’re not worth the paper they are written on. (Can you say Bernie Madoff?)
The writer of Hebrews holds forth a much better “deal:” “The old priesthood of Aaron (under the Hebrew religion) perpetuated itself automatically, father to son, without explicit confirmation by God.
But then God intervened and called this new, permanent priesthood into being with an added promise:
God gave his word; he won’t take it back: “You’re the permanent priest.”
“This makes Jesus the guarantee of a far better way between us and God — one that really works! A new covenant. Earlier there were a lot of priests, for they died and had to be replaced. But Jesus’ priesthood is permanent. He’s there from now to eternity to save everyone who comes to God through him, always on the job to speak up for them.”
— Hebrews 7: 21-25
Not just another “option,” He’s the ONLY option.
In 1 John 2: 28-29, the Apostle John underscored the importance of living your life centered on Christ:
“Live Deeply in Christ. And now, children, stay with Christ. Live deeply in Christ. Then we’ll be ready for him when he appears, ready to receive him with open arms, with no cause for red-faced guilt or lame excuses when he arrives. Once you’re convinced that he is right and righteous, you’ll recognize that all who practice righteousness are God’s true children.”
Lots to look forward to IF ...
How About You?
Remember, the end of the world may be a long way off — but the end of YOUR world could be just around the corner.
— D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information, or contact him at [email protected]. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.
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