It Is Inevitable

by Tom Wacaster

Since the death of Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, former heads of terrorist operations in Iraq and elsewhere, there have been a series of suicide bombings in other parts of the world.  The most recent concern among those “in the know” is that Al Quieda may have been weakened in Iraq, but seems to be gaining power in Africa.  Recent bombings in Libya would appear to support that conclusion.  Such bombings around the world have killed dozens and left hundreds, if not thousands, wounded and suffering.  We read of the insane acts of those who would strap explosives to their body, or hide them in their shoes, and walk into a crowded restaurant or climb onto a bus, and blow themselves up along with as many as might be within their immediate proximity. The repeated, almost daily barrage of suicide bombers in Israel, Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya, seem so far away.  It is as if we are isolated from such insane acts.  But the consensus among politicians and public leaders is that it is inevitable that we, too, will experience such violence in our country.  Former FBI director Robert Mueller has gone on record (5-21-02) as stating that suicide bombers are inevitable.  Here are his words: "It is inevitable that suicide bombers like those who have attacked Israeli restaurants and buses will strike the United States [and] we will not be able to stop it."  Such language, to say the least, is a little unsettling.  With the exception of the Civil War, American citizens, since the founding of this nation, have been exempt from war on our home soil.  Unlike Europe, Africa, Japan, China, and other nations, we have not experienced an invasion of the enemy, occupation by another nation, or the threat of physical harm as a result of warfare on our homeland.  Those sentiments are no longer true.  Dan Rather, shortly after the attack on the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001 observed that the words in the fourth stanza of "America, The Beautiful" read thus:

O Beautiful for patriot dream,
That sees beyond the years.
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.
America, America! God shed His grace on thee.
And crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.

The words “undimmed by human tears” were the focus of Rather’s comments.  In tears he pointed out that now our cities have been dimmed by human tears. We have experienced first hand the invasion of an enemy.  And we are afraid! That fear is heightened by the uncertainty of time and place.  As former FBI Director Robert Mueller noted, "I believe it is going to come...Now, is it going to happen today, to morrow or two years?  We're not certain."  Meanwhile we have our own form of terrorism here in the United States.   Unbalanced and unhinged (and I might add, unlawful) individuals seem to think that taking innocent lives in order to make some kind of “statement,” or gain some twisted form of notoriety, take it upon themselves to enter a movie house, or post office, or former place of work, and gun down innocent bystanders.   Will it happen again?  Probably!  Will we get any warning? Probably not!   This was precisely Muller’s point.  Of course Mueller can only "guess" at what lies down the road.  We need not become unsettled because of one man's opinion, nor should we live in fear that some mad man is going to walk into the local Walmart and "pull the string."  Now to the point of this article.  Why is it that folks can become so unsettled over something that may or may not ever happen, yet totally ignore the warnings of something that really is inevitable?  Let me explain.

There is an event, the precise date unknown to men, to the angels in heaven, and even the Son of God Himself, that awaits the whole of mankind.  Of course you know of what I speak.  "Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28-29).   "For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10).  "It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh the judgment" (Heb. 9:27).  "But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only" (Matt. 24:36). 

Why is it that our reaction to the announcement of an 'inevitable' threat to our physical well being has such a profound effect on our emotions, while we give so little thought to another 'inevitable' promise that faces all mankind, past present and future generations?   Comparing the two events, consider the following:

First, there is the possibility factor.  Even with all the input from some of the top government agencies at his disposal, Mr. Mueller can only make an educated guess.  It may turn out that he is right, and that indeed suicide bombers ARE inevitable. But neither he, nor his constituents have the ability to look into the future. On the other hand, our God is omniscient. He has proven His power in this area by predictive prophecy that has come true 100% of the time.  As to the possibility of the judgment, you can rest assured, that day will occur.

Second, there is the time factor.   The FBI director admits, "We're not certain."  All available information is brought to bear, and still, "We're not certain."  Who knows the mind of a terrorist, what time frame that might constrain him, or events and circumstances that may bring about the opportunity for his intended actions.  Who among men can predict that some madman will walk into his workplace and shoot innocent victims?  As for the judgment, "no man knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son."  Why is it, then, that men think they see the "signs" of the Lord's return in judgment?  The precise moment of the judgment cannot be determined, and men manifest their arrogance and foolishness when they attempt to pre guess or circumvent God. 

Third, there is the purpose factor. Why does the FBI, CIA and other intelligent agencies think it important to provide advance notice of an "inevitable" attack by terrorists?  The answer is obvious.  So that we can be alert, prepared and ready for such an event and thereby minimize the loss of life.   God has warned us of the judgment. He has even told us that He is not willing that ANY should perish (2 Peter 3:9).  Additionally, He has provided a "way of escape" (1 Cor. 10:13).  He has promised to see us through if we will but trust and obey.   How grateful we are that God has warned us of that 'inevitable' event.

I am puzzled, however, that so few give serious consideration to the Divine warnings concerning that coming day of Judgment.   The only conclusion I can come to is that they must not really believe that the Judgment day is 'inevitable.' 

Coming Home

by Tom Wacaster

Returning from  a mission trip brings its challenges, not the least of which is the physical adjustment to a time zone that is almost eleven hours behind the place you just left.  Sometimes I really struggle with adjusting my biological clock to the clock on the wall, and the reality that, while your body tells you it should be six o’clock in the morning, the sky outside tells you it is nigh unto dusk.   When I woke up in Bangaluru Thursday morning it was 6:00 A.M. there, but it was 7:30 P.M. Wednesday night here at home.  It would be  almost 40 hours before I would be able to lay my body down for a decent rest.   Going that far, that fast, does not seem to be a part of what God intended for our physical bodies.  Of course, the “slow boat to China” may be easier on the body, but it really chews up a lot of time.    So, until my body adjusts to the Central Time Zone, I’ll take advantage of those wee hours of the morning when I can’t sleep to get some reading, study and meditation under my belt.   I figure that just about the time I am used to getting up at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning instead of 2:00 or 3:00  that it will be time for Daylight Savings to kick in, and I’ll have to roll back the clock and find myself getting up yet one more hour earlier.
But there are other challenges that I face when I come  home.  For one thing there is the readjustment to a daily schedule that is disrupted when I make a mission trip to Russia or India.   At home there are those constant reminders that there is a sense of “permanence” here that is not present when travelling over seas.   Medical appointments, mowing the lawn, paying bills, and weekly shopping, to name but a few.   When I leave all this behind and immerse myself in preaching and teaching, I tend to forget those things that await me when I come home.   For several days after my arrival home I am busy catching up with bills, correspondence, writing, and reading.; and the longer I have been gone, the more there is to catch up with.  Sometimes it is simply overwhelming.  

Another challenge is readjusting my emotional barometer (if I may call it that).   The opportunities for preaching and teaching the gospel in some places are abundant;  and in some  cases simply astonishing.   Take for example my  recent work in India.   Brother J.C. Bailey first went to India to present the pure message of Christ to a people steeped in idolatry.  The response was so astonishing that brethren back home simply did not believe there were so many being baptized.   The response was in the 100’s, and in some cases in the 1,000’s.   Churches of Christ were being established throughout India, especially in the south eastern part of that country.   After  fifty years the rate of growth does not seem to have abated.   The receptivity of the gospel continues to this day.  Large audiences, open hearts, and precious souls responding  give a visiting missionary a spiritual “high” that lifts his spirit and gives him a deeper appreciation for the work of those who have “beautiful feet” [see Romans 10:15).   When I come home there is a return to the reality that the soil for planting the seed of God’s word that exists in India on a wide scale is not present in much of the Western world.   Wealth, prosperity, humanism, atheism, self indulgence—pick what you want; these are the things that have hardened the hearts of so many in our country so much so that trying to  find the good and honest heart is like the proverbial search for a needle in a haystack.   I realize that work in this “mission field” we call the United States is difficult, disheartening and often discouraging.; but we rest on the promise that we shall reap if we faint not.  

Finally, there is a challenge of readjustment to a society that is literally saturated with sin and ungodliness.  From the head to the foot (to borrow the words of Isaiah) the moral climate in America is in the cesspool.    I am not suggesting that India is a sinless society, but it seems that here in America sin is flaunted openly and without any shame on the part of the people and the politicians.   America wears her pride on her sleeve.  Humility is an endangered species.  Right or wrong, my perception is that in India there is a sense of moral responsibility and humility of heart that makes the preaching of the gospel such a success. 

I can adjust my biological clock fairly quick;  I can adjust to my daily routine here at home.  But I find it much more difficult to face a world that seems bent on slapping God in the face.  Therein is the great challenge of coming home.