It is always exciting to read a suspenseful story. It’s quite something else if you are a part of that story. For most of who are involved in doing mission work, the exciting stories usually have to do with some experience that we have had while living overseas doing our work somewhere in the mission field of the world. But the following story, which just came out in September 2013, has to do with something that happened over 50 years ago. Read Linda’s story:
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A radio news item caught my ear last week and quickly had my full attention. It was not about a current event, but rather something that happened 52 years ago. A recently revealed secret US government document showed that on January 23, 1961 an atomic bomb was accidently released from an American B-52 bomber over Goldsboro, North Carolina. It was 260 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. [i]
The errant bomb was equipped with four safety switches to prevent detonation in an accidental release such as this. The first three switches failed to operate. The fourth, a very vulnerable low-voltage switch was the only thing that kept that bomb from detonating and decimating the US eastern seaboard.
My parents, brother and sister were living in Jacksonville, North Carolina on that day, just 70 miles from Goldsboro. The blessed event of my birth in Jacksonville, North Carolina in December 1961 obviously would never have happened if that fourth switch had malfunctioned like the other three switches. I believe God made sure that last switch worked. I believe He saved us.
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Really Linda? You think that was about you? Well why did God save your family but He didn’t save the people who died at the mall in Nairobi last week? Or those who died from the earthquake in Pakistan this week? Or the people who are being killed in Syria and Afghanistan right this moment? I honestly don’t know. I don’t understand. But I do know for certain it is God’s will for me to be serving Him in Africa in September 2013.
It was His providence which orchestrated many events in history to make this possible. He could not accomplish His will of sending me to East Africa if I had never been born. So yes, I believe that one of the myriad reasons His hand was on the switch that day was because of my calling. I remember the stories of God’s providence throughout the Bible, and I believe He is the same today as He was in those days – willing and able to do what it takes to accomplish His perfect plans.
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That is just how my mind works and how I live my life – I believe. I trust God; I rely on Him and know that even though I will someday die, no one or nothing can take my life unless and when He decides for it to happen. You see, my life belongs to Him and no one else; not to even me, because I gave it to Him. So what is my part in all of this? To cling to God’s grace, love, provision and mercy; to listen to His Spirit and to say yes to whatever He asks of me.
You have a part in it too. I long to hear you (yes you) say to me, “… we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:11b-12 (NASB)
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I would have to agree that one of the great mysteries of our world is that we can never know why some good things happen to certain people, and bad things happen to other people. We would want to conclude from our own human reasoning that good things should happen to good people, and bad things should happen to bad people.
But the Scriptures do not support this idea. In Matthew 5:45, it says, “For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” [ii] In other words, God will allow both good and evil things to be distributed to all people, though not necessarily in proportionate amounts. Our family has felt that it has carried more than our fair share of crises: a pregnancy death, considering the option of bankruptcy, our son getting leukemia, and now I deal daily with the family genetically inherited mitochondrial disease.
The question we must all ask ourselves is this, “In light of what has just happened, how should we respond?” Jill and I learned an important life skill statement to help us through. It says, “Given this…then what?” All of us will experience many experiences in life. When we find we are in the middle of a very difficult life situation, we could get angry, but that almost always back fires on us.
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We could choose to simply accept the situation as being out of our control, but I would contend that this is self-defeating as I believe that there is always some action we can take, under the leading and the power of the Holy Spirit’s guidance of course.
And so that leaves me with the saying, “Given this… then what?” We will all need to realize that there is the possibility of happening at any time. Our response to this is not to get angry, but simple decide what the most appropriate action would be, and then to do it. And Linda, I’m so glad that that bomb did not go off, for then I would never have had the privilege to be able to call you my friend. Blessings upon you.
[ii] Tyndale House Publishers. (2007). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (3rd ed.). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers