The Taser's Edge


“What if this present were the world’s last night?”
October 14, 2006, 6:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
(Title courtesy of Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas, p. 71)

Lately, I have been somewhat worried about the world. Pick a reason:

 
-Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is making friends of other nations by making an enemy of the United States.
 
-Israel and Hezbollah have a very tense peace. Other nations such as Syria could easily become more involved.
 
-Fighting in Afghanistan has become more heated than ever.

-Iran is unfettered in its pursuit of nuclear technology.


And, finally, in neighboring (although perhaps not next-door) segments on NPR this morning, I heard that
 
1.) The US is going to keep troop levels at 144,000 for the foreseeable future.
2.) Kim Jong-il of North Korea is claiming that any sanctions imposed by the UN in reaction to his nation’s recent nuclear testing will be interpreted as an act of war.  And then

   ?

 
 
Map of my thoughts:
 
Layer 1: 144,000 is a number that I don’t want to hear associated with the Middle East, and the end of the world has popularly come at the hand of nukes since 1945.
Layer 2:I don’t want people to realize that I actually believe that stuff in Revelation, that random numbers are significant.  I don’t want to be seen as the company of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson (This is not comic relief; it is a real fear.)
Layer 3: Except I do believe it. Maybe I should address it.
 
And so I am. I do believe that at one point in the future, 144,000 people in the vicinity of Baghdad will have humongous importance, although I don’t know exactly how.
 
But I’m scared of it, and that’s a problem, because “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4.18). Which leads me to why I am writing this.
 
The world is messed up, and I don’t know if it has ever been more hectic than it is right now, although I’m told these things are circular. Regardless, nuclear war could begin tonight from another nuclear nation if not North Korea, and where would we be? How would we live our lives differently “if this present were the world's last night?”
 
My schedule:
1. Final sleep-in (although I might go to work if I had a job).
2. Final pancakes.
3. Skip the final shower.
4. Read more of the Confessions (although not too hurriedly, because I’ll soon meet the guy).
5. Be a little more mindful of prayer.
 
Note: This is not a full list; it is censored. And I am not the first to suggest that we live each day as if it were our last. But that is not really what I am suggesting. Here’s the real point:
 
Christians should be praying for peace in the world. And I strongly believe that if more Christians committed to praying for peace, then more peace would happen. I wish I could say this more strongly, because this is the main (and only) point of the post:

 All Christians everywhere should be praying for peace in North Korea, peace in the Middle East, and peace on earth. (Now why did I have to confuse that whole message with all the rest of this?)

 
Two closing thoughts:
 
1. In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham pleads earnestly for a people he knows do not care about God in the least, even when he is afraid that his requests will anger God. But in the story of the Binding of Isaac, Abraham doesn’t question God when He asks for his son Isaac.  Why the difference?  Jewish tradition, I am recently informed, has always considered Abraham's passivity in interceding for his own son as a grave sin.  The understanding (whether we agree or disagree) is that God wants a back-and-forth relationship with humanity; entirely blind faith, without questioning whether the voice you hear, in whatever manner you hear it, is God's (especially when he asks you to destroy what He has promised you), is both foolish and sinful.  Furthermore humans have a duty to other humans; we are our brother(s' and sisters') keepers.
On to
2.  In The Confessions, Saint Augustine details his Christian mother’s longsuffering prayers for her unbelieving son. In Book III, Monica, the mother, goes to the local bishop, a well-educated priest who, she believes, should surely be able to debate the young man until he understands the truth of the Gospel. But the bishop refuses on his conviction that Augustine isn’t yet ready to convert, isn't yet teachable. The bishop does, however, give Monica some words of hope: “[I]t is inconceivable that he should perish, a son of tears like yours.”
 

That is to say, “I cannot believe that our loving God would ever allow Himself overlook your tears and your prayers on behalf of your lost and prodigal son.”


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