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An unexpected promposal from Robin Williams

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Robin Williams and Ben Stiller help their Midnight at the Musuem co-star, and high school senior, Skyler Gisondo ask a girl to prom in this Prom Proposal (Credit: jgoal10 via Youtube)

{source}<iframe style=”float: left; border: 1px solid #000000; background-color: #C0C0C0; padding: 2px; margin: 10px; -moz-border-radius: 3px; -khtml-border-radius: 3px; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px;” width=”400″ height=”225″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/9WCEQy1-msE?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>{/source}Robin Williams‘s suicide made him Google’s #1 search topic in 2014, but he is still generating headlines today.  Here’s why: a teenager who costarred with him and Ben Stiller in Night at the Museum sought their help in asking a girl to the prom.  (This is called a “promposal,” a new word for me.)  The YouTube video they made is hilarious, and has gone viral.  Watching it makes me miss Robin Williams all over again.  But his death proves that celebrity and wealth are no guarantee of life.

Also among Google’s top ten searches for 2014 was Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared on March 8 and still has not been found.  Air travel is the safest form of transportation (statistically, according to The New York Times, a traveler could fly every day for 123,000 years and still be safe), but no flight’s safety is guaranteed.

Nor is any other form of transport, or any other activity on this fallen planet.  Hippos kill 2,900 people a year in Africa.  Falling icicles kill 100 per year in Russia.  Toppling vending machines kill up to 13 people a year.  Four Americans die each year on roller coasters.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, falling out of bed kills 450 people in the U.S. each year.

All that to say, tomorrow is promised to no one.

Somehow we know that.  There’s something in us that recognizes the fragility and unpredictability of life.  When an airliner goes down, we grieve for those who died and those who mourn their deaths, but we are grateful that we escaped their fate.  When celebrities die, we reflect on our memories of them, but secretly we take heart that we have outlived them.

Robin Williams wasn’t even listed in Google’s top ten searches in 2013, but his suicide made him the #1 search topic in 2014.  Malaysia Airlines was on no one’s Google search list before Flight 370 disappeared.  We are drawn to their stories in part because they are not ours.

And yet they are.

The author of the Epistle of James was Jesus’ half brother.  He was described by Hegesippus, a second-century historian: “He was in the habit of entering the temple alone, and was often found upon his bended knees, and interceding for the forgiveness of the people; so that his knees became as hard as a camel’s, in consequence of his habitual supplication and kneeling before God.  And indeed, on account of his exceeding great piety, he was called the Just.”  And yet early tradition records that James was thrown from the temple, stoned, and beaten with a club until he died.  If his family connections and holiness could not guarantee tomorrow, who of us knows what 2015 will bring?

Here is James’ advice: “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that'” (James 4:14-15).

“The Lord’s will” is “good, pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2).  Have you sought it for your day and this new year?