Jeff Bezos and his fellow passengers on the spaceflight that made headlines yesterday were just that—passengers. They had no operational control of their spacecraft. Their rocket was built by Blue Origin, a company Bezos founded twenty years ago but does not lead. It has 3,500 employees, none of whom were on the flight.
While Bezos and his fellow passengers had no control of the technology on which they risked their lives, at least they trusted 2021 technology. By contrast, their flight was timed to coincide with the day in 1969 when Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. A current iPhone has seven million times more memory than the guidance computer on his spaceship and over one hundred thousand times its processing power. Nonetheless, Armstrong and his fellow astronauts risked their lives on their technology and those who built and operated it.
Yesterday was also the birthday of Sir Edmund Hillary, the mountain climber who was the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Hillary, born in 1919, was thirty-three years old when he made the ascent. However, he was quick to credit Tibetan mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, his fellow climber whose partnership was essential to their success.
The heaviest rain in a thousand years
Like the Blue Origin crew, the Apollo 11 astronauts, and the Mt. Everest climbers, we are all passengers on the ship called Earth. Each of us depends on others and on resources we did not create. None of us are truly in control of our world or our lives.
The CDC announced this morning that life expectancy in the US dropped the most in more than seven decades last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. A Chinese province was deluged this week by the heaviest rain in a thousand years, killing at least twelve people and forcing the evacuation of at least one hundred thousand residents.
The Dow Jones plunged 725 points on Monday, its biggest drop of the year, though it rebounded by rising 549 points yesterday. Traders were reportedly concerned about the rising number of COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, and for good reason: the CDC director stated yesterday that this variant now accounts for 83 percent of analyzed coronavirus cases in the US.
In other news, the Bootleg Fire in Oregon has become so intense that its heat is changing the weather in its area. A home not far from where I live in north Dallas exploded Monday because of an isolated gas leak, causing six people to be hospitalized.
Life was no more predictable for people in the biblical era. Abraham was called to follow God’s leadership while “not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). Moses was a fugitive from Egyptian justice when he was called to confront the Egyptian pharaoh. Joshua and those he led were called to step into the Jordan river while it was still flooded. David faced Goliath with no armor or weapons apart from a slingshot and some stones.
Daniel went into the lions’ den armed with no protection but God’s presence. Peter defied the same religious authorities who arranged for Jesus’ execution. Paul followed God’s Macedonian call when he likely had never been to Macedonia.
“Everything I plan will come to pass”
Here was the difference: they put their lives in the hands of a God who claims to know the future, sustain us in the present, and redeem the outcome of our lives.
Not even Jeff Bezos, for all his wealth, can see tomorrow, but God says he can “tell you the future before it even happens” (Isaiah 46:10 NLT). Our Lord promises, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:2). That’s because “God reigns over the nations” (Psalm 47:8) and “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28 NASB).
However, it is natural to wonder how we can know that all of this is true. If we are going to trust our lives and our eternities to the God of the Bible, how can we know that he keeps these promises?
Comparing current Bibles to ancient manuscripts shows that the Bibles we have today are remarkably accurate. Evidence from archaeology and fulfilled prophecy substantiates biblical truth claims. Contemporary stories of lives transformed by God’s presence and power demonstrate his continuing relevance to our world.
At the end of the day, however, we cannot truly know whether to trust anyone until we trust them. You cannot know if you should marry someone until you marry them. You cannot know if you should take a job until you take it. You can and should examine the evidence, but then you must step beyond the evidence into a relationship that becomes self-validating.
It is the same with trusting your past, present, and future to God.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s life motto
Let’s close with this: Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns last night to win the NBA Championship. Giannis was named the Finals MVP; he has been named regular-season MVP twice before as well as Defensive Player of the Year.
The son of impoverished Nigerian immigrants to Greece, his life changed dramatically as a youth under the influence of a Greek Orthodox priest. When he was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2019, he began his acceptance speech by thanking God and stating, “Everything I do, I do through him.” His life motto is biblical: “‘Walk by faith, not by sight.’ I believe this is the right attitude to life for everyone.”
Bob Dylan was right: “You’re gonna have to serve somebody.” And you have to trust somebody, whether that person is yourself, the people who built your rocket ship, or the Lord of the universe.
It makes sense to me to trust someone who is omniscient and omnipotent, who proved his love for me by sending his Son to die in my place so I can live eternally. It makes sense to trust him not only with my eternal soul but with my present challenges, to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). And it makes sense to encourage everyone I influence to do the same.
What about you?
NOTES: For more on our theme, please see my latest website article, “The other Bezos brother: Remembering the source of your personal worth.”
Also, the choice between compromise and courage isn’t new for God’s people, but that doesn’t mean the choice is always easy. That’s why I’ve written my new book, Between Compromise and Courage. It’s my gift to thank you for your donation to give more people the biblical insight they need to discern the news differently, so please request your book today.