Running certainly has its hazards, but never has aircraft been one of them. But, that is exactly what caused the death of Robert Gary Jones who was running on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The 38-year-old husband who was the father of two apparently never heard the single-engine plane, which had lost its propeller, as it made an emergency landing on the beach. The pilot had engine troubles and was trying to get to the Hilton Head airport. The coroner’s office said that this type of plane, an Experimental Lancair IV-P, is so quiet that Jones might not have heard it even without his earphones on (news information via WTOC.com).
Whenever such a random, tragic act occurs, we are baffled. It certainly points out that life could not be more uncertain and we cannot possibly anticipate the future (cf. Jas. 4:13). We might be tempted to wonder what this man did wrong to die such an unlikely death. Jones may have been an evil man, but he could just as easily have been an upstanding citizen and model husband and father.
Jesus warns against such thinking that would see this as an act of divine judgment or punishment. Luke 13:1-5 says, “Now on the same occasion, there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them,’ Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.’”
His message is universal in scope. Everybody has the same individual responsibility. We must live holy lives, repenting of the sin in our lives. We may suffer some terrible earthly tragedy that is in no way brought on by our own sinfulness. In a fallen world, these kinds of things occasionally happen. Our task is to live ready for eternity in every moment!
Back in the 80s, I worked for a kind-hearted man who owned a small sign shop. He was far from the most successful businessman I'd ever met, but he treated his customers with respect and fairness. I remember how downhearted he was when he told me his pickup had been stolen. A couple of months later, the truck was returned but in a very unusual way. The story, which made national news, was featured by Paul Harvey.
Here's how it appeared in the local paper:
DEWITT, Mich. (UPI) -- Kelly Terrell says the person who stole his 1975 Chevrolet pickup truck can take it again "any time he wants to." That's because Terrell, whose truck was taken from a shopping mall in December, got the vehicle back Sunday --with a fresh coat of paint and a number of other repairs. Terrell told police Monday he had received a call from a stranger who lectured him about his truck's poor condition. The stranger then told Terrelll he could find the pickup in the parking lot where it had been stolen.
When Terrel arrived at the lot, he found his truck and a three-page list of repairs made by the thief. In addition to sanding and painting the pickup, the thief performed bodywork and made a number of mechanical repairs. 'It is not a practical joke,' Terrell said. 'I have no idea who the man is. It is all very strange, but that man can steal my vehicle any time he wants to.'
The Bible tells us that God gives but He also takes away (Job 1:21). Our health, our earthly treasures, and even our life will all one day be taken. But there's nothing that God takes away that He will not return to us, only in much better shape than it was before!
"Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live" (John 11:25, ESV).
Susannah Keogh, with the Irish Sun, reports:
Longyearbyen, [Norway], a tranquil town in the middle of nowhere, is so remote that residents are not allowed to die there.
Dying has been banned on the island since 1950, when it was discovered that bodies in the local cemetery were not decomposing because of the chilly temperatures.
The island’s climate is so arctic that in the 2000’s, scientists ... tested corpses buried there who succumbed to the 1917 influenza virus – and to their amazement, retrieved live samples of the virus.
Residents had been living among the deadly virus for decades, without even realizing it.
The graveyard no longer takes any new inhabitants because of fears disease will spread throughout the island, meaning that even those who have lived their whole life on the island, cannot be buried there.
Instead, terminally ill residents have to be shipped to the mainland to prepare for death.
This little Norwegian town had a big problem, but it wasn’t really with death. It was with the fact that death was not allowed to finish its job, to complete the process of mortification.
The same is true with us. Our biggest problem isn’t with death but with everything that falls just short of death. If we are to overcome sin, we must die completely to sin. Anything that falls short of that, allows sin to live on.
Of course, dying to selfish impulses provides momentary relief, but real victory only comes through the grave.
“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54).