We were zipping along Interstate 80 one afternoon, heading home through Pennsylvania on this beautiful day. I was really enjoying the view as I drove, until that semi pulled out onto the highway in front of us. The truck was belching this heavy black smoke out of its smokestack. Immediately the car in front of us swung into the left lane to pass him. As he was passing, he suddenly turned on his windshield wipers, and we noticed that they immediately began smearing this oily film across his windshield.
Mount Luggage - that's what I remember about the day that our whole family was trapped at O'Hare Airport. We had taken our daughter to Chicago to get her to college. There was record rainfall that day. It was like nine and a half inches in a few hours, and O'Hare Airport literally had become an island. It was cut off from the rest of the world. It was like Camp O'Hare! And the overpass that people had to go through to get in was flooded with four feet of water. Well, needless to say, all the people were stranded there; everyone was running trying to get to a phone. This was pre cell phones. Every phone was taken; everybody was trying to find options, "How do I get out of here?" "How can I arrange for a ride if it ever does open up?" "Where can we stay tonight?"
We think we know what mountains are out East, all 1,500 to 3,000 feet of them! Of course, those Western folks, oh, they have a superiority complex about their mountains - just because they're like 8,000-12,000 feet high! Now, I do love the majesty of those Western peaks, like the Tetons. I've been there a couple of times and they're impressive to look at, but they're apparently pretty tempting to climb too. Some local guides told me that folks from out East take an intensive two weeks summer mountaineering course, and of course, they are now expert mountain climbers! Well, they're not. The most demanding peak in the Tetons is the Grand Teton, and of course that's the one all these cocky rookies want to climb. One local guide told me very matter-of-factly, "We have to go up several times each summer to pick up the remains of some of those climbers." You see, the mountain beats the climber when the climber is over confident. One veteran local climber told me he's never even tried to climb the Grand! He said "I've got too much respect for it."
My first time in Hawaii, I was there for just one day in between legs of my trip. And since I only had a short time, there was one place I definitely wanted to make it a point to see - Pearl Harbor. I've got to tell you, that's one emotional place to visit, especially the Battleship Arizona Memorial where hundreds of American sailors are still entombed at the bottom of the harbor. One of the many intriguing facts about that Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was a transaction that took place well before that "day of infamy" - one that no one could have ever imagined would contribute to the awful losses of December 7, 1941. The United States made a deal to ship millions of tons of scrap metal to Japan - metal which was reportedly used to build some of the very airplanes that bombed Pearl Harbor!
While I was with one of my grandchildren, I saw a frog. She loved it! Then I picked up that little bug-eyed green fellow and held him close so she could get a better look at him. It was one of Kermit's cousins, you know. I didn't have any second thoughts about picking up a frog. No, they're harmless! Well, most of the time - unless it's what they call a poisonous dart frog. I don't think we have those, but they're about one and one-half inches long, and they live in tropical rainforests in Central and South America. And they are the good-lookers of the frog kingdom. They're not some boring ole' green. The dart frog is really very brightly colored. He looks very interesting, but he can be carrying enough poison to kill 20,000 mice. Or more important to you and me - ten people!
I really think my wife could have been a missionary about anywhere in the world. So resourceful! And that's what missionaries need to be. I mean, we were together missionaries in the United States over many years of ministry to teenagers and then to Native Americans for many years. And our ministry budget - like most ministry budgets - has always been somewhat limited over the years. That's where my wife's resourcefulness came into play.
Jens Reich was an East German biologist, and a very unlikely revolutionary. He was a leader in that amazing, almost mind-boggling change that happened in Germany decades ago, just as all of the communist empire seemed to be falling apart. His story was told to Newsweek Magazine. He was quoted as saying, "I was always sympathizing with people, and watching, and going to church to talk with others. But I wasn't speaking out."
It was a dark night off the Atlantic Coast, and the captain saw a disaster just ahead - a light that was on a collision course with his ship. There wasn't much time to get the other vessel to change course. So he urgently radioed this message: "Move ten degrees north immediately." The answer came back, "Move ten degrees south." This was no time to be playing navigational games! With some growing aggravation, the captain answered back, "I'm a captain! You adjust your course ten degrees north." The reply came back: "I'm a seaman second class! Adjust ten degrees south." Well, at that point, the captain thundered his final word: "I'm a destroyer - adjust your course now!" And the answer came back: "I'm a lighthouse! Adjust your course!"
Every time a soldier dies in battle it's a tragedy. It doesn't matter how just or unjust we might think the war is or which side he's on. It's still a tragedy. But if there are degrees of tragic, then there's one kind of battlefield death that seems the most heartbreaking of all. You know what it is. It's called 'friendly fire' - when you accidentally shoot or bomb your own fellow soldiers. There's a famous intimance of that in the Civil War, General Stonewall Jackson was killed accidentally by his own men - "friendly fire." In Vietnam, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, probably in every modern war, it's always been an awful tragedy when one of your own is brought down by a weapon you fired.
Wait! Wait! Wait! I thought Humpty Dumpty was just a nursery rhyme. You know, the big egg who sat on a wall, but had a great fall. Turns out he's got a lot of company these days - sitting on a high wall, smashed by a big fall.