Our oldest son worked as a missionary among young people in a Native American tribe in the Southwest. In his first few days there he ended up helping a Native American man weed his corn field. The tribe lives in a place where it's really tough to grow anything. I mean, corn is the most important crop, but it doesn't come easily because they're in a place where I think they only get about 10-12 inches of rain a year.
When Ebola first popped up in the United States I was watching that news story about the Dallas nurse who was the first person to ever contract Ebola in America. I was hit by a lesson that I found pretty personal to me.
If you're walking along the street and you see some couples' initials written in the sidewalk cement (isn't that romantic!), you know it wasn't put there today. It's doubtful they spent hours chiseling it into the cement. You know those impressions had to be made when that sidewalk had just been laid. I mean, right before it turned hard. You know that famous theater in Hollywood where they have the footprints of many stars in the sidewalk. They didn't use a jackhammer or chisel. No, they did it in fresh cement; soft enough to write in. If they waited, well it would be pretty tough to leave their mark.
Most Americans weren't around on that D-Day of course. And even though we weren't, we should be very glad they succeeded when they hit those Normandy beaches. They stopped one of the most powerful threats to freedom in history. Of course it was Nazi Germany.
There's just something about the Titanic, that ship that sank, but it seems like our fascination with it is unsinkable. But in the many moving stories of that horrible haunting night, there's one that just blows me away. One passenger - John Harper: A man whose life and choices during those three fateful hours still give me goosebumps.
They're some of the best of the best in America's military. They're known as the Navy Seals. And when there's a mission that's almost impossible, they send the Seals behind enemy lines, or maybe it's a highly sensitive covert mission, against enormous odds. They're trained in just about any military skill you can think of. In fact, their training was the subject of a cover story in a national magazine a while back; especially that brutal final week that decides who will and will not be a Navy Seal.
It was the moment this young man had waited for and had prepared for over many months. It was his premiere appearance as a concert pianist. The audience had heard a lot about his amazing talent, so they packed out this prestigious concert hall to hear him. They weren't disappointed. In fact, his masterful playing brought them to their feet for a thunderous standing ovation at the end of the concert. Backstage, the young man's manager said, "They want an encore, man! Get out there!" The pianist looked strangely dejected, and he said, "No, I'm not going to go back out there." And the manager said, "But they love you, man! Look at them! They're all on their feet!" "Not all. Look in the balcony." The manager peeked around the curtain and he saw one white-haired old man in the balcony who wasn't standing or applauding. "Hey, come on! One old guy? So what?" The pianist looked down at the floor and he said, "That's not one old man. That's my teacher."
You know, some of God's most impressive artwork is under the water or under the ground. I was reminded of God's extravagant beauty when our family toured some caverns. You know, there were a few touches from man there; walkways, lights. But all that did was help us see this rare beauty of soaring stalagmites and underground canyons and rock formations of every conceivable texture and shape.
There was a group of girls at a slumber party, a plumber installing a hot water heater, the nurse who was enjoying her new home - her first home. They were all in the path of a sea of mud that without warning, suddenly engulfed a full square mile of Oso, Washington - 176 people originally "unaccounted for." Well, it went down to seven at one point, and then 39 fatalities last I had read. One of the victims was even a soldier taken leave from the Army. He went to help search for his aunt and uncle, but he couldn't find them, and his depression led him to an apparent suicide.
It was the early winter of 1994. It was when the Sanitation Department of New York City would not forget for a while. Much of the East Coast got hit big time with this parade of snow storms and ice storms. And at one point, they were coming about every other day. You take a hard freeze and frequent storms. It just created layers of frozen precipitation on the ground. Kind of like geological strata except slippery. Olympic skaters could have practiced on Broadway or Fifth Avenue.