World-famous Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was sent to a Siberian prison because he criticized communism. Languishing there under intolerable conditions year after year, he decided to end his life. But suicide, he firmly believed, would be against God's will. He thought it would be better for a guard to shoot him.
In Western culture, the Christmas season is a time for a revelry of gift-giving. A world-famous department store annually issues a catalog of gifts of value beyond extravagance. One of them was a $10 million zeppelin-a 230-foot-long, 50-foot-wide airship capable of flying for 24 hours without refueling.
In the 1700s, John Newton went to sea with his father on a merchant ship. Soon after his father retired, Newton was pressed into service on a warship. Facing intolerable conditions, he deserted and later requested a transfer to a slave ship that was soon to set sail for Africa.
A young Christian dad took his parenting role seriously. When his son was an infant, he protected him. As the boy grew, his dad played ball with him, encouraged him, and tried to teach him about God and life. But in his teen years, the boy went too far and too fast in his move toward independence.
It turns out that we humans reason largely by means of our hearts and not by our heads. As French mathematician and theologian Blaise Pascal noted long ago, "The heart has reasons that reason does not know."
Several hundred miles off the coast of Guam is the Mariana Trench, the deepest place in the ocean. On January 23, 1960, Jacques Piccard and Donald Walsh climbed into a submersible vessel and were lowered into the cold, lonely darkness. Their descent into the deep, which set the world record, has never been repeated.
If there is anything that we love to hate more than the arrogance of others, it would have to be an awareness of our own weakness. We detest it so much that we invent ways to cover our personal inadequacy.
I once read some theology on the bumper of a car in front of me. It said, "If you go to hell, don't blame Jesus!" The slogan apparently was an attempt by the driver to do some evangelism. I gave him credit for trying, but I wondered if those who saw that warning felt it was put there in love.