Another Warning Ignored

I suppose there’s some similarity between the photos of this past weekend’s downing of the Chinese Spy Balloon and that of the Challenger disaster. But, of course, there are no true similarities, and so any implied comparison is insensitive and shallow.

I suppose there’s a chance this recent incident could be one more precursor to an eventual WW III with our Asian competitor. We all certainly hope not, but every day our leaders seem to be mindlessly leading our world in this direction—if not with China, with Russia, or North Korea, or all three.

But I couldn’t help but notice the parallels with the article I posted last week concerning “A Warning Ignored”. Oh, I know there are far wiser and more capable journalists and commentators out there, but for the few of you, my friends, who read my post, were you thinking the same thing? 

Yes, both incidents involve explosions in the upper atmosphere, and the photos are reminiscent of each other, but otherwise there are no connections. Except, that in both cases, there were sufficient warnings ignored.

In the Challenger disaster, a lead engineer warned that it was too cold for the O-Rings to work. His warning was ignored, fuel leaked, there was a devastating mid-air explosion, and seven astronauts were lost, God rest their souls.

In this more recent incident, a fine article by Vivian Salama and Michael R. Gordon in the Wall Street Journal describes how “Prior Chinese Balloon Incursions Over U.S. Went Undetected, Officials Say” (opening photo from that article). They write:

China previously sent high-altitude surveillance balloons over the U.S. that went undetected until after leaving American airspace, Biden administration officials said … [T]here have been prior intrusions over the continental U.S. At least three of those occurred during former President Donald Trump‘s term in office and once previously under President Biden. … Emerging details about the extent of China’s balloon surveillance program are raising questions about why the government wasn’t better prepared to deflect the most recent incursion and how the U.S. handled the previous four instances.

This all may lead to one more political bru-ha-ha of finger pointing. But what seems clear is that our “intelligence agencies” were well aware—from several previous incidents—of China’s balloon surveillance program. And while previous spy balloons may have floated over our heads undetected until later, this present interloper was detected as it was passing from west to east over the Alaskan Aleutian Islands—long before it crossed over our intercontinental ballistic missile bases in Montana. Then that pretty white, seemingly innocent helium balloon, carrying spy surveillance equipment, passed all the way across the United States until it was punctured off the South Carolina coast with a bazillion dollar AIM-9X Sidewinder missile from a bazillion dollar Air Force F-22 jet fighter. I wonder if it took pictures of me filling my bird-feeders as it passed over Ohio? 

I’ll not get into the politics, but just stay within the only field which I have any claim, though debatable, to be “out standing”. In my last article, I used Romans 13 to reflect on the many warnings you and I have received throughout our lives concerning our standing with our just and merciful Creator. From this, there arose four points:

  1. Don’t let the politics of the day distract you from what is eternally important (Rom 13:1-5);
  2. Owe no one anything, except to love one another (Rom. 13:6-10);
  3. Don’t put off until tomorrow … (Rom 13:11-12a);
  4. So what should we do? Paul gave a short list:
    • Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 
    • let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, 
    • not in reveling and drunkenness, 
    • not in debauchery and licentiousness, 
    • not in quarreling and jealousy.
    • But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, 
    • and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:12b-14)

When the Challenger disaster occurred, it was, among many other things, an in-house political fiasco for the United States alone. It wasn’t a harbinger of future political upheaval with any rival nations.

But the photo of the more recent puff of smoke represents the potential tip of an iceberg in which our children and grandchildren may find themselves fighting a world war whose devastation none of us have the capability of imagining. And we’ve not had just the four previous undetected balloon passings as warnings—that could and should have prepared our government’s “intelligence agencies” to “nip” any future trespassing balloons “in the bud”. We’ve had countless warnings throughout our lifetime of the increasing saber rattling of our enemies, while our politicians and their adolescent Parties remain absorbed in infighting. And less we get caught pointing fingers, we mustn’t ignore the thousands of us glued to the News and Social Media, cheering on our perspective sides, yet not, of course, at the holy ground of the Thanksgiving diner table! All while the world slowly sloughs itself toward war.

Out here in this field, where I’m essentially standing alone, except for my good wife, our four faithful cats, our three survivalist chickens, and the birds, raccoons, squirrels, and deer that allow us to share their property, I certainly haven’t the audacity to presume to tell our politicians and our government’s “intelligence agencies” what they ought to do to stop our escalation into war. This is completely out of my control. 

Some might argue, “We have a vote! Use it wisely!” But after the last few presidential and congressional elections, I’ve lost confidence that our votes really matter to overturn the influence of those with more money and less wisdom than they know what to do with.

So what can I do? What can you do? The same four things mentioned above from St. Paul, reinforced by what Jesus had said previously in His monumental Sermon: 

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day. … But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. (Matthew 6:34, 33) 

Reiterating what our Lord had said, St. Paul said the same, in his own way: 

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Right now, as you finish this amateurish article—before this seemingly insignificant balloon-popping incident escalates into a devastating conflagration involving our children, grandchildren, and maybe even our great-grandchildren—who right now needs your love? Your forgiveness? Your help? Your prayers? And when was the last time you truly turned your attention away from the craziness of the media and our artificial digital Mega universe and humbly talked with your Creator? As St. Paul said in that chapter I quoted in my last article: 

Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. (Romans 13:11-12a).

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