Bible Reading: Mark 13:14-37
We should live every day…as if we expected Jesus to return…that day.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
The nation of Korea is located on the other side of the world from us. It is a peninsula off of the northeastern coast of China. What does a peninsula look like? Hold your hand out flat. Your palm and fingers (closed together) are the mainland and your thumb would be the peninsula. China is like your palm and fingers and your thumb would be the Korean peninsula. It is connected to China at its northern border and sticks out into the ocean between the mainland of China and the island of Japan. Or, just think Florida…it is a peninsula. The length of the Korean peninsula is about one quarter longer than the Florida peninsula.
Beginning in 1910, Korea was ruled by Japan. Towards the end of WWII (1945), Russia attacked Japan and liberated Korea from Japan north of the 38th Parallel (a line of latitude that makes a circle all the way around the world at the same distance away from the South Pole). Then, the US liberated Korea to the south. So, after WWII, Korea was split between the north and the south. Then Russia and the US entered into the cold war (it wasn’t actually a military war…but a war of political disagreements). The people in both the north and south parts of Korea developed separate governments and claimed to be the legitimate government. In 1950, North Korea attacked South Korea. War was never formally declared and in America it was officially referred to as a “police action” since the US was working with the United Nations to try and maintain peace…but it is commonly called the “Korean War”. In South Korea, it is often called the “6-2-5 Upheaval”…referring to the date that it began (June 25). In North Korea, it is often referred to as the “Fatherland Liberation War” because they felt that they were the Fatherland and that they were setting South Korea free (the problem was that they already thought that they were free and didn’t want to be controlled by North Korea). The Korean War lasted from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953. North Korea was supported by China and the Soviet Union. South Korea was supported by the US (working with the United Nations). Both of your Great-grandfathers, “Pop” (Granddad’s father, Marine Corps), and “Irv” (Grandma’s father, Army), fought in the Korean War.
In 1953, after 3 years of war, an “armistice” was signed between North Korea and South Korea. An “armistice” is not really a peace treaty…it is just an agreement to stop shooting at each other. Then, a buffer zone between the two countries was developed called the “Demilitarized Zone”, or “DMZ”. It stretched 160 miles long, from east to west across the entire country, and was 2½ miles wide.
Since there was no real peace treaty…ever since then, there has not been much peace between the two countries. North Korea is constantly threatening to attack South Korea. They are determined to take over the country. In fact, there is a greater buildup of military equipment on the two sides of the DMZ than about anywhere else in the world. North Korea has many artillery guns positioned all along their side of the DMZ. These giant cannons are aimed at South Korea and can shoot over 44 miles. Seoul, the capital of South Korea is only 25 miles away…well within reach of these guns. On top of that, over the last several years the South Korean military has found 4 underground tunnels that the North Korean military had dug to use to make a surprise invasion by their soldiers. South Korea is always on the alert for an attack by North Korea. There are several American military bases in South Korea and about 30,000 American troops are stationed there…just in case of an attack.
Back in 1985, I was on a trip to South Korea with a Christian organization. For the first several days we stayed at a hotel in downtown Seoul. The very first day there a scary thing happened. I had read about the conflict between North Korea and South Korea. I knew that at any moment North Korea could possibly attack. But in my heart…I didn’t really expect it to happen. At least…not until that afternoon. We had just arrived at our hotel and gotten our suitcases unpacked. I can’t remember exactly, but it seems that our room was on about the 20th floor. I was looking out the window when suddenly…there was a loud siren blowing. I mean loud! As I looked down at the street below…people began to run out of every building I could see and were going into the entrances of underground tunnels. I could hear people running in the hallway outside of our room. I turned to my roommate and said, “What’s going on?” He didn’t know, either. I ran to the door and threw it open just as a man passed. I yelled at him and fortunately he understood English. “Hey, what’s happening?” The man stopped, looked back at me, smiled, and said, “Oh, don’t worry. It’s just an air raid drill. We have one every week.” With that, he turned around and ran down the stairwell. So, what are we supposed to do? They didn’t tell us about any air raid alert. Well, we just decided to enjoy the show. We went back to the window and continued to watch thousands and thousands of people run into the underground tunnels. After a while the siren stopped blowing and people began to slowly come out of the tunnels and go back to where they had been before. By that time I had calmed down. But I have to be honest with you…it had scared the socks off of me. When I first heard that siren and then looked out the window and saw all those people running…I thought that we were under attack by North Korea and I was about to get blown up. It’s a little embarrassing, but my first thought was, “I didn’t come all the way to Korea just to die in a hotel room!” Real brave, huh?
For the rest of the month I stayed in a town named Uijeongbu. It is only 20 miles from the DMZ. There is an American Army base named Camp Red Cloud located there. Several times we drove to the north…towards the DMZ. I could see something on the mountainsides but could not make out what it was. When I asked my interpreter he said that they were military installations dug into the sides of the mountains with cannons aimed at North Korea in case they attacked. At one point, we were driving through a very narrow place where the road had literally been cut through a mountain. He pointed to small buildings up above us on both sides of the road and told me that they were filled with explosives. If the North Korean Army attacked and tried to use that road…those buildings would be blown up and it would cause the entire mountainside to collapse and cover up the road. Another man told me that the churches in South Korea did not keep a list of their member’s names. North Korea is largely an atheist country (they don’t believe in God) and they persecute Christians intensely. If they managed to capture South Korea it would not be easy for them to identify who was a Christian just by looking at a list of names.
I know that this has been a long story…but I told it to you so that you would realize how seriously the people in South Korea take the threat of an attack by North Korea. Every moment, of every minute, of every hour, of every day, of every week, of every month, of every year…they live with the thought in the back of their minds that they could be attacked…right now! They practice to be prepared for it every week. It affects everything in their life.
Jesus and the disciples were walking through Jerusalem. He was telling them some things about the future and how the world would come to an end. They asked Him to give them some more details. He did so…but He made one very important point. While He gave them some details about what was going to happen…He didn’t tell them when it was going to happen. Instead, He just said, “Be ready. You don’t know the exact day, or year, when it will happen. So, live every day as if that was the last day.” That is the way the people in South Korea live. They live every day with the thought in mind that this could be their last day on earth. And that is the way that Jesus said we should live. Think about it. If you knew that tomorrow, let’s say at 3:16pm, the world would end…would you live today any different? Would there be some things that would suddenly become very important to you…that you would decide you have to do, right now? Well, let’s say that you knew that the world is going to come to an end next week on the same day and at the same time. Would those things that you had decided were so important if you only had one day to live…be as important if you had only one week to live? How about one year? Or, 10 years? Jesus was saying that we out to determine what is most important in our lives by comparing them to when the world might end…or, when we might die and go to Heaven. And that could happen at any moment. I don’t know about you…but it makes some things that I do not seem so important…and other things seem much more important.
Do you think that it would help you to determine what is most important…if once a week God would sound a siren? You know…just a warning…an alert…so that you would stop and think about what is really important. Well, guess what…He does. But you will only hear it if you pray. It’s the voice of the Holy Spirit. And every time that I pray…I hear the siren. The Holy Spirit begins to speak to my heart…and He helps me keep my life in order and to know what is most important. I heard Him this very morning. Hey…have you heard the siren…today?
Love you more than bunches and bunches,