“Faith–Approaching Hoofbeats”

By Pastor Ron Buxton

     We certainly live in perilous times. With hurricanes and earthquakes devastating our not so distant neighbors, it is overwhelming. And if ever we needed a sense of security and calm to pacify us during these troubling events, it would be right now. Unfortunately, my friends, these are but the “birth pangs” foretold by Christ.

     Billy Graham wrote a book in 1983 called Approaching Hoofbeats. In that book, he talked about the late Harry Truman. No—not the ex-president of our great nation—but another man by that same name. Allow me a few paragraphs to borrow his introductory—albeit abridged—comments:

     “Mt. Saint Helens belched gray steam plumes hundreds of feet into the blue Oregon sky. Geologists watched their seismographs in growing wonder as the earth danced beneath their feet. Rangers and state police, sirens blaring, herded tourists and residents from an ever-widening zone of danger…

     But Harry Truman refused to budge. Harry was the caretaker of a recreation lodge on Spirit Lake, five miles north of Mt. Saint Helen’s smoke-enshrouded peak. The rangers warned Harry of the coming blast. Neighbors begged him to join them in their exodus…but Harry ignored the warnings…Harry grinned on national television [in an interview] and said, ‘Nobody knows more about this mountain than Harry, and it don’t dare blow up on him’…

     On May 18, 1980, as the boiling gases beneath the mountain’s surface bulged and buckled the landscape to its final limits, Harry Truman cooked his eggs and bacon, fed his sixteen cats the scraps, and began to plant petunias around the border of his freshly mowed lawn. At 8:31 A.M. the mountain exploded.

     Did Harry regret his decision in that millisecond he had before the concussive waves, traveling faster than the speed of sound, flattened him and everything else for 150 square miles? Did he have time to mourn his stubbornness as millions of tons of rock disintegrated and disappeared into a cloud reaching ten miles into the sky? Did he struggle against the wall of mud and ash fifty feet high that buried his cabin, his cats and his freshly mowed lawn—or had he been vaporized (like 100,000 people at Hiroshima) when the mountain erupted with a force 500 times greater than the nuclear bomb which leveled that Japanese city?

     Now, Harry is a legend in the corner of Oregon where he refused to listen. He smiles down on us from posters and T-shirts and beer mugs. Balladeers sing a song about old Harry, the stubborn man who put his ear to the mountain but would not heed the warnings.”

     Folks, we live in troubled times. Perilous times. The only thing that seems certain—across the natural, economic and political landscapes—is uncertainty. If we anchor our hopes upon human pride and ingenuity, then we are no better than the late Harry Truman from Oregon. Sadly, our Adamic nature so disposes us that way.

     While we should be able to hear the “approaching hoofbeats” of the period of human history in which we live, it is unfortunate that the vast majority of our friends and family choose not to hear those warnings. In fact, some reading this article are beginning to shake their heads and mutter unrepeatable phrases right now. That is tragic, because there is hope–eternal hope—for those that respond to this message of warning.

     Harry Truman could have (and should have) joined his neighbors in the massive evacuation around Mt. Saint Helens on that fateful day in May 1980. Faith in Christ is like that. The author of Hebrews wrote: “…we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:18,19)

     Can you hear the “approaching hoofbeats”? Let Christ provide the “anchor for your soul” in these troubled times of uncertainty!


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