Saturday, July 22, 2017

Passing the Test

He replied, "When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times..."

-- Matthew 16:2-3

If you're a fan of Star Trek, you'll be happy to know that filming is underway for the next installment of the popular movie franchise. Star Trek 4 is scheduled for release sometime in 2018. And rumor has it that the plot involves Captain Kirk crossing paths with his father, the young Star Fleet commander who sacrificed his life in the 2009 Star Trek reboot to save his newborn son and the Federation fleet.

Speaking of the first Star Trek reboot, Star Trekthere's a scene where Kirk--then a brash Star Fleet Academy cadet--must undergo a computer-simulation exercise called the Kobayashi Maru Test. Designed by Mr. Spock, the test places Kirk in a no-win scenario as the commander of a starship facing the overwhelming force of aggressive Klingon warbirds.

Kirk remains calm while the imaginary Klingon spacecraft open fire. He even munches an apple from the comfort of the captain's chair as his exasperated crew wonders aloud if their leader will take action amidst the chaos. Star Fleet Academy observers also question if the cocky cadet takes the situation seriously. But just at the protective shields of Kirk's vessel are about to give way, the Klingon attack grinds to a halt. Then, it's the Klingons' shields that begin to fall. And with a few well-aimed photon torpedoes ordered by Kirk, the enemy ships are quickly destroyed.

The Kobayashi Maru Test was meant to gauge Kirk's response to impending defeat in an unwinnable situation. But since he had reprogrammed the simulation and re-written its conclusion, he could remain confident in the midst of circumstances that no previous cadet had overcome.

"I don't believe in no-win scenarios," Kirk later explained. And why should he? After all, he already knew the story's outcome.
Maybe our world isn't under attack from a squadron of Klingon warbirds. But a quick check of the news headlines reveals considerable turmoil in our midst. Thank God (literally) that we don't have to rely on our own cleverness to overcome it. The good news is that our Creator is in control of our crazy environment of politics, unemployment, revolutions and corruption. Maybe that's hard to believe. However, God's Word (the Bible) explains that he had it all figured out thousands of years ago--even before the world was formed. He knew which of us would be his followers. And he knew that his creation would need a perfect Savior to deliver us from the consequences of our misdirected lives.

The timing had to be perfect. And so it was. Centuries after the Old Testament had promised his arrival, Jesus was born in an obscure village called Bethlehem--exactly as predicted. Later, prophesy after prophesy would be fulfilled during Christ's brief ministry through his remarkable words and deeds.

Why does this matter to Jesus' modern-day followers? Throughout our trials big and small--and when our world seems to be crumbling around us--we can rest assured that God's plans are always trustworthy and on schedule, even when we don't understand what's happening. We can't see things through his perspective. But since he wrote life's first chapter, last chapter and everything in between, we can be confident that God already knows how our stories will turn out. Moreover, he's the author of a happy ending for those who love him and trust in his Son. 

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