UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is Britain’s new prime minister. She will formally replace Boris Johnson today when she is appointed to her office by Queen Elizabeth II.
The queen has appointed all fourteen of her previous prime ministers at Buckingham Palace in London. However, the ninety-six-year-old monarch is staying at her holiday home in Scotland between August and October. To keep her from having to travel, the new prime minister will travel to her for a ceremony unlike any other in the queen’s seventy-year reign.
British prime ministers lead the political party that gains enough elected seats in Parliament to form a ruling coalition. If their party no longer supports their leadership, as happened with Boris Johnson, they can be forced to resign. Or if a general election replaces their party, as happened with Winston Churchill in 1945, they are replaced as well.
In other words, the new prime minister will only be prime minister so long as her party supports her and her party wins the next general election (which must be held no later than 2025).
Preparing for Martian pathogens
Great Britain’s elective system and the advanced age of her queen both illustrate the finitude of the human condition. Here’s another example: former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was buried in Moscow last Saturday. According to the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin did not attend the funeral because he was too busy.
What Mr. Putin may not realize is that one day the funeral will be his. He is sixty-nine years old; life expectancy for males in Russia is sixty-eight. Americans should take note: our average life expectancy fell from nearly seventy-nine years in 2019 to seventy-six in 2021.
Here’s some good news: new COVID-19 boosters are expected to be made available this week. The new vaccine will be updated for the first time to target the latest version of the virus. However, according to one epidemiologist, we can still expect that every year, around 50 percent of Americans will be infected with the virus and more than one hundred thousand will die.
As another illustration of our mortality, Ukraine’s Minister of Energy warned yesterday that the “world is once again on the brink of nuclear disaster” after heavy shelling brought down Europe’s largest nuclear plant’s transmission line. New research has determined that there are no health benefits, only dangers, from drinking alcohol. A Denver woman fell nine hundred feet to her death while climbing in Colorado. An earthquake in China has killed at least sixty-five people.
And our greatest threats may be threats we don’t yet know to exist: NASA is planning a very special lab for handling samples that will eventually be returned to our planet from Mars. The reason is frightening: Martian pathogens could spawn a pandemic for which we have no defenses.
A sin you and I are especially tempted to commit
Yesterday we noted that “the Lᴏʀᴅ takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love” (Psalm 147:11). Here is what he does not “take pleasure in”: the sin of presumption.
Today’s stories illustrate the biblical precept, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Proverbs 27:1). Scripture warns, “No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death” (Ecclesiastes 8:8).
Unfortunately, the sin of presumption is especially tempting for those of us who seek to follow Christ. We know that we have become the children of God when so many have not (John 1:12). We study his word, pray, attend worship, contribute our tithes and offerings, and read content like this Daily Article when so many do not.
Satan would love for us to commit horrific sins that make headlines, but if we refuse, he will tempt us with “smaller” sins than those that make the news. We might then presume that if we commit these sins but are (apparently) more godly than others, we must be godly enough for God.
But “small” sins grieve the Holy Spirit just like public sins: “Whoever keeps the whole law but fails at one point has become guilty of all of it” (James 2:10). Pride in our apparent godliness is one such sin.
“What have we done that God didn’t do first?”
To this end, a statement by Max Lucado seems relevant today: “I’m wondering if you’d be willing to join me in a prayer of repentance—repentance from arrogance. What have we done that God didn’t do first? What do we have that God didn’t first give us? Have any of us ever built anything that God could not destroy? Have we ever created any monument that the master of the stars can’t reduce to dust?”
Max concludes: “Let’s humble ourselves before the hand of God. The Bible reminds us that those who walk in pride, God is able to humble. And we don’t want him to humble us, do we?”
Today’s theme became personal for me when I learned, as I noted earlier, that Americans’ life expectancy has dropped to 76.1 years. For a male like me born in 1958, life expectancy is even shorter—just seventy-four years. That is just ten more years. Said differently, according to actuarial tables, I have only 520 more weeks to live.
Now, I agree with David’s prayer to God, “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15). My grandfather lived to be ninety-nine years old. However, my father died at fifty-five. I have no idea if this is my last Daily Article or if I’ll be writing for another twenty years.
But I do know this: I must refuse the related temptations to presume that I will be here tomorrow and that I am all I need to be today. I need to be a “living sacrifice” to God every day that I live (Romans 12:1), abiding constantly and intentionally in the presence of Christ (John 15:5) and surrendered unconditionally to the leading and empowering of his Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
So do you.
Oswald Chambers noted, “The secret of the missionary is—I am his, and he is carrying out his enterprises through me.” He then added: “Be entirely his.”