After I graduated from the Air Force Academy, I spent the next two years learning to fly. I learned to navigate and then to defend the plane against enemy air defenses. I learned the systems of the B-52 and how to employ nuclear weapons.
Being a cold warrior meant spending every third week or so on alert, living in an alert facility, ready, when the klaxon sounded, to run to a bomber loaded and cocked at the end of the runway. It was my job to help decode the launch message. If the President ordered, we would take off, fly to the other side of the world, and unleash the greatest destructive power the world had ever seen.
I went on to assignments in reconnaissance, intelligence, and flight test, but the Soviet Union was always the focus. I spent years studying its weapons and tactics, strategy and ideology.
When the Berlin Wall fell, I felt I had helped win the Cold War.
So now, the Russian attack on Ukraine seems like an old nightmare.
But here’s the thing. In the Cold War it was clear who the enemy was. But every one of us faces a deadly threat that we’re mostly unaware of.
All conflict can be traced back to the story of the first murder in Genesis 4.
Cain was angry that the Lord had “not looked with favor” on his offering.
God said, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door, but you must master it.”
This foundational story of the Judeo-Christian tradition identifies sin as a predator, crouching, unseen, and deadly.
The horrific scenes coming out of Ukraine make clear the consequences when sin comes out of hiding and moves on a massive scale.
But notice that God was on alert for Cain’s simple anger. God’s first question outside the Garden of Eden was, “Why are you angry?”
So, before our anger goes from cold to hot, and the destruction widens, we need to ask that question of ourselves.