Extinguished or Distinguished

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

The 187th Fighter Wing of the Alabama Air National Guard had a change of command January 10, 2015.  Colonel Samuel W. Black turned over the command to Colonel Randal K. Efferson.

The opening sentence of the Montgomery Advertiser article announcing this read, “Families, extinguished guests and citizen airmen from across the state…”  I am sure the article meant to read “distinguished” guests and citizen airmen, but the word used was “extinguished.”

The article went on to say how many state and high ranking military leaders would be present.  I assume they are the extinguished who should have been designated the distinguished.  I don’t think I want to be an extinguished guest.

The 187th Fighter Wing is distinguished!  Gen. Steven Berryhill said there was discussion whether a Guard Wing could rotate into Afghanistan as the Lead Wing.  Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke III and four-star Gen. Gilmary Hostage III pushed for the 187th to be the lead unit with no rotations.  With only 6 months to prepare (instead of the normal 12) the 187th Fighter Wing exceeded expectations!

What is the line between extinguished and distinguished?  It is only a heartbeat.  Some day all of the distinguished people will become extinguished people.  That is just the nature of life – and death.

I checked with the Bureau of Statistics in Alabama and the rate of death is still 100%.  Nobody avoids death.  The Bible says it is appointed for every man to die once(Hebrews 9:27).  James also refers to life as being like a vapor on a glass.  The vapor is there and you can see it, but soon it will be gone. (James 4:14)

The real question is – what can we do that would distinguish us before we are extinguished?  If you look on tombstones you always see the birth date and the death date.  The numbers might be 1935-2015.  That tells us a lot about when a person is born and when the person died.  But all of that person’s life is wrapped up in that one small dash.

What do we remember about distinguished people?  Some folks leave a legacy of accomplishments, wealth, accolades, trophies, and honors.  A few years from now, who is going to remember those?

The things that people remember are the investments someone makes in the lives of other people.  Distinguished people are people who make a difference.

I know it was a typographical error – extinguished instead of distinguished. All publications like preachers make errors. Montgomery is proud to be home of the 187th Fighter Wing.  Their fighter planes proudly display the “Red Tails” because the 187th is home to the historic 100th Fighter Squadron of the Tuskegee Airmen.  Thanks to all of our military who provide opportunities for us to become distinguished and not extinguished.

You can quickly go from being distinguished to being extinguished.  The Good News is you can also go from extinguished to distinguished because Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, shall live, even when he dies” (John 11:25).  I’m blessed to be on God’s eternal distinguished list. Everyone has that possibility!

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