There was once a nuclear missile pointed at Pilot Grove, Missouri, a tiny little town in the middle of the state. I say that the Soviets had such a missile, but I have no firsthand knowledge. What I do know is that about a mile north of town on Route 135, you’ll see the tell-tale arrangement of stout fencing that marks the former location of one of Whiteman Air Force Base’s old Minuteman missile silos. Since the U.S. had a missile there, it’s a fair bet that the other guys had this spot on a target list.
Driving up Route 135 yesterday, I got to thinking about that artifact of the cold war. In the image here, you’ll find the missile site to the left of the main road where apparently somebody is now storing hay. Glance up to the top left of the photo and you’ll see the former right-of-way of the MKT Railroad, which is now Missouri’s Katy Trail. The town of Pilot Grove would be off the screen, down and to the left, probably about where your monitor ends.
This town was founded in 1872. Some of my ancestors lived in the area as far back as 1820, but no town popped up until the railroad came through. Now, less than 150 years later, the railroad is long gone, converted to a lovely bike trail. The nuclear missiles began to be deployed around Whiteman AFB in 1963 and were decommissioned in 1995. Therefore, in one map image we can see the remnants of two technologies that came to this part of the country, left their mark in fairly dramatic manner, and then became obsolete.
At the same time, with the nukes and the railroad gone, many of the things that brought my ancestors to this part of the country remain a powerful draw. Animals still graze on the Missouri hillsides, and hay, now baled into a giant round bales, still gets those beasts through the winter. The farms are larger and raise different crops, but they still involve quality soil, plowing, harvesting, and the like.
The creations of man are temporary. They can mark the land in long-lasting ways, but they are not nearly as permanent as we think them to be at the moment. The creations of God, however, endure. People can damage those creations, but in most cases, the forces of nature, left to their own devices, will push things back toward where they began. Barring something drastic happening, the trees will still lift their branches to the sky and the rivers will continue to flow to the sea. As much as we like to think otherwise, it is God in control rather than man. It is God, rather than man, who provides for life.
He causes grass to grow for the livestock
and provides crops for man to cultivate,
producing food from the earth.–Psalm 104:14
Is there still a nuclear missile aimed at Pilot Grove, Missouri? That I can’t answer, but a look at the countryside suggests that we should fear not cataclysmic weapons or hurtling technology. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Perhaps we should truly begin.