Any inhaler of literature lives with thousands of stories floating conveniently around in their grey matter, much like sailboats on the open sea. Bobbing here and there, our neurons flash around from Europe to Asia, from 750 BC to 1665 AD, from kings to servants, to whatever happens to catch the glint of the sun.
It seems that this last week my story room has been in overdrive, pulling from the old shelves dusty histories that are suddenly again relevant to this modern life.
Brutus on the 15th was the only non related. Although, in some ways he was. Chaos, I thought. Political chaos. And meanness. We’ve all been betrayed by our closest friends. It’s not nice but also at this moment irrelevant unless I’m going to choose to pray life for every single person who has done me incalculable harm.
Eli Wiesel. Transylvania asleep in willful ignorance. What? Us? Never! Life will forever be the same. Ah, you poor delusional people. Until the hobnail boots clacked down your sidewalks. Until your doors were crashed open, your children yanked from their sleeps. Then you became believers. One day to the next, life absolutely and completely changed. And changed forever. There was no turning back. You and your life would never be the same again.
Father Damien. Where I first heard the name Damian and decided to name my little boy with the same moniker as a man who willingly gave all he had. Day after day on the leper colony in Hawaii, caring for and loving the most cast out of all outcasts of society of all time, he exposed himself willingly to unbelievable risk. The inevitable had to happen and it did. Father Damien died a leper on the colony to which he had literally given his life.
Similarly, Florence Nightingale, a woman with a drive to care for the sick. Her lamp never going out by night, caring faithfully for wounded, dying soldiers.
I look down at my medicine bag, overflowing with pills for controlling lupus and hate once again the fact that I’ll never be one of the heroes. I’ll be hiding away at home instead with my definitive high-risk label, praying and praying that the Lord will have mercy on us all.
I travelled to London in 1665, watched the death wagons rolling overloaded through a filthy, deserted city.
I watched as David Ben Gurion, one terrible midnight, appointed Dov Joseph to fill Jerusalem’s warehouses with food against a siege. I saw the Arabs closing off the roads, attacking every convoy. I saw Dov Joseph making his desperate calculations again and again, appointing meager rations against the completely empty shelves of every store to somehow feed the city’s hungry Jewish population.
I’ve seen revolutionists this week, dying by the thousands.
I’ve watched Communist regimes systematically murder their own people.
And I’ve realized we live in a dream world.
We have forgotten we are just humans. We have believed ourselves above and beyond widespread tragedy. We thought ourselves invincible.
We trusted in our health systems. We trusted in our governments. We trusted in the simple fact that it’s 2020 and bad things like that just don’t happen anymore. We fell into the sin of self confidence and never realized our need for repentance.
Traveling down the corridors of history has reminded me that there is only one guarantee, one hope.
God is still on the throne, and He will remember His own;
Tho’ trials my press us and burdens distress us,
He never will leave us alone;
God is still on the throne, He never forsaketh His own;
His promise is true, He will not forget you,
God is still on the throne.
Yes, life is kind of a mess for everyone right now. Plans have been cancelled. There have been tears of disappointment. We are all uncertain and wondering. The other day we did the pre quarantine grocery trip. It wasn’t fun. It was interesting to observe the visible panic that is a madhouse Sam’s Club.
But let us never, ever, ever forget that God is still on His throne, His glory still fills the temple, His faithfulness still reaches the clouds. Just as He has ever guided kingdoms to rise and fall, or allowed plagues to ravish the earth, or permitted armies to trample innocent people, 2020 is no different. His map dotted with coronavirus was filled out long ago. We are not exempt from difficulty but neither has God forgotten us in our need.
My daughter was talking again this morning about wanting to open an orphanage. We talked about how George Mueller opened his after a similar situation where lots of adults died and kids were left alone in the early 1800’s. At the time of reading her Mueller’s biography, I had silently thought, “well, that will never happen again. Pandemics like that don’t happen anymore and governments are more organized. There will never be a need for an orphanage like that again.” And, Penelope? You still hold to that erroneous channel of expectation? My thinking greatly readjusted, we discussed the need to simply keep our eyes open and our hearts available for whatever plans God has for us. I have no doubts that this world situation will lead to openings in the gospel. May each of us be ready to serve the Lord of the Harvest.
In many ways, I’m thankful for this time of externally imposed rest. We aren’t home, we don’t have all our stuff, but we have each other, we have books, we have a couple games. We have God. We can devote much needed time to our writing ministry, we can grow and settle at the same time.
We are praying for you, wherever and whoever you are, every single day.
Never forget our God is on His throne.