“In the long history of the church, one man is simply a link in the chain of eternity.”
When I first read these lines in Pearl S. Buck’s novel, God’s Men, I was struck with how one solitary life can be of such ultimate value in the kingdom of God. Today, in one way or another, that chain is under duress. How do we keep it from buckling under the losses, disappointments and fears we all face?
On a Zoom call this week one leader laughed, “we are piled on top of one another. My two kids got into a screaming match, and I had to scream just as loud to get them to stop screaming. It’s madness around here!” When we are dropped into a new cultural norm, and that rather quickly, it can act as a shock to the senses.
Wikipedia says culture shock is a feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes. Did the phrase “way of life” jump out at you, too?
Unlike mission trips where we see culture shock set in around the second or third week, Coronavirus culture shock hit us broad side, and hit us hard. We have no other option, have no where else to turn, but to God. Yet, the strength in the chain is the hope of the gospel.
Let me suggest three ways God is building that hope today.
New hero’s are emerging: In all great western films, the villain has arrived, and the hero is evolving. Likewise the coronavirus has arrived, and new heroes are evolving and emerging. For the most part, Boomers, we are holding the yard sticks, and what we see on the field should thrill us:
Teenagers are boldly sharing their walks with God. “This is our moment to shine,” they tell us. “We have his technology down pat, I mean it’s second nature stuff. We are using it at full throttle to witness of Christ!” God is doing what no youth group, or development program can do. He’s raising up young heroes out of chaos and crisis, heroes who will bear the weight of the chain far into the future.
Hearts are being strengthened. What if the pandemic hadn’t happened? What would you and I be doing this week? Preparing for Easter! Selecting the ham, buying Easter outfits for the children, planning Easter-egg hunts. We are feeling the loss of our traditions. But in its place, God has put sticky notes on our hearts with his messages.
“Be still and know that I am God.”
“To live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
“He is not here, He is risen!”
He is giving us space to look in, to inspect places that really matter. If this shock to the system means anything, it means a pause, an honest probe, and a chance to refresh the screens of our lives and ask God to strengthen the chain.
THE Hero is Emerging! In Hebrews chapter 2, we see God’s sovereignty in full regal. But there’s a qualifier in verse 8; “Yet, at the present we do not see everything subject to him.” This has never felt more real. Why are so many dying? Why has my father in law been suffering, in part because no can sit at his hospice bedside. Why did my best friend have to die this week, of all times, when I had no chance to say goodbye? God, I need some help here. But the writer of Hebrews shouts to us in response: “But we see Jesus!” He wants to break in and reveal himself, not to make things magically go away, but to let us know he is still God in the midst of chaos and loss, and uncertainty. When we can walk in that by faith, we have taken steps of growth, better able to face the next set of trials, and stronger in the chain to hold what the world wants most of all, sacrificial love.