A man was driving his pickup truck on an Australian highway when he noticed a reptile in the vehicle. And not just any reptile. It was an eastern brown snake—highly venomous and responsible for the majority of snakebite deaths in the country.
It started to wrap around him, striking at the driver’s seat between his legs. He used a seatbelt and a knife to fight it off while trying to stop the car. He thought he had been bitten and feared for his life, since eastern brown snake bites are fast-acting and fatal.
After killing the snake, he hit the accelerator and headed for the closest hospital. To make things worse, a police officer saw him driving at high speed and pulled him over. The man explained his predicament, and the officer called for help. When paramedics arrived, they determined that the man had not been bitten but was suffering from shock.
“It was pretty terrifying,” he admitted. If there’s a bigger understatement in today’s news, I haven’t seen it.
Atlanta’s mayor tested positive for coronavirus
Officials from the State Fair of Texas announced yesterday that the fair has been canceled for the first time since World War II due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In other COVID-19 news, Atlanta’s mayor announced that she has tested positive for the disease. While she says she has no symptoms, she notes: “It really speaks to how contagious this virus is, and we’ve taken all the precautions you can possibly take.” Brazil’s president said yesterday that he has tested positive for the virus as well.
There are times when we must fight the snake in the truck with no help from others. The virus that is afflicting our world affects our institutions but infects us individually, no matter who we are.
We are claiming this week God’s promise: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12). Yesterday, we noted the urgency of trusting and serving him in solidarity with others. Today, let’s discuss the courage to trust and serve him whether others join us or not.
Nations are made of people. A nation does not have a soul or the ability to make God its Lord. This is something its inhabitants must decide. We must each do individually what we hope to do collectively.
In The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis notes that the real reason we need democracy is not that we are all so wise and good that we deserve a share in the government. Rather, it is because “fallen men [are] so wicked that not one of them can be trusted with any irresponsible power over his fellows.”
At the same time, people will outlive institutions by a factor of eternity. Quoting Lewis again, this time in Mere Christianity: “If individuals live only seventy years, then a state, or a nation, or a civilization, which may last for a thousand years, is more important than an individual. But if Christianity is true, then the individual is not only more important but incomparably more important, for he is everlasting and the life of a state or a civilization, compared with his, is only a moment.”
Two life principles follow.
Twenty-three years of obedience
One: We should choose to make the Lord our God at any cost because we cannot measure the eternal significance of present faithfulness.
I am reading the book of Jeremiah these days and found this statement by the prophet to the people of Judah: “For twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, to this day, the word of the Lord has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened” (Jeremiah 25:3).
Imagine doing anything for twenty-three years without apparent success. To the contrary, Jeremiah was whipped and put in stocks (Jeremiah 20:1–3), faced a mob that tried to have him executed (26:1–9), was beaten and imprisoned (37:11–15), and was even put into a deep cistern where he sunk into its mud and was left to die (38:1–6) before he was later rescued (vv. 7–13).
Nonetheless, the prophet remained faithful to his Lord. Even when he was taken against his will to Egypt, he continued to prophesy (Jeremiah 43–44). According to ancient tradition, he was stoned to death there by his fellow Jews.
Despite the cost of his courage, who today would not wish for a life of such historic and eternal significance?
What I’m learning from the pandemic
Two: We should help others make the Lord their God because this is the greatest gift we can offer them.
In these difficult days, we often hear people describe what they miss that they were doing before the pandemic. However, there’s another side: What were you doing before the pandemic that you don’t miss today?
In other words, what are you learning about what matters most? What are you discovering about the best use of your time and resources? How are you learning to focus on that which is truly significant?
My answer is that the pandemic has given me the opportunity to center more fully on seeking to know God and make him known. The lack of meetings, travel, and outside events has brought an unprecedented focus to my days. And I am learning anew that seeking and speaking God’s word to our questions and issues is my heart’s passion and joy.
His word is clear: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10). What gift has God given you for serving others? Whom can you serve in ways you could not before the pandemic? What can you do to love your Lord and your neighbor in new ways?
If you will live a life God can bless, you will be grateful for all of eternity. If the rest of us follow your example, so will we.