It's Certainly Time to "Pull Ourselves Together"
Our title today comes from a tremendous article by C.S. Lewis. He wrote about fear back in 1948. Brits were fearful of the newly invented atomic bomb. They knew that, at any moment, one could be dropped on their city. The only two that had been dropped previously, and it turns out the only two ever used in an attack, were by the Americans on Japan in 1945, killing at least 120,000 people!
People were panicking. Lives were shutting down out of paralyzing fear. With a call to civility and perspective, C.S. Lewis wrote an essay entitled: "On Living in an Atomic Age." But the title could just as easily been: "On Living in the Pandemic Age. Below, I will include three paragraphs from that essay for your consideration.
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.
I have a few questions for you, based on the excerpt above:
- Have you been thinking too much of the pandemic virus? Yes, I know lives are being lost. And yes, there is risk for your family. But is this so different from any number of other risks that exist in this life? Have you allowed the weight of this new problem to convince you that mortality is some novel new danger? Let's not go around comparing COVID-19 to the Flu. But let's be sure and put them both under the same heading: Realities of Life Under the Sun.
- Can our current distress give us some greater perspective? I know that's a wide open question; but I'm mainly referencing the fact that major events of devastation have existed throughout world history since time began. Christians had to stand by faith while their lives and the lives of their children battled any number of eminent dangers. Isn't it time to stop being scared? Maybe we need to embrace the fact that a life without danger is the anomaly, and a physical life of uncertainly has almost always been the rule in the lives of God's people.
- How do you want to be found if death comes to your home? Certainly we pray for safety, health, and long life. We pray to see our grandchildren raised, and to keep living on this earth. But death is real and is visiting homes. What will it find if it comes to your home? Will it find doubting words and closed Bibles? Will it find paralyzing fear and mitigated effort? Or will it find you singing hymns, reading the Word, speaking of God, and celebrating the hope that Jesus alone can provide? If that does not describe your life... you are not ready for death to come. But it may come anyway. Let's get in ready position, not matter what happens next.
You might wonder: "How do I get through this? I need to change my habits, but I don't know how. I need to put the phone down, or turn off the television, and get focused on things that matter. I need a purer heart for God; now more than ever." Let me finish by restating the 6 Application points from the Podcast. They spell out the word PURELL!
Pray - Pray alone. Pray with family. Pray for you, for them, for all. Pray emotionally. Pray specifically. Pray until you know God is with you. Pray because God is with you.
Utilize - This words means to make practical and effective use of something. Utilize the time you have. Utilize the cleared schedule. Utilize the chance to bond with family.
Read - Read the Word. Read on your own, a chapter a day. Read with your family, gathered together with open Bibles. Read randomly. Read specifically. Let God's word do its work.
Encourage - Be an encourager. Pick people up, don't tear them down. Be a voice of hope, of Christ, of God's promises. Call a member in need. Text a friend. Post something lovely.
Laugh - Why the long face? Do we need a Debby-Downer in every conversation? We know things aren't good right now. What we need is enjoyment of one another, happiness, laughter.
Love - Oh how important this is. Christians and churches are making tough decisions. Lives are on hold or changed forever. Love one another. Be kind, patience, and supportive.
You've heard me talk about the ESM 3-Month Journal. If you are looking for a practical way to get these things going, the daily entries are designed to give you guidance. You will pray each day, read each day, and encourage others every single day. You can look at photos of the journal and order at our Excel Still More website.
Thank you for supporting our program. If you believe this blog can help someone you care about, be sure and click a link on the right to share it on social media or email to friends. Have an amazing weekend! And always remember: whatever you choose to do today in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, excel still more.