“It feels like we are living through history,” I mumble it to the Farmer this morning as I make the bed.
“We are — we always are.”
“But — I don’t want to be living through this kind of history.” I look up at him.
“But HIStory — is whose story?” He smiles.
40-ish days of quarantine now so far.
Half the planet locked down behind their doors to escape a strange & novel virus.
I mean — c’mon.
The head of the UN food agency just released news that 30 countries are on the brink of a “famine of biblical proportions.”
The worst swarms of locusts in a quarter of a century are devouring the crops of East Africa.
Unemployment levels are the highest since the Great Depression, more than 22 million Americans are unemployed. The equivalent of the entire work force of 23 states. From San Antonio to Cleveland, the queue of cars at food banks stretches up to six miles long.
Covid particularly preys on those with diabetes and cardiac defects. Which is to say, our son and our daughter. And even if and when we lift a lockdown, that doesn’t lockdown a stalking virus.
No one wants to cry fire too soon — but only fools keep smiling blithely when their hair is on fire.
When your world is on fire you burn a path straight to the only Living Water and you throw yourself into the only well that can make us well.
Now isn’t the time to be dozing through fire alarms when whole floors of the building are engulfed in flames. If every single one of us was fighting through fiery battles before, we are all now in one protracted and hellacious inferno, battling for our lives.
The days we are in are not a drill. We practiced our faith for days like these.
Now is the time to wake up and smell the smoke, and get yourself to the One who is the pillar of Fire who will lead our way through, exactly when there seems to be no way.
Your life on the planet right now is for such a time as now.
Now is the time I put feet to the floor and think this is when all the rubber meets the road, think that we are all living history right now, think now is when we have to live the Stockdale Paradox.
Vice Admiral James Stockdale endured seven long years of torture in a prison during the Vietnam War, while other prisoners broke one after another, the ones who kept saying, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”
Turns out: Optimism can be excessively oppressive. Optimists can die of their optical illusions.
Thinking “We’re going to be out by Christmas” — can drive people out of their minds.
Try to break the code of your story’s timeline, and you can die of a broken heart.
So how did Stocksdale not grow depressed and break too? The guy realized:
The only way to travel life’s journey is: Accept brutal hardships on one hand, while gripping Brave Hope in the other.
I keep looking in the mirror every morning and telling myself about today, tomorrow, about life:
The Story will be trying but it will be triumphant.
The Story will be arduous, but it will be victorious.
The Story will be long and demanding, but you can live it so in the end it will demand a long standing ovation.
However our stories look:
Never put your faith in the timeline of the story — but never lose faith in the end of the story.
Accept that the story is going to be long and hard — but never lose faith that it’s going to be a good story.
Let go of the timeline of the story — but never let go of the plot line of the story.
If you think you know the timeline of your story — in time, your heart will shatter. But you can know by heart the plot line of your story — that the last line is guaranteed to be a good line.
It is the realists who thrive because they accept the reality of a close God, on a long timeline, writing a good story.
Dangerous Optimists may say: We are going to be out by Christmas.
But it’s the Wisest Realists who say: No matter what happens, we are going to be found in Christ.
The Realists are the ones who don’t waver from the realest Reality: God never abandons, so we can fully abandon ourselves to Him.
When there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight, simply keep Jesus Himself in sight and you see The Way through.
When your faith is in the One who writes the story — you can always trust the end of the story.
You can trust:
Everything’s going to be okay — because the Word Himself walks into our story and walks with us, until the story ends in His time, in His ways, for our ultimate good and for His ultimate glory — and that is why everything’s going to be okay.
And if everything’s not okay yet, everything’s not over yet.
I’m standing in my kitchen on the 40th-something day of quarantining.
And I murmur it, there at the kitchen window:
“But Lord, where would we go? No one but You gives us the revelation of eternal life.” John 6:68
In the middle of quarantining, there is nowhere to go and there is only One place to go.
And I leave my Bible open on the counter all day, starved for the only real food, for the only Water that quenches and extinguishes all the flames of these surreal days.
This isn’t a drill. The world’s on fire. And you fight fire with fire — with a more passionate love burning in your bones.
We are living history — and we get to live HIStory.
And early in the morning, the kitchen floods with all this light, all this light lighting everything, for such a time as now.
No matter what is shutting down, nothing can shut Hope Down
In a crisis like this, we get to:
Vulnerably show up to share needs