Today’s Word from Pastor Tom Kidd…
“Three times O Lord have I called out to you, three times! How long will you keep me waiting?”
Sounds kind of Biblical, don’t you think? And maybe a bit melodramatic. As far as I know it is not from the Bible, rather it is a line that popped into my head a couple of days ago when we again had to cancel a family vacation planned to celebrate Brenda’s birthday. Her birthday was last May. Coronavirus won again; three times canceled over 9 months. Children, spouses, grandchildren, all ready again to leave for our appointed destination. Our M.D. got real pushy… “You both have preexisting conditions… you may leave testing negative but there is a good chance you won’t return the same way.” What a nag (I actually like her).
“Three times O Lord, three times…” Okay, I admit it, I can get a little over the top sometimes. I actually don’t think the Lord really gives much of a whit if the family gets to Southern CA or Hawaii right now or not. Though we did have a killer Christmas Card photo planned. Alas, to quote my Norwegian auntie, “Sugar!!”
My story is not unique, we have all had disappointments as a result of this pandemic. I am grateful, though, that I have not had to live through the personal loss of a debilitating case, or even worse, a death. The picture of hospitals relying on freezer trucks for temporary morgues puts my whiny vacation loss in perspective. As I write this we are, as a nation, closing in on a quarter million deaths. This loss is mind boggling. We have now surpassed the combined number of deaths from the atomic blasts over Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of WWII. My stomach turns at the thought.
We all long for the day when this pandemic, like Smallpox, passes from our history. But we are living in the interim. Right now, we still have to make decisions. Like forgoing vacations. When my faith/imagination feels a bit dry I like going to Proverbs. Here’s one for little, sometimes pouty, Tommy Kidd… “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12
This one speaks to me. It makes my heart sad to have to keep deferring plans, yet the longing for its fulfillment is like a life giving-tree (Tree of Life is an important image stretching from Genesis to Revelation). Proverbs 16:9 is a favorite, “Make your plans that the Lord may direct your paths.” God wants us to make plans because it means we are moving. We may be moving absolutely the wrong direction but if we’re moving, God can turn us. Without making plans God has two problems with us. Sometimes Proverbs are just winsome and playful as with… “Gray hair is a crown of splendor” 16:31. Does that mean I am splendid?
Here’s my point: imagination is the wellspring of faith. Proverbs, like much of scripture, can prick our imagination which in turn can open the way for the Spirit to speak to us in our current situation. I often do not… I repeat… do not know exactly what I am looking for when I open the scriptures. I know only that I am hungry, thirsty, lonely, angry, sad, fearful, disappointed, et al, and I have a hole in my heart that I cannot fill. It is a God hole. In my need I am desperate for God to be the Father to the fatherless, Mother to the motherless, Spouse to the widow(er) Child to the childless, and Vacation to the vacationless… you get it.
Okay, I feel better. Thanks. We’ll figure out a Christmas card another way. Meanwhile, in my own playful and pastoral way I would encourage you to believe you are not alone. Find a Proverb, a verse anywhere in the Bible, that speaks to your heart and know you are profoundly loved by the God of scripture as well as by your church brothers and sisters.
I miss you and long for the day we gather again… it’s a God hope. For my God hole.