We have just completed three weeks of #stayathome, and it’s becoming difficult. Following the first week of quarantine, I wrote that I Could Be Frantic. In that post I wrote about how I trust God, and turn to Him when things seem uncertain. That’s still true, but this week...I cracked. I believe my children cracked, too, as my younger son cut his own hair - with electric clippers! It wasn’t too shabby, so his older brother took the chair for his haircut, too.
This week, I cried. There is too much news. Our leaders and governing agencies are not in agreement. There’s politics. People are losing their jobs, unable to pay their rent, can’t get through on the unemployment telephone line. Meanwhile, the death toll is rising and many people still do not recognize the need to change their behaviors. Our health care works are in danger each day without proper PPE. I have realized that while my job is stressful, a high degree of it is eustress - stress that I enjoy. My husband said, “I’m gonna stop telling you to leave work at work, because I see that it’s what you love. You wake up and start developing a 4th grade Science unit. There’s no way you are doing that because you hate it.” Normally, my calendar is filled with appointments, but right now, there is nothing. We are in a complete holding pattern as we wait on the Lord. I cried this week.
In last week’s blog, I wrote about how Easter Sunday is generally a high attendance Sunday for churches, but that would be different this year. I wrote about the need for all believers to be comfortable sharing the Gospel as the Church should. This week, I read the scriptures leading to Jesus’s crucifixion. A few things stood out to me in reading Matthew 26 and John 12.
1) There was conflict. There were questions about people’s motives and loyalty. John tells of Mary who poured a pint of pure nard on Jesus’s feet and rubbed it with her hair. She was questioned by Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would later betray Jesus and hand Him over to those who would crucify Him. “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12:5-6) Because we know how this story ends, it is a bit surprising to read in the Scriptures that there was conflict as it was happening. Once this pandemic ends, we may not recall the specific conflicts either, we will just be happy to be on the other side. The media, however, like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John who recorded the events, will remind us of exactly what was said, what was done, and motives will be revealed.
2) The time period is a few days before the celebration of Passover. The Passover actually took place in the Old Testament as God protected His chosen people (the Israelites) from the plague of death. In Exodus 12:4-5, we read, “So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. 5Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well.” God gave instructions to Moses to share with the Israelites on how they would be passed over when death came. On the tenth day of the month, they were to take a year-old lamb (or goat), without defect, for each household. They were instructed that if their household could not eat an entire lamb they should share with another nearby neighbor. They were to care for the animal until the fourteenth day, then slaughter it at twilight. “Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs.” (Ex. 12:7) They were instructed on exactly how to cook the animal, what to serve it with, how to dress while eating it, when to eat it, and what to do with any leftovers.
3) Jesus had a moment of weakness. As I read these scriptures, it’s evident that it was a busy time. There were gatherings and celebrations, but also conflict and uncertainty. “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.” (Matt. 26:23) “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” 35But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. (Matt. 26:34-35) In our homes, right now, if someone coughs or sneeze or feels a little warm, we question - where have you been - could you have Covid-19? We want to visit with family and friends, but we must practice social-distancing for both their sake and our own. As we continue reading in Matthew 26, Jesus goes to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. He asks the disciples to keep watch for Him, so that he can be fully focused on God the Father, for a brief period of time. When He returned to them, they were sleeping. He had to feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness and uncertainty - a feeling that He was on His own. We may feel this way, somewhat, as we follow the CDC guidelines, but see on the news that many people are not doing likewise. “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’” (Matt. 26:39)
Jesus asked God, if He could possibly be relieved of His mission. In the next sentence, He caught Himself, “yet not as I will, but as you will.” Jesus, fully man and fully God, experienced a human moment in His prayer. I cried this week. There is a lot going on and to a large degree it is out of Kim’s control. I don’t think this pandemic is a plague from God, but I do believe He is the only One who can fully stop the spread. Would I like for God to take this cup, yes, but I know that He teaches His children in ways only His infinite wisdom can orchestrate. We should all be taking this time to study God’s Word. We used to say we were too busy, but we certainly are not now. When this pandemic is over and the stat-at-home orders are lifted, we should all emerge as better human beings knowing the will of God, disciplined, and equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:17). Amen!