For seven days, I’ve seriously wracked my brains for something comical to write in this week’s blog. I felt it was time for a change of pace. Lighten up! We need some silly frivolity or witty anecdote to mock the season. Honestly people, I really tried! I got nothing. Nada. Zero zip, zilch. You know you’re in a bad way when the best you can come up with is “God loves a hilarious giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7)! Not quite the giggle I was aiming for.
Life is abounding in the absurdly ridiculous these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s anything to laugh about. In the normal course of events, the fun-seeker would go to a show, out for dinner, a comedy club, or maybe even an amusement park. This is the season, after all, for fairs, stampedes, outdoor carnivals, festivals and other large gatherings that focus on recreation. Funnily enough, this brings to mind one of my least favorite childhood memories.
Back when there was such a thing as Klondike Days, Mom took my sister and I to the midway. Enthusiastically, we embarked on a crazy ride called “the Tilt-A-Whirl”. It was one of those tea-cup-going-round-and-round-and-just-missing-one-another deals that had people screaming like banshees. What a mistake! We weren’t thirty seconds into it when the jarring motion of violent stopping and starting, mach-three gravitation spins and the obnoxious torment akin to being in a blender overtook us. In weird, snap-shot blurs, our distorted faces mirrored each other, pea-green around the gills and threatening to whoof overpriced hot-dogs. For what seemed like endless torment, the malicious gyrations continued amidst my heart-felt prayers for survival. Finally, it was over, and we stumbled, weak as kittens, back to terra firma. I swore fervently to myself never to go on another ride as long as I lived, and I have kept that vow. I leave amusement parks to the masochistic.
Lately, that hateful memory is giving me a profound and unnerving Deja-vu. As we endure the endless cycle of Covid, I’m recalling those sensations all too vividly, and the same kind of hostile, forceful disorientation is, apparently, being globally experienced. All came to a screeching halt with the onset of lock-down and self-isolation, and we slowly emerged, only to jump back into hiding when the second wave of infections started. Stop and start. Twist and turn. Reverse. We’re head-over-tea-kettles tumbling, befuddled, bored, restless, anxious, hyper-vigilant, over-stuffed and nauseous. Life does not feel good. It’s time for the whole vicious gallop to be over. Stop this ride and let us off!
I wonder if this is how Israel felt when they were caught between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army. Can you imagine their ambivalence as God, Moses and the plagues descended on them without warning? (Is this a rescue mission or a suicide pact?) As Pharaoh finally capitulated, Israel departed Egypt, lock, stock and barrel, in the middle of the night. I’m sure their heads were spinning. When they had cried out to God for deliverance, I doubt that was what they had in mind!
But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. Isaiah 43:1-3
Is this what Revival looks like? We’ve been crying out for decades now for a fresh move of God among the nations – could this be the answer? The fabric of everything is certainly morphing before our eyes. What’s that old adage? “Be careful what you wish (pray) for; you might get it”. Trust God, the Great Iconoclast, to shatter our religious ideas of how it all should happen. The Lord doesn’t cause plagues…but He doesn’t stop them immediately, either. I suspect our theologies are getting some serious re-alignment.
Somebody send me a funny joke, because hilarity and hysteria have a little too much overlap these days. I laud the people trying to see the silver lining, mocking themselves, Instagramming their attempts at normalcy and coping. Despite everything, it is a moment to admire the resilience of the human spirit, as people really try to make the best of things.
Maybe we can turn all the whirling into a dance.
For you, O God, have proved us: you have tried us, as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid affliction upon our loins. You caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but you brought us out into a wealthy place. Psalm 66:10-12
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