The boundless power of love overflowing
By: Major Terry Israel
When saying goodbye, leaving a group or making future plans, many of us have heard, and perhaps used, that great Southern homily, “God willing and the creek don’t rise.” During a recent Bible reading, I penciled the tag “COVID-19” above James 4:13. It is the passage of perspective which challenges those who casually say, “Today or tomorrow we will …” with the admonishment that, “You don’t even know what will happen tomorrow.”
I always found a degree of comfort in believing that there was little need for practical application of that passage in the day-to-day, normal course of life. Indeed, we could make plans for tomorrow, along with the days and weeks to come, to live and experience life accordingly. For so many of us, the assumption could be made that God was willing and the creek could only be expected to rise when there was the rare major life crisis or emergency. COVID-19 has certainly forced us to accept that, as well-intentioned and necessary as our personal and professional plans are, quite literally, we don’t even know what will happen tomorrow.
I’m not sure about you, but I do not like sloshing through the streets of daily life that are now flooded as a result of the rising creek of COVID-19. I don’t like masks. (Admittedly, there are some that are very creative and entertaining). I detest the anxiety of having to consider whether the irritation in my throat and the cough that comes with it are just the usual result of the crush of Georgia spring pollen or the signs of a life-threatening virus. I grow frustrated when I purchase two packages of hamburger that I don’t immediately need and suddenly find myself entering the ethical and moral dilemma of wondering if I’m hoarding, and thereby depriving others in need, or merely taking the necessary precautions of stockpiling in preparation for an inevitable shortage. And the entire ordeal is made more traumatic because innocent children, who have no comprehension of social distancing, insist on breaching my six-foot comfort zone and dare to touch my freshly sanitized grocery cart. Did I mention that I don’t like masks? And why do I suddenly have to brush up on high school algebra just to determine how much toilet paper is enough? I want to restore the false sense of security that I’m reasonably sure about tomorrow, and I suspect there are others who want their comfy blanket back as well.
Paul made a wonderful prayer for the Thessalonians in his first letter to them (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13). He prayed that God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ would clear the way for them to see each other. Today, let us pray that very soon our society will be restored to where we can see each other, children can return to school and play sports, we will worship in church as a physical body of believers and the joy of events like graduations and weddings, although once taken for granted, will once again be ours.
Paul prayed that the Lord would make their love increase and overflow for each other and everyone else. Today, let us pray that despite the immediate circumstances that readily foster anxiety, fear, frustration and despair, the precious and powerful Holy Spirit will pour within us the love of our Savior Jesus Christ. I like that metaphor of love overflowing. It is the safe way we can reach out to everyone with complete disregard for social distancing.
Paul prayed that God would strengthen their hearts so that they would be blameless and holy in his presence on the day of Christ’s return. Today, let us pray that our hearts may be made clean, blameless and holy so that we may be with God for all eternity. While we are incessantly cleaning and sanitizing, let us be reminded that it is the precious blood of Jesus Christ that provides the means by which we meet the spiritual standard of God’s righteousness.
At the end of that letter, through the inspiration of Scripture, Paul’s benediction teaches us that Jesus is the one who calls us, he is the one who is faithful, and he will do it. Indeed, God is willing. So, who cares if the creek rises tomorrow?