Prairie View

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Covid and a Straight Line to God

One of the confounding things about being under multiple authorities is that sometimes these authorities do not agree.  What is a person to do when this happens?  COVID-19 has provided many opportunities for pondering this dilemma.  As of the past several weeks, changes both in local infection levels (significant increase), and in what we're hearing from our county and church leaders has "raised the temperature"* on this issue.

I realized several days ago that, without putting it into words, I had settled into an approach that at the moment seems to be serving me well.  Clarity began to be restored when I acknowledged that God is the ultimate authority.  Ideally of course, every other authority lines up neatly under God's authority, and there is then no question about the message being delivered through one's authorities.  All that is left to people like me is to decide whether to obey** or not.   

I imagine the process of receiving guidance from my authorities being something like seeing God bathed in light at the top of a mountain while I am surrounded by darkness in a valley below. The whole mountainside lies in shadow.  Many figures, each one a lesser authority than God, stand between the valley and the mountain top.  They each hold a light.  My goal is to get to the top of the mountain where God is. How I wish that all those lights appeared in a straight line between me and God.  I wish also that the circle of light around each figure would be big enough to extend to the edge of the circles around neighboring figures.  That would spare me from floundering in the dark along the way.    

What I have seen recently as it applies to navigating the hazardous terrain of COVID-19 is that God offers me a light that ensures that I can get to him, even if the circles of light on the mountainside are too small and the dark places are too large.  That light is the guidance of the Holy Spirit within.  In mundane terms, I will know how to act individually in dealing with Covid in specific situations, because God's spirit will show me.  

Whether the problem we encounter is unwise actions by authorities or unwise responses to those authorities, our first and last priority is to stay connected to God. In him we "live and move and have our being."  This is our safe place.  


*A term from Leadership Reno County classes.  It is a strategy that can be useful in moving toward  change when it is needed.  In general, the idea is similar to exerting pressure. I see prayer, witness, and appeal as legitimate person-to-person ways of raising the temperature.

**Other words could be used here in relation to authority:  support, agree with,  affirm, comply with, etc.

Note:  I've have had many problems with this post.  The original version (which is now lost due to technical problems) had a reference to something Covid-related that I learned from E. W., my cousin, when we visited during our Sunday afternoon walk.  Additional information later showed me that I needed to re-examine some of the conclusions I had drawn from that original information, so I removed the post, in order to rewrite it.  Then I added material along a different vein, which is now also lost.  All that to say that what I copied below from Facebook now seems disconnected from the other content, but it didn't start out that way.  I decided to post it anyway, for your interest and for my record.

This cousin just received a visa in preparation for moving overseas for five years.  The language learning is happening in preparation for being able to communicate after he and his wife arrive in their destination country.  I have learned that being a bit vague about details in cases like E. W.'s is sometimes necessary because of sensitive conditions or a fragile welcome in a destination country.  I don't know enough to know whether such caution is warranted in this case, but I'm choosing to err on that side, just in case.  

Yesterday on our walk along the nearly deserted straight, flat, paved road by our house, my cousin came along on his bike. He was getting in some exercise (and some language learning via electronics) on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. We talked all the way home, properly distanced, with his biking on one side of the road and our walking on the other side.
Among the interesting things I learned is that an oil-rich country in the Middle East is investing heavily in solar energy. My cousin knows this because his son lives there and works in that industry. Do you think maybe they know something in the Middle East that America should also be acknowledging?
The son speaks both Arabic and French because of having spent part of his childhood in countries or schools where those languages were spoken, but uses far more English in the course of his work than the other languages. English is the undisputed world trade language, and knowledge of it is very common in almost every country's expat communities.
Another interesting thing I learned is that Portuguese is the language of at least one African country.
I learned too that a private program exists in the US where teachers are placed in public schools, even though they may not have acquired an education degree. It's a two-year program, and they get a crash course in teaching before they begin. They're paid for their work. The cousin's daughter teaches in Seattle.
One final thing I learned is that the cousin's brother, who has lived and taught for years in a university in the country that was the US nemesis in the Cold War was recently granted a permanent visa to that country. This is an enormous favor to a foreigner, and reveals a great deal of confidence in him. Did I mention that he knows now that he has been the target of previous investigations by the government of the country in which he works and resides during the school year?
We traveled a long way safely in that short walk home. A gift for sure in the fraught and frightening current environment.


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