When this whole virus pandemic became a reality to me in early March, I hit the wall. As we had done for about 25 of the 27 years we have lived in Augusta, we were busily preparing our house for our Masters rental. There’s a rhythm that happens every year toward the end of February when we start earnestly getting everything ready—cleaning up the yard, cleaning out and reorganizing closets, stockpiling toilet paper and cleaning supplies (which has been really helpful this year), eating all the food in the freezer and refrigerator so the renters will have space, buying new towels, linens, etc. These are just a few of the things. In addition, we have to plan where we will be during that time. Our renters come on the Thursday before the Masters and leave on the Monday after; that’s 11 days altogether.
This year we had planned to go to our son’s house for a few days, celebrate a first birthday for our youngest grandson, then go to our daughter’s house for the whole week of the tournament, celebrate Easter at her house, then return on Monday. We had plans on the following Saturday to meet my cousin and his wife for a week in Key West. There were other things planned through June. It was going to be an action-packed, busy time. Then it wasn’t. Suddenly my calendar was wiped clean. Even as I’m writing this, I got a call to reschedule a mammogram that was to be on April 27.
Do you remember watching Road Runner cartoons where the Road Runner bricked up the entrance to the tunnel and Wile E. Coyote hit the wall at full speed and once flattened, fell off the wall? That’s how it feels, doesn’t it? I know all of you have your own experiences you could share about what was to have been during March and April, and maybe May? You know the feeling.
The term, “hit the wall” is commonly used by athletes who are in a race and get to the point of exhaustion where they can go no further. That’s a little different from the wall we’ve hit.
First of all, the wall was not one of our own making. This wall was thrown at us. It came from out of nowhere. It is unseen and unknown. We were all going full-speed ahead in whatever activities we had planned and suddenly there was a wall. Secondly, it is not a wall I’ve hit alone, but we’ve all hit it at about the same time. For those in the medical field, it meant a drastic change of course in their work activities. Surgeries were canceled, all resources were redirected to fight this virus, their normal days became overwhelmed with this abnormal set of circumstances. For some it meant losing a job or being furloughed and for others, it meant working from home. Many parents began having to homeschool their kids, even though they have other jobs of their own. For most of us, it meant losing retirement savings, regardless of our age. It has affected us differently, but we have all been affected nonetheless.
This has been a time different from any in my lifetime and I’ve been around a pretty long time. It was not a happy moment for me to learn that I’m in a high-risk group due to my age, even though I’m in good health. Since I’d like to continue in good health, I’ve taken all the precautions to stay that way including masking up and going grocery shopping at 6 AM. I’m not a morning person. I feel like the Proverbs 31 woman who gets up before it is light to have food for her family. I wonder if she took a nap at 8:30 AM? Did she have to sanitize everything that came into her house? We have a grandson who is diabetic. He’s high risk too at the age of 8. We fear passing the virus to him should we come in contact with someone who has it. As a result, we haven’t gone to visit our grandchildren, and that’s our biggest sacrifice. We’ve been following the directives since March 10. Today is April 16. I’m reminded of Habakkuk. “How long, O Lord?”
As I thought about it, I thought about other times I’ve hit the wall.
- I was laid off from a job I loved one month before a training meeting that I was leading. I was well into the planning and preparations when a recession hit—around 1990—and I was laid off.
- A few times Jim was transferred with his job and my whole life was rearranged.
- I was planning a wedding for our daughter—we had a dress and veil, invitations purchased, non-refundable deposits had been made—and she wisely and abruptly broke up with him and called to tell me. That was a wall.
- There was the time I retired. This was by plan, but suddenly I was home every day and had to recreate my daily schedule. Actually, I think retirement has been like training for this quarantine. Being a life-long extrovert who rarely spends more than one day in a row at home, retirement was a wall.
These are just a few times, but there has been a constant throughout all the times I’ve hit the wall. Our precious Lord has been with me. Every single time, He has helped me to find my way. He knows what I need and when I need it. He knew what was going to happen before it happened. He prepared me when I didn’t know He was preparing me. I had the toilet paper and sanitizing wipes I needed before this wall arrived. Interestingly, I kept buying food while I was trying to make room in my freezer and refrigerator. I told Jim I shouldn’t be doing this, because we need to make space. That food I bought sustained us for two whole weeks before I needed anything again.
Surprisingly, I have not been climbing the walls, like I normally do if I’m in the house for a whole day. I’ve found some things to do that I had put off doing because I really needed to be Masters prepping. I’m walking. I keep reading Habakkuk. I’m reading my Bible even more than usual and seeing how God always provides for His people, even when he allows a virus to attack the whole world. We often quote 2 Chronicles 7:14, but if we look at verse 13, we read, “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people,” then verse 14, “and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
I watched a podcast by Tony Evans on March 21. In it he said, “Behind every physical reality there is a spiritual reality.” This statement echoes in my mind as I pray and ask God to remove this virus from us. In addition, he said, “When God allows the shaking, He is trying to get our attention. When He is being marginalized, He allows a disruption so there will be a new opportunity to focus on Him.” Wow! That’s exactly what’s happening now. Does He have our attention yet? We’ve seen disease, death, and deadly tornadoes in the past 6 weeks. Dr. Evans also used Hebrews 12:27-29 in his message: This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”
Our world is being shaken. That is a physical reality. There is a spiritual reality behind it. God’s kingdom and authority cannot be shaken. To live in this physical reality requires that we give God His worth. We must use spiritual weaponry and truths to combat the spiritual reality behind what’s going on. We must praise Him and serve Him.
Our friend Habakkuk prays that God would “revive Your work in the midst of the years…in wrath remember mercy…” (v. 3:2) and “You went forth for the salvation of Your people.” (v.3:13) and concludes his prayer worshipfully with, “Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength…” (v. 3:18-19)
And I pray, to our God, the consuming fire, please remove this wall. Revive Your work. In wrath, remember mercy. Destroy this virus so that all will see and know that it is You on whom we need to focus our attention and give our worship. Amen.