My mom lives in Tuscaloosa, AL, God’s country. One particular trip to see mom a few years ago comes to mind today and has relevance for the Coronavirus crisis.
We went out to eat and on the way home she told me, “All of us are afraid.”
“Mom, who is afraid?” I asked.
“All of the old folks, the ladies in my Sunday school class.”
She then told me the story about the murder of an older lady, who had been a retired professor from the University. She lived alone and had been a great, well-respected community leader. Not an enemy in the world. She lived in a safe neighborhood.
An intruder killed her. Mom and her friends were afraid. Mom always locked her doors, but that night she had lights on too—lots of them. Her house looked like a disco. Fear is a feeling. It does no good for me to say, “Mom the chances of that happening to you are slim.” That is like saying to someone who is afraid of flying, “You know that statistically, you are safer flying that driving.” They don’t give a hill of beans about statistically. They are afraid. Our biggest fear is death.
After the resurrection, the disciples are hiding out in the dark. Mary had told them that Jesus was alive but they didn’t believe her. They probably went around the room: “John, do you believe Mary.”
“How about you Simon?”
“I think she is talking out of her head. No I don’t.”
“No. No. No,” they said. One after another.
They had the doors locked. It was evening. Things are worse in the dark, aren’t they? You hear things at night.
I hear people say that we should live each day as if it were our last. I don’t think so. If I knew that I only had one more day to live, I would spend the entire day giving hugs and crying and playing golf. I can’t do that every day. But we can live every day in the light of our own death. We can live life with the realization that one day will be our last.
But don’t live in fear. Fear dominates our lives like never before. We live in fear of germs we can’t see. Why did you not advise me a few weeks ago to invest in hand sanitizer? Besides hand sanitizer, one of the other symbols of our culture are automatic door locks. The sound of automatic door locks is the sound of fear. Our cars have seatbelts, front air bags and side air bags. They are like rolling marshmallows. We like to feel that we are invincible and in total control.
Fear is a very real feeling. The disciples had it. Mom had it. I’ve got some too.
In that great movie from several years ago, “Steel Magnolias,” there is a wonderful scene. In the midst of the plans for the “wedding of the century” in that small, Louisiana town, the father of the bride is stuck with task of getting vultures out of the trees that cover the family home. If he has his way, those pesky creatures will not be dropping their business on the heads of those well-to-do folk who show up for the wedding reception.
The dad and his buddies did all they could to get the pesky vultures out of the trees. They shot firecrackers and shotgun shells in the attempt to send the birds away. The temporarily frightened feathered friends returned to the trees. I really can’t remember if they ever got them out by wedding time.
Life is like that. Sometimes the vultures are in your head—those negative thoughts, doubts, those fears, and insecurities. Someone called them brain buzzards. And it takes more than some firecrackers or shot gun shells to rid them from your consciousness.
So, take every precaution for the Coronavirus. Be safe. Be smart. Wash your hands and stay in. Trust God. Don’t live in fear. And don’t look up because the buzzards might…..oh well, never mind.