When my son died 15 years ago, I became obsessed with all things Heaven and prophecy. Where was he and when would I be with him again? When was this fallen, hurtful, nothing makes sense of a world going to end and we can all be together again? I read the whole Left Behind series in a very short amount of time. I convinced myself I was the real-life version of Chloe Williams–except for the whole beheading part– and with every crisis and world event I knew this was it. End of the world finally thank you Jesus! Is that You coming in on that cloud? Don’t judge. You have no idea what the mind is capable of in the middle of grief. Thankfully I was wrong every time because life since then has been a very colorful, loud, beautiful ride I would have missed. But ya’ll…..look around. What is going on?
When schools got cancelled on Friday afternoon—for one month no less—we all let out a collective huhhhh???? I thought many of the same things my like-minded, same side of the aisle counterparts have thought. It’s political. Election 101: Never waste a good crisis. It’s a conspiracy. Overkill. Hype. Now we’ve got restaurants and bars closed, nail salons, health clubs, dentist offices. My hairdresser is still open though. Thank goodness because I ain’t walking into the apocalypse with gray roots. But when they closed the churches I knew. The devil is living his best life right now.
No one knows which end is up. We don’t know who to believe. We are home bound, home schooling and sick of home. The stock market is crashing. Then it’s whimpering with life. Then it’s crashing. The price of oil is scary. The shelves are empty. Well some of the shelves. There is no toilet paper. But still plenty of liquor. That one I don’t understand. Priorities people, priorities. Regardless of what or who we do believe, none of this is believable. Chaos, disbelief, paranoia, fear and anxiety are the Enemy’s playground.
And all the while I’m trying to get my bearings here on how I’m going to play teacher (no doubt old school style carry the one, borrow from your neighbor, “i” before “e”) while folding laundry and sewing panels, and my husband is Skyping customers….my oldest is a high school senior. And that’s what gives me pause. First grade won’t look much different from second grade and fourth grade won’t look much different from third next year. But you only get one senior year. And all of her classmates who have worked so hard (or not) to get to this point, the lasts, the onlys and the once in a lifetimes are within their grasp yet held just out of their reach. We don’t know what we don’t know but we do know what we’re fearing. So how do I advise her? How do we as parents prepare and console our kids for what might not come? Many, my own included, have played their last match, game or practice, attended their last school dance and their last retreat. Never knowing any of them were the last. So what do we do? What do tell them when we’re all thinking the same thing?
This sucks. It sucks beyond sucking. It sucks sucks sucks sucks suuuuuuucks. Yeah I know sucks is a “bad” word. But when faced with the apocalypse, etiquette be damned. It just sucks. Now what?
God keeps placing Esther in my mind. He keeps placing the passage “…for such a time as this” in front of me. Spiritually throughout each day and quite literally on the notepad page of the day. So why is Esther important? She was a Jewish woman, raised by her cousin, living in Persia who was taken along with about 1000 other women to live in the king’s harem. But because there was something super special about Esther the king chose her to be queen…not knowing she was Jewish. The Jewish people were hated and doomed for genocide, at the hands of the Persian Empire. The very empire Esther was queen to. What should she do? She fasted, she prayed, and she remained obedient. And then she stepped out in courage and asked the King to spare her people, the Jews, and so he did. Any other hottie chosen from that harem would not have fulfilled God’s plan to save the Jews. It had to be Esther. Which meant Esther had to be born when she did, raised the way she was and a looker like none other in order to be in the right place at the right time.
So what is this time that we find ourselves in? I’ve seen the Facebook meme floating around that this class of 2020 was born into the world during 9/11. No other time in my 43 years of life have I seen and felt anything similar to the world today than after September 11, 2001. Twenty-seven days after that day my first born popped out (well I wouldn’t say popped but I digress). The days, months and years that followed shaped how we raised this class of kids. And now at the first crossroads of their young lives they are faced with disappointments that others who have been or will become their age won’t face. It’s not an accident. So why are they chosen “for a time such as this?” I can’t speak for the rest of the 2020 graduates, but I know that my daughter’s class of 175 is a praying class. I know that they are a class that steps up and steps out. I know that two days into their freshman year our state flooded like never before and they stepped up and stepped out into the homes of strangers and gutted sheetrock and pulled up carpet for days on end. I don’t know if you guys will walk across the stage, give the speeches, and throw the caps. I don’t know if my dancer will get to take her final bow, after 16 years of dedication to dance. I don’t know if we’ll all be laughing about these weeks from the beaches of the Bahamas at the end of May. But I know you guys were chosen “for a time such as this.” What will you do with it?
What about the rest of us? The college freshmen who left their dorms to never return. The aging in the nursing homes without visitors. The weddings being postponed. The girls’ trips being cancelled (I mean…. a moment of silence please). Why are we here in such an unprecedented time in our nation’s history? Why is it that our lifetimes were chosen “for such a time as this?”
Again, I don’t freaking know. But what I do know is the devil is living his best life. He’s got the economy on the brink. He’s coating the world in chaos. He’s emptied the churches. The holiest week of the year, Holy Week, the churches will be empty.
What will be our response? We’re stuck at home. With our families. Our schedules have come to a screeching halt. For the vast majority of us, the world has stopped. We are forced to be still. How we fill our time during this time will define our response. Facebook and our inboxes are flooded with novenas and prayer after prayer. The list of things that never get done because there is never enough time has suddenly found ample time. Dinner tables, board games, unread books and unhad conversations are ready.
You know those few minutes on Christmas morning when all of the gifts are open and the stockings are emptied and it’s quiet because the kids are tinkering with their loot? And you just relish it with your cup of coffee in hand before you have to start preparing for the day ahead. Those few moments of still. Or when you’re on the beach–that hour or so when the sun has dipped just enough to cool things off before nightfall hits. Those few moments of still. Or when you wake up way before the kids to say your prayers, make your lists, fold a batch of laundry before the chaos of the morning hits. Those few moments of still.
What will we do with our few moments of still? The devil thinks he’s got us right where he wants us—out of church. But the churches aren’t closed, just the buildings are. We were placed here “for such a time as this” so what will we do? The devil is like the Grinch when he’s got that full sleigh after stealing all of the trees and gifts in town. He’s stroking his beard laughing muwhahahah at his accomplishment. But how do the residents of Whoville respond? They hold hands and sing…unbroken, undivided. The country has been brought to its knees whether we like it or not. So while we’re down there, let’s pray. Let’s pray like our world depends on it. Because doesn’t it? How the world responds to this will determine how God responds to it. 2 Chronicles tell us that if we call on the name of God and humble ourselves and pray, He will heal our land. In Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus calmed the storms. In these moments of still, let’s pray. Let’s let the devil find us singing together (six feet apart) and let him see THAT as his accomplishment. Esther fasted, prayed and was obedient. What else have we got to do but fast, pray and be obedient? And when the Newer Testament is written, they’ll be writing about us and our stories. Remember it’s Kelly with a “y” not an “ie”.
To my first girl: You have had more disappointment in your 18 years than some 80-year olds. When you were three years old you learned that life isn’t fair. But with every other thing you were told no or not yet, every time you were put in the back row or sat the proverbial bench, you’ve handled it with way more grace than one should have to. So whatever the next two months hold, you will rise. If it sucks, say it sucks. And let it suck for minute. And then rise. Because one day they’ll be writing about you.
So be safe everybody. Wash your hands, stop buying all the toilet paper and stay home. Fast, pray, be obedient. I mean it’s not like I’m scared or anything. COVID19 is not what is taking me out I can tell you that. Now homeschooling my children….that might do it. But I’ll go down in blaze of glory with a rosary in one hand and a can of icing and bottle of tequila in the other.