Today is an ordinary day, which is no surprise as these are ordinary times. Or I want to think they are, anyway. Oh sure, there has been a recent rumor or two lately, a rumbling of something ominous to come – always just out of sight, hovering in the background – unseen but still felt, although vaguely – more tenuous than tangible. I think this feeling used to be called “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
Now this implies that one shoe has already dropped, and this is true. I remember clearly that day in mid-March 2020 when the first shoe fell. It fell with a thud and stopped us in our tracks. It too, was an ordinary day until the shoe fell and schools closed along with restaurants, gyms, businesses, churches, sporting events, concerts etc. The world shut down except for really big stores like Walmart and liquor stores. (I guess the virus could only spread in smaller grocery stores and didn’t even enter liquor stores at all)
Today, two and a half years later, as I look around the classroom, there is no reminder here of what we have so recently come through, save the occasional student wearing a mask, usually slipped down around their chin – a last visual vestige of the trauma that was thrust upon us all so suddenly and so completely that we could not catch our breath. (or was that because we were wearing masks?) Yes, they masked us, ensuring we could not breathe nor speak freely. The masks became silence’s symbol and fear’s announcement simultaneously, proclaiming – “be quiet and be afraid.” “Do not question the dictates, the science is settled!” we were told repeatedly.
No eating out – but those that issued the edicts did. No haircuts – but those that made this rule did. Don’t gather in large groups or even groups over ten – so no weddings, funerals, birthday parties – but our cities’ streets were full of groups over ten for months on end. We watched from our windows as we were told not to leave home. We were left to wait and to wonder – wonder “what comes next?” When can I go back to work? When can I go to the gym or church or eat out? When can I visit my family members and friends? When can I celebrate a birthday or a holiday with those I love? What started out as two weeks to stop the spread stretched into two years of various restrictions and predictions.
Though most restrictions have lifted or eased, predictions continue to abound. There are wars and rumors of wars. There are shortages and rumors of shortages to come. Climate change (formerly called “weather”) was supposed to have ended life on earth decades ago. We are still waiting for that shoe to drop, as it were, living under a constant heavy cloud (of CO2?) of daily dire predictions and ominous warnings. We are told to be vigilant for the next virus and to plan for the next pandemic. I’m not sure living always waiting for the other shoe to drop, always expecting something bad to happen, is the best way to live. I know that’s not how I want to live this life I’ve been gifted.
The good news is, I don’t have to live life waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don’t have to shut the door, pull down the shades, huddle under the covers, and let the TV news be my link to the outside world and my connection to others, albeit a virtual connection, not a real one. You and I were created to live a life of freedom and that includes freedom from fear. Consider what 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us –
“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”
We may be living in dark times, but we don’t have to walk in darkness. We have Someone to light our way.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Those words encourage me when darkness seems to be ever increasing. I can know that Jesus’s presence is the light that extinguishes any and all darkness. My journey has felt pretty perilous these past couple of years. Globally and nationally, we were being told we were in a pandemic of death. On every TV news channel, a live “death count” ran at the bottom of the screen, continuously inching upward, always running, lest we forget to be afraid and leave our homes. We all must have felt collectively that we were in the proverbial “valley of the shadow of death” – a place to be greatly feared, right? Well, not according to King David who wrote this in Psalm 23 –
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:4-6)
There is a better way to live, a better way to walk in this world – fearless and free – free of fear, free to live the life my Heavenly Father is calling me to live for Him. Even though I have to walk through dark valleys, I don’t have to be afraid because God is present with me and has promised –
” ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
Because of my Heavenly Father’s presence walking beside me, I don’t have to fear the evil that surrounds me as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. His presence comforts me, allowing me to continue. I also receive His provision during my time in this dark, uncertain valley of death. In fact, my cup overflows! That’s what the Psalm says. That’s His promise. He prepares a feast for me right in the middle of the valley and anoints my head, marking me as His own. I have His assurance that He will never leave me and that I will live in His house, with Him forever.
Knowing all this means I do not need to spend my days living in fear, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I can live with joy, confidence and hope because my Heavenly Father is Sovereign over the affairs of men. Jesus reminded His disciples of this when He told them,
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
No matter when the other shoe drops, no matter how many more shoes drop – I can say with confidence
“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)
You and I, dear readers, can walk through this present day valley of the shadow of death without fear, experiencing God’s comfort, protection and provision as we walk through these days with hope and courage, knowing we do not walk through the valley alone.
sincerely, Grace Day