Virus or Revival
I often recall instruction I received as a child, even into my teens and twenties. I had adults in my life giving me advice that I took with varying levels of acceptance. Meaning, the older I got the more I thought I knew and the less likely I became to hear what these wise sages had to offer.
I regret not paying better attention to most of that advice, at least what I remember.
Things like, “With every paycheck, make sure you pay yourself.”
My dad told me over and over again that I should set an amount or a percentage of my paycheck each week to put into a savings account. I did not take that advice right away.
As a matter of fact, the paychecks from my first job (dishwasher at the Sheraton Inn in Terre Haute, Ind.) were largely spent on two things, albums, and cigarettes. Neither of which turned out to be a particularly good investment.
The albums, two completely packed peach crates (close to 500), I left with a girl when I went to basic training at 19 years old. I haven’t seen her (or the albums) since.
The cigarettes did nothing but make me smell funny and were harmful to my health. I quit and have no adverse effects today, thank God!
But neither of those investments are paying dividends for me today. If I had taken Dad’s advice and saved, even 5 percent of my checks I would have had a healthy nest egg a lot sooner.
Jesus said something that I believe parallels this type of behavior very well.
Matthew 7:24“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (NKJV)
Putting money in the bank would have been like building on the rock. What I did was building on sand.
I also found that I developed some practices around my bad habits that I didn’t realize I had. When I bought an album, I became enamored (at least) with the music, the band, the liner notes, and everything I could about each of those categories.
I read magazines, went to concerts, put posters of Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith on my walls. I got to the point that I could tell you (and still can to a large degree) who sang a song, who wrote the song, what album it was on (side and track number), and what year it was released.
This obsession did two primary things. It made me talk about rock and roll music all the time. I got to the point that it was beyond trivial knowledge – the stuff in my head was extreme minutiae.
Besides talking about music all the time, I became compelled to continue to buy albums. I had the best record collection of any of my peers and they came to me for advice on good albums, what’s good for a party, what’s good for a date, what’s good to dance to – from heavy metal to mellow easy listening and everything in between – Clemmy-J (my high school nickname which was eventually shortened to Clem) had the answer.
The satisfaction I received was fleeting. Especially from human interaction. At the end of the day I still didn’t have my own car. My grandpa, whom I lived with, drove me to work or I took the bus or hitchhiked.
I was still the tall string-bean with long wavy hair who was awkward around girls, not terribly athletic (I could swim and roller skate), and with no particular direction for my life. But I could tell you who Russ Kunkel and Richie Furay were!
My point it this. My obsession, preoccupation, compulsion, or whatever you want to call it, with modern music shaped what I said and who I became in the eyes of others (and in my own eyes as well).
My question is, “How did I get there?” The answer to this can also be found in the words of Jesus.
Mark 11:22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (NKJV)
Jesus tells us that what we believe and what we say have a correlation. It seems that it is likely that people more readily talk about what they believe.
I believed for many years that a particular type of music was my escape, my refuge, even my salvation. I could escape the difficulties and drudgeries in the world, I could gain peer acceptance, and I could fill my time with something that wasn’t harming me – all with Rock and Roll.
Looking backward I can see that I talked about music…A LOT! At parties, on the phone, at school, with my friends, and at work. And, as I talked about it, things in my life transformed to accommodate what I was saying.
The acceptance, the popularity, the way to break the ice with girls (Bobby Sherman’s hair was a good opener), all happened because of music. But no one would have known that I had this inside of me had I not talked about it.
I am seeing some similarities in the world today that are a good tie-in.
I realize there are a myriad of different outlooks on the Corona Virus, and I am not going to try to explain them all, nor am I writing a treatise on who is ultimately right or wrong.
But I do see a parallel in what Jesus said in Mark 11:23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. (NKJV)
I realize that the reference to mountain is likely figurative, but literal in the sense that Jesus was in a mountainous region and probably pointing to a specific mountain as He spoke for emphasis.
The mountain is widely understood to be symbolic for the big things in our lives, not that God is incapable of helping us move literal mountains (likely a seldom used skill). The Corona Virus has become a mountain.
A mountain that cost a lot of money. A mountain that has fostered insecurities. A mountain that filled many heads with a large amount of, ultimately, unnecessary, and confusing knowledge.
I’d say the largest portion of society (around the world) are accessing information concerning the pandemic from three or four primary sources of intelligence. Those sources are, the news media, the medical field, political leaders, and, the least reliable – social media.
Compare the Corona Virus to other situations that have taken place in the world. There are reports that influenza is just as devastating. There are also reports that there have been other epidemic/pandemic situations that wreaked more havoc.
I have read and seen what most would call reliable sources diligently and painstakingly present every aspect of every side of these comparisons. To the point that I don’t have a worldly source for information. But I have noticed that there are a lot more people talking about Corona that any of the others, exponentially so.
What if the Christian community on Earth made a concerted effort to begin to talk about the real answer to the Corona Virus, which is God Himself!
What if instead of saying, “Wear you mask,” we said, “Praise the Lord!”?
What if instead of saying, “Wash your hands,” we said, “Read your Bible!”?
What if instead of saying, “Be afraid,” we said, “Fear not!”
The list of Christian replacement phrases goes on and on. If we said what we know to be true in the Bible and there was as much talk about Jesus as there is about the virus, we would have a revival like the world has never seen.
Just like if had spent as much time talking about the Psalms of God (building on rock) as I did about the songs of Jackson Browne (building on sand) my life would have been a lot different a lot sooner than it eventually became.
So, instead of pouting the latest updates from the CDC, why not say what the Bible says, “By His stripes we were healed,” (I Peter 2:24), or “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13), and top it off with, “No evil thing shall befall me, nor come near my dwelling place,” (Psalm 91:10).