It looks like a set from an apocalyptic movie, the view down our street any direction you look. No one is outside. Very few cars go by. Parents aren’t lined up bumper-to-bumper waiting for school to let out. It’s spooky. It’s weird in a weird kind of way like I’ve never known weird to be.
The weirdest part of it all is all this void of humanity is caused by an invisible, microscopic virus. It’s mind-boggling how that invisible enemy is collapsing economies around the world, and there is no one with enough power to stop it. This voracious and lethal thing is no respecter of persons. All we can do is endure it until it passes.
Personally, other than worrying for my wife, a NICU nurse still working full shifts, I’ve discovered something I’ll never forget until the day I die—how much of our lives depends on our ability to be with each other.
Missing what I need
I miss my friends. I miss total strangers. I miss people.
Until now, I’ve never fully appreciated how much our lives depend on people being able to be with people.
Upon the introduction of humanity into creation, God said, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18).
God made us for relationships, period. We were not created to live in self-imposed quarantine forever. God will see to it that the creation God made is not at the mercy of a virus.
I discovered this the other day when I finally admitted something to myself. I need people, period.
Receiving more of what I need
On the bright side, Nancy and I have spent more quality time together than we have in too long. Her schedule is so complicated, there is no such thing as a normal routine anymore. Except for now. She and I have talked more, laughed more, prayed more together than we have in way too long.
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The disconnect kind of snuck up on us. Our love for each other, like all love, is an invisible mercy with which God has infected our souls. Like the wind, we can’t see love, only the effect of it in all of our lives and relationships.
The coronavirus has used its invisibility to invade at least 1 million people worldwide, canceling out almost 53,000 lives.
It also is true the loving purpose of God, the mercy of God, though invisible, is at work, too. As Joel Gregory said, reflecting on God’s merciful redemption in his own life, despite what may appear to be otherwise, God is “intentionally and invisibly” at work in our lives.
The creative and redemptive will of God, in time, will be done. The invisible virus will answer to the invisible virus of mercy, which also is at work within us.
Our world, our nation, is changing before our very eyes. We never will be the same again, hopefully, in more good ways than bad ways.
What is not changing is eternal mercy at work in us before we even drew our first breath. Mercy still, invisibly and intentionally, is at work right now and forever.
Mercy in a dog
The night before last, Nancy was at work, and it was the dogs and me. Hank always gets in bed with us. Our nightly routine includes what I’ve come to call the “crawl.” I give Hank little bits of a treat, with each one closer and closer to me. With just a few bits, I get him to crawl closer before I turn out the light and put my hand on his fury head because it calms me. Who doesn’t need some extra calming these days?
Many times, I’ve reflected to my best friend forever, Nancy, how I stand in awe of all of God’s creation, especially my pups. When I look deeply into Hank’s and Rudy’s eyes, I see the presence of God.
God created Hank and Rudy just as I have been created by eternal mercy. In their eyes, I see the invisible and merciful creation of God. In their eyes, I’m reminded of the presence of God. You must be a dog lover to appreciate that thought. I stand by it.
Richard Rohr, in the introduction to The Universal Christ, dedicates the book to his 15-year-old black Lab, Venus, whom he “had to release to God” while beginning the book. Rohr wrote, “Without any apology, lightweight theology, or fear of heresy, I can appropriately say that Venus was also Christ for me.” I get that.
I videoed the “crawl” the other night. The God who mercifully created Hank, a dear and good friend, did so solely for the purpose of calmly reminding me of the invisible and intentional mercy of God.
God’s invisible will is being done and will be done, virus or not.
Glen Schmucker is a writer and blogger in Fort Worth. He served over 40 years in pastoral ministry in Texas and Arkansas—now occasionally providing pulpit supply—and for several years as a hospice and pediatric chaplain. The views expressed are those solely of the author. This article is adapted from its original.