As I was thinking about this COVID-19 situation, a scene came to me. I pictured all of us getting rounded up and taken aboard a big pirate-looking ship. It was one of those old wooden sailing ships with ratlines leading up to the crow’s nest and topsails tied up over the crosstrees as you looked at the masthead. There was no flag nor any name on its stern and it creaked and swayed as we were led coercively over the gangplank.
Amidships many walked aboard with hands tied behind their backs and heads hung low in sorrow and disbelief. “How could this have happened?” I heard one say. “When is God going to help us?” they sighed. I pitied these saints as they slumped onto the ship and resignedly went below deck. Slaves, I thought. Just like slaves — crammed together in the belly of the ship to sweat and surrender to a new life of fear and hopelessness. A look of great loss and tears appeared on their faces as the line slowly drudged on.
Towards the bow of ship there was another line of people coming aboard on a different gangway. The wind was gently blowing as the vessel rocked against its berth, but these people didn’t have their hands tied behind them. In fact, they had their heads up, were smiling and pointing admiringly at the beauty of the ship as they came aboard. This group didn’t go below; they filed along the side decks and onto the cabin. Sitting topsides, many were enjoying the fresh air and fellowshipping with one another about the goodness of God.
Eventually the dock lines were dropped and the ship headed for sea — the vast unknown. No one seemed to have any idea of where we were going. All that was apparent was that we were being shipped out to sea against our will.
Those below deck wallowed in their misery. Some wanted to curse God and die. Those up on deck chose to help in the work, even assisting in hoisting the sails and pulling ropes to trim them. The wind was blowing hard now and the uncharted seas were becoming rough.
So God now turns to me and asks, “To which people group do you belong to?” Am I stuck below in the strange shadows and darkness of despair, or am I topsides looking towards an unknown horizon and future with hope and expectation?
For both groups it’s going to be a journey — a voyage with some storms to go through and no timeframe to gauge it. How are we choosing to embrace this passage?
I believe it is a choice.