The COVID epidemic has been pretty scary.
In a way I wasn't so much scared of the illness; I was scared of the uncertainty.
There is a silliness about being scared of unknowns. The silly part of being scared of unknowns is that everything ahead of us is unknown. Our next breath is unknown; our next heartbeat is unknown. Tomorrow is unknown. Everything about tomorrow is unknown.
And although I act as if I am comfortable with an unknown tomorrow, if I am honest, what I am comfortable with is the also silly idea that my predictions about tomorrow are somehow certain. Silly me; I live with an expectation that tomorrow will arrive like today did, with a comfortable degree of predictability. That expectation is merely presumptuous. It isn't really rational, it isn't really biblical, and it isn't really faithful.
So, what is going on in my thinking?
It is understandable that I could become immune to good sense about our unknowable tomorrows when tomorrow's uncertainties have so often been gentle and convenient. The uncertainties of tomorrow have seemed predictable. Then suddenly, the drastic unpredictability of Coronavirus confronted the rather bad flaw in my worldview. Coronavirus showed me that I had more faith in my guessed future than in God the Father.
Having more faith in the future than in the Father is a worldly worldview, and that's not good.
So, being startled by Coronavirus has turned out to have been rather good for me. It was 'good' just as many unpleasant, undesirable things can be good. There was a disagreeable wholesomeness about the way Coronavirus suddenly gave me a swift scare.
The thing that the pandemic shook apart was my assumptions. I had been living very comfortably with incorrect, irrational assumptions. These wrong assumptions falsely told me that all would be as I expected it to be. Perhaps you were the same; perhaps your assumptions comfortably predicted a comfortable future. These assumptions said tomorrow would arrive and look very much like today.
The regularity of life's routines can do this to us. Because each day, each week, each year is rather routine, we can easily trust the mistaken assumption that tomorrow is somehow knowable. Whereas really, our unknowable tomorrow is in God's hands.
Being a parent of school children in school settings contributes to this too. You see, school routines are very routine. The steady sway, the repetitive routines of school schedules feels predictable. The self-same routines that we find reassuring can lead us into a complacent misassumption.
Complacency comes not at first, but over years. When our children first start school, we're not complacent. New-to-school mums and dads are edgy, excited, alert, nervous. But over steady, predictable years, complacency settles in. The rhythm of school rituals can restfully rock us to sleep.
Parents know that every school-day morning has its regularity: washing, dressing, seeking socks, finding the lost shoe, or not finding the lost shoe and writing the lost-shoe-runners-today diary note, making lunches, bolting breakfast, scrambling eggs and scrambling for schoolbags, running back to fetch homework from the dining table, and "l didn't brush my teeth. Too late, we're on the road and driving, "l said I didn't brush my teeth!"
Too late, we're in the carpark crush, half-hugs and hasty kisses, then the kids are out of the car and PEACE! Until home-time that is.
Over years, this repeated regularity can lure us into wrongly assuming that we are the authors of our lives. Little by little, we can let go of God as holder of our future, and little by little let ourselves pretend that we hold our own future; which is ridiculous when we think about it. Whether or not we pretend He isn't, God in fact is the author and finisher of our lives.
Coronavirus challenged me to admit that I had more faith in a falsely forecasted future than I had in the Creator of the future Himself. Losing hold on what I had wrongly assumed was known, being confronted with the truth that had been there all along had I been open to it, made me mighty uncomfortable. But the Lord offers a different comfort, not quite as 'comforting' as knowing the future. Instead, He offers the comfort of holding our hand as we walk into tomorrow's unknowable future.
So, from now I want to see afresh with redeemed eyes the Lord's gift of each unknown tomorrow. I want to trust in Him and rest in that trust.
I want never again to take things for granted: any things. I want never to forget that every day is itself a good, God-given gift. Let's trust God’s promised presence rather than our presupposed predictions. Let's live and pray every God-given day as our last chance to spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let's joyously revel in every day that our families are granted to live and learn in partnership with schools where Christ is King and living and learning are shared worship.
David is a husband, a dad, and a grandpa. He and his wife Jenny have two daughters and two granddaughters. Dave and Jenny's children went through Christian schooling, and sometimes their dad was their teacher! Dave has been involved in Christian schooling for over thirty years and still works in Christian education at Melton Christian College.