|Lorilyn and daughter Joy Easter 2020|
The closest semblance to this Easter is when I celebrated Shabbat in Israel in January 1991. That was a few days before the U.S. launched Operation Desert Storm. In stark contrast to the United States, Israel shuts everything down for the Sabbath. Restaurants, shops, and even grocery stores are closed, and there are very few cars on the road.
Only since I finished my cancer treatment have I come to appreciate how important a day of rest is. I no longer work seven days a week, and even today, I caught myself picking up sticks in the yard and moving a few rocks. God calls that work—and in the Old Testament, God struck down a man for gathering sticks on the Shabbat (Numbers 15:32-36). I stopped when God brought to mind I wasn’t resting from labor like He wanted me to.
We all struggle with different things, and for me, I tend not to know when to relax. So I appreciated this special Easter when I didn’t hear cars zooming by, lawn mowers blaring, or sirens screaming. The neighborhood was quiet, and there were cars in driveways because people were home. Some walked their dogs, and I’m sure many, as I did, spent quality time with their family instead of the frenzied pace that marks the way of life for most Americans.
I put on my favorite Christian movie, The Gospel of John, from 2003, which is a word-for-word rendition of the fourth Gospel in the New Testament. Every time I watch the reenactment, I come away with a new insight or something God shows me that I hadn’t seen before. This time it was from John 9:4 (KJV): Jesus said, “I must do the works of him that sent me while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work.”
|Disney World Parade|
That verse struck me because so many people can’t work during the coronavirus pandemic. Schools are closed. Restaurants are shut. All nonessential services are under lock and key, like dry cleaners, barbers, and clothing shops. Sports and entertainment have ceased. National parks and beaches are deserted, and theme parks, like DisneyWorld, are closed. Even places of worship are not allowed to meet in many cities, including my own.
To make a point, although it’s not my main point, but it is worth mentioning because it has never happened in our democracy, it’s like we are living in a socialist country. Our government, at the national, state, and municipal level, are determining what is essential and what isn’t. If you disobey the local authorities, you risk huge fines or worse.
And dare I even mention the shortages of certain items, like paper towels, toilet paper, and hand disinfectant. Could we have imagined anything like that happening in America? How many times have scoffers laughed at the preppers? But here we are, with millions of people unemployed, airports shut down, and our capitalist system in peril—all because of an invisible enemy we can’t see.
I’ve captioned this last month dozens of breaking news reports and updates at all levels of government, including Trump’s first major announcement concerning the coronavirus on Fox News. This is the world we live in right now, but it hits closer to home when your loved one or a dear friend is affected.
One of my friends has metastatic lung cancer. Her condition has deteriorated during the CV pandemic, and strict rules are in effect in Gainesville, Florida, regarding healthcare.
My good friend had a brain MRI set up to diagnose the progressing paralysis on her left side. She went for her appointment on a hot day in a hot car. When they took her temperature, it was 1/10 of a degree higher than the acceptable range for incoming patients. They sent her home under the pretense she might have coronavirus.
When she told me this, sorrow filled my heart. Our healthcare has been triaged so that those who are most in need of care might get passed over. With only a hundred cases of coronavirus in Alachua County and a vast medical complex that services the entire Southeast, my friend was sent home for fear of a virus that’s barely touched Alachua County. The authorities deemed the threat of coronavirus more concerning to the public than her precarious health condition requiring immediate care.
I asked her, “Do those people have a brain?” Of course, they have a brain, but her desperate situation was not considered urgent. That’s socialized medicine.
But really, that’s not the point of why I’m writing this piece. The coronavirus has brought darkness over our country. People are afraid. Doctors and nurses must abide by a set of rules put in place by the government. The government is telling healthcare workers to triage patients and sending some home. Whoever could have imagined that a patient would be sent home because of a mild fever when she came in for an MRI appointment related to battling stage IV lung cancer? And I don’t need to ask, whoever thought a day would come when people wouldn’t be allowed to work?
As Jesus said over two thousand years ago, “…the night cometh, when no man can work.”
Often prophecies are cyclical. The stage has been set for additional fulfillment of this prophecy. We are seeing the “birth pangs” that Jesus spoke of in the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24-25. Jesus also specifically referred to pestilences in Luke 21:10-11 (American KJV): ”Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: And great earthquakes shall be in divers’ places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.”
Notice what Jesus said, following pestilences are “fearful sights and great signs…from heaven.” Nobody that I’ve heard has suggested this might be referring to the rapture. When Jesus was taken into heaven, his disciples stood by and watched him disappear into the clouds. Imagine what a fearful sight that would be and a great sign from heaven. The fact that it directly follows “pestilences” in Jesus’ chronicle of events is worth noting. Could the rapture be sooner than any of us have anticipated?
The coronavirus has been a pestilence and fearful sight. One only has to look at news from around the world to see how much fear it has evoked. One only needs to go on YouTube to see mass graves dug in other parts of the world, even in New York City. The lack of ventilators has created widespread fear. Seeing people wearing face masks has been shocking, while thousands are huddled in their homes to escape an invisible enemy for which there is no vaccine or cure. What could be more frightening?
As I focused on Jesus’ words, “I must do the works of him that sent me while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work,” the Holy Spirit spoke to me about darkness.
Last summer, My daughters and I went on a week-long cruise in the Western Caribbean. One of the places we took a shore excursion to was the Rio Secreto in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. At sixty-three years of age, I have to admit, the trek through the caverns of the underground river was challenging. My daughters handled it with ease, but I had to watch my steps using the makeshift cane they gave us. I was glad I wore a helmet in case I fell.
I thought it would be like a stroll in the park. It wasn’t. However, I’m glad I went. After a brief walk through a spectacular rain forest, we came to the entrance of the underground river. We entered the cold water with great caution.
After about forty-minutes of climbing over rocks and through fissures in the cave system, we came to a beautiful underground lake. The only light was from our helmet lights and flashlights. I still find it hard to believe that the Rio Secreto existed in total darkness for thousands of years before it was discovered in the early 2000s by cave explorers.
Then the guide told us to do something unusual. He asked us to turn off the headlamps and flashlights and to lie down in the water on our backs. When everyone had complied, we created a circular formation joining hands with the person next to us on both sides. The idea was for us to be at one with nature. The guide took a photo of us in the dark with only his flashlight on for dramatic effect.
Being one with nature was not what I experienced. I had left my glasses behind in a locker in case I fell. I didn’t want to lose the only ones I brought on the cruise. That was probably a mistake as I could have seen better with my glasses.
As I lay on my back with the water lapping gently underneath me, staring up at the darkness, I grew nauseated. I tried closing my eyes, but that didn’t help.
After what seemed like an eon of time, unbeknownst to me, the lights came back on. I had shut my eyes to shut out the darkness, and when I opened them, I saw several hikers were already standing, and the cave was more lit than dark. I thought my nausea would quickly dissipate when I had light again, but it didn’t.
Even when we exited the cave, in natural sunlight, my nausea continued. It lasted for an hour or more before finally going away.
I wondered for months why I got so dizzy and nauseous. Then someone pointed out to me, “It was because you had no sense of spatial awareness.” In everyday language, I didn't have a plumb line. In complete darkness, I had no frame of reference, and it made me disoriented and nauseous.
When I think about that experience, more than just the darkness bothered me. I had no sense of anything—up, down, left, right, what was near me, what was far away. Nothing. God did not create us to live in darkness. He is a God of light. Indeed, He is the light. He is our plumb line. When we are in darkness, we are blinded by darkness because we can’t see anything, and that makes us sick.
Matthew 24:22 (NIV) states: “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened.” Could Jesus be referring here to another darkness that is coming, once again when people won’t be able to work? Or could He be referring to the darkness we are experiencing now? Certainly, the CV pandemic has put us in darkness, darkness about the future and darkness sharing the Gospel.
This may be prescient of a future longer-lasting darkness where no one will be able to share the Good News of salvation or be about the Lord’s business. It’s easy to miss the flip side of Jesus’ words. If the days are shortened, that means the nights are longer—more darkness.
To quote John 9:4 again, Jesus said, “I must do the works of him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work.”
I have no doubt the day is coming when we won't be able to witness, when we aren't able to share our faith or do the works of the Lord. The world will be in darkness, without God's light, because people will be blind, enveloped in the darkness of the prince of darkness that is soon coming.
God keeps bringing to my mind the word “occupy.” We don’t know how much time we have before the Lord’s return, but we are to occupy and be busy doing the Lord’s work until we aren’t able, just as Jesus said.
As an aside, and this is just a personal observation, the rapture could occur several years before the seven-year tribulation starts. As the Bible states, it will come at a time when it is not expected. Matthew 24:44 (NIV) says, “So you also must be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
In the meantime, Christian writers need to be proclaiming salvation in their books. Speakers need to be sharing the Gospel from their platforms. Bloggers need to be writing blog posts about the Lord’s return, and Christian media producers need to be uploading Christian videos to YouTube while they still can.
Censoring is happening even as I write this post. Christian materials are being removed from social platforms at an alarming rate. Even on Facebook and Twitter, Christians are being silenced.
Strangely, we can’t share the Gospel with our neighbors right now. We aren’t even supposed to enter their houses. It’s not just in America. Half of the world has been enveloped in this pandemic, and millions are holed up in their homes.
If you have not accepted Yeshua (Jesus Christ) as your Savior, today is the day of salvation. When night comes, it may be too late. You may not be able to get on the Internet. You may not be able to work. You might not even have food to eat. John 3:16 states (KJV): “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
At Christmas, just four months ago, no one could have imagined we would be engulfed in a global pandemic. I knew about the coronavirus in Wuhan from captioning RT News (American media did a poor job of covering it), but I never in my wildest dreams imagined that it would grip the whole world as it has.
Most of my broadcast captioning is sports-related, so my income has been affected. I wait for the pandemic to end, but I don't wait in vain. I expectantly wait for God to bring good out of all of this, and I pray that God will heal our nation, bring revival, and turn many to the Lord.
Please join me in praying for those in authority over us, for those healthcare workers on the frontline battling this pandemic, and for wisdom for our leaders—not a socialist one-shoe-fits-all kind of wisdom, but the wisdom that comes from God.
Out of the darkness, God shines His light, giving us hope and guidance. We can become, once again, one nation under God. May God be glorified as we seek to be His servants in these last days until He calls us home. Let us work while we can before total darkness comes and the light of Jesus is extinguished. As long as God keeps us here, we are that light unto salvation.