Since we are not allowed to go anywhere for fun upon pain of being confronted by zealous inquisitors, and since the thought of an inquisition evokes the country of Spain, I’m reminded of this past week in Lock-down, day #40-something:
I had gathered some clips from the internet of people having recorded their tour of various places: Central Park, the Eiffel tower, the Bronx Zoo, Madame Tussauds in London. We did in a mini world tour over the weekend, transported thousands of miles by the wonders of television.
I saw the inside of the Vatican for the first time, and sat back to watch some Kiwi take the audience on a tour of Madrid. The tour of Madrid was actually the most interesting part of our travels. Old architecture, Moorish battles, Christian castles, restaurants that are hundreds of years old, authors being beheaded, and a visit to the presumed last resting place of Miguel de Cervantes. Presumed, because as the Kiwi guide mentioned many times, ‘we lose bodies in Madrid’.
I’d never read Cervantes’ most famous work: ‘Don Qixote de la Mancha’. According to a summary I read online, Don Qixote reads a surfeit of romantic books and gets the incredibly idealistic notion that he is a knight involved in a great quest.
The novel could have been called The Great Pretender. Except that the conceit is precisely that Don Qixote actually believes that he is a knight. His knightly exploits result in essentially nothing. The world isn’t changed, people aren’t rescued from situations, real or imagined. And Don Qixote is the recipient of regular beating as a result of sticking his nose in other peoples’ business.
In this lockdown, I have been far from my best. I imagine most of us are extremely uncomfortable. As my formative study years were involved with the idea that the press is the 4th estate, holding those in political power to account, I cannot help but enter the fray, with a few ideas and comments to counteract the banality of those who accept things as the way they are because they cannot be changed.
Like a pathetic Don Qixote, my knightly forays into social media and the Twitterverse stand at odds with the world the way it is, unmoved by my mountain of words. I have this idealistic notion that whether my words change a single thing or not, some things need to be said.
For the record.
My devotions have been infrequent. Prayer, which Scripture says changes things far more effectively than my words, has been a stranger to my cracked lips. Dry and underutilized in supplication.
I have not looked to Him to establish the proper order on His earth and hold the powerfully corrupt to account. He moves slower than I would like.
And then I hear the news that the famous apologist Ravi Zacharias has succumbed to cancer. Snapped back to reality. I have not seen His hand for many days in this place. And then I see His hand in the life of Ravi.
I think of Moses with the flocks of Jethro that he led at the foot of Horeb, doing his regular work as a shepherd:
Doing his thing, tending to the sheep of his father-in-law, probably taking them on a grazing circuit that was quite familiar, to the mountain and back, maybe in a loop, maybe in a figure-8 if the mood struck him.
In open terrain, flame is very apparent, so Moses investigated, and found that the signs of fire were there but the bush was not being consumed. The Lord got Moses’ attention:
4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3, NIV)
In this desert of a lockdown, personally and constitutionally grieved at the God-given natural law that is being curtailed by temporal authorities, I looked at the life of Ravi, and the passing of Ravi, and I approached and found that God is even there in the place I was looking.
Since Ravi’s passing, a lot of troubling things have come to light:
Ravi seems not to have been the man we all thought he was, a public persona, reportedly a private sin. Do I still see the hand of God in Ravi’s life and passing? Ultimately, yes.
A warning that sin is never to be taken lightly. A reminder of the necessity of the cross, and of our denying ourselves and taking it up.
The lockdown is still with us in a lesser form. But more so, God is still with His children.