Two men walked towards Bob Ireland and me in a menacing manner. There was no doubt; we were about to get robbed, mugged or probably both. We were in downtown Baltimore, not the safest place in the world, as Bob was getting money from an ATM machine. I began wondering whether we should fight these two men, who looked to be in their mid-thirties. In my fifties, was I in good enough condition to put up a struggle for us to survive this oncoming incident? Moments earlier, we had dropped off our wives at the front door of the restaurant and we went to park the car and get some cash. How quickly an evening can change.
I do not know what happened but suddenly, a Baltimore Police Officer was at the ATM machine getting cash. Where did he come from? Was he an angel dressed as a Baltimore Police officer? I don’t know. The menacing men gave us a smirk as they veered away and proceeded down the sidewalk in search of another victim. It was a close call. Bob and I breathed a sigh of relief and went on to have a great meal together with our wives.
As I write this, our nation and world are dealing with the Corona Virus. Our church is holding worship services online and that is how our small groups are meeting. This morning I attended a small group of men, most of which are leaders in our community, via Zoom. There were seven men present and I was by far the oldest, and mistakenly some assumed, the wisest. Near the end of our call, David, the leader of the group, asked me to comment on the crisis as I have seen several crises in the past (a really nice way of saying “since you are older than dirt this virus must be as easy as the civil war and other things you have dealt with.”)
As part of my answer, I related my Baltimore experience. The critical point of that experience was me asking myself the question as to whether I was in good enough condition. When the crisis is upon you, it is a little late to start getting prepared. I was not going to be able to jam in 52 weeks of gym dedication in 30 seconds. The 52 weeks is supposed to prepare me for the 30 second incident.
Fear is the leader’s worst enemy during times of crisis for several reasons:
- Fear breeds more fear.
- Fear clouds our judgement
- Fear redirects our energy.
Our pastor at Church of the Highlands, Chris Hodges, has spent a good amount of time with his congregation discussing how to convert fear into faith. He is not the first I have heard address the relationship between fear and faith – they are opposites.
The way one makes the conversion is to pray more, and to study God’s Word more – read your Bible. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church one time said something to the effect of, “I have so much to do that I need to pray more.” That did not make any sense to me – if you have so much to do then why would you spend more time (that you could be using to get stuff done) in prayer? I now understand. It works.
So, recently I have upped my game on reading scriptures and devotionals. This morning, one really hit home. The scripture lesson was from Luke 4:6-8; “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me.” Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, “You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”
The title of today’s devotional is “Are You Prepared for Trials?” Wow, how appropriate. The devotional pointed out that Jesus was prepared and ready to answer Satan with scriptures that had become a vital part of his life. Here is a quote that I modified some, which finishes off the devotional: “The slow work of transformation may be difficult to observe on a day-to-day basis. There may not be too many dramatic moments of deliverance or manifestations of God’s presence. However, it will have a payoff one day. The time you spend before God in preparation will help you when trouble comes. And it will come.” This devotional is “Daily Wisdom For Men, The Power of Godly Transformation 2020 Collection”
Carve out some time each day where you are alone and can work on growing your inner self. Feel free to contact Chesapeake or me personally (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want some suggestions.