The gate was just to keep people who lived farther up the mountain from using our road. It was nothing but a single metal bar, and we knew it was high enough to drive under. I can’t count how many times I sailed underneath that gate in my Ford Taurus.
Until one day I was coming home, driving up the dirt road, to the 72 acres the family called “The Place.” On that day, I was unaware that the road had been graded, which changed the contour of the gravel just enough.
If you’ve never scraped off the top of your car roof with a metal bar, then you will have to use your imagination to get the sound effects.
There I sat, part way under the gate, knowing I had done significant damage to my car. Please tell me what you would have done in such a situation. Back out? Keep going forward? I finally sighed deeply and chose to keep going forward, gritting my teeth and already wondering how I was going to confess this ridiculous auto damage to my husband.
That experience describes our current quarantine predicament. There we were, just going along with life, when we quickly found ourselves stuck and missing a layer of paint.
In Montana, we’re a week away from coming out of quarantine, and it feels like it’s going to be about as pleasant as dragging a metal bar over the as-yet-undamaged part of a vehicle roof. But there’s no backing out and pretending like this pandemic thing never happened.
We have no choice but to move forward.
I’m writing, because I think somebody needs to say out loud that coming out of quarantine is going to be as much, if not more, painful and grating on the nerves than going into it was. I don’t think we have to pretend like the shelter-in-place order will lift and all will be peachy again. (Wait, was it ever peachy?) Moving forward is going to be hard and painful.
Jesus’ words come to mind:
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NIV)
We’re going to have trouble because of the virus and the subsequent relational awkwardness caused by social distancing, the differing opinions about what should be done, the economic mess, the undercurrent of fear, and the political ramifications of a global crisis.
We will have more trouble.
But Jesus tells us what to do with our hearts, as quarantine lifts but problems don’t. He tells us to take heart, which is clear evidence that he knows the toll the Covid-19 experience is having within us. Why would he give his followers a pep talk, if he didn’t foresee how desperately we would need it?
Jesus has overcome all of this. We feel like we’re still scraping along underneath the virus, but he has overcome it. He’s on top of it.
And it occurred to me this week that Jesus doesn’t get wrung out. There’s nobody on our planet who’s not wrung out right now, but Jesus is fresh. He’s emotionally stable, financially unscathed and still with abounding resources, completely in-the-know about where all of this is going, and full of joy.
So let’s comfort one another as we keep moving forward, being honest about what’s hard but keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. More change and challenges are coming, but we’re going to be okay.