I used to carry a card in my wallet. The card proclaimed me to be a Republican in good standing. That was when Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole led the party with ethical and pragmatic thinking. Since then Republicans have abandoned nearly all the principles for which they stood. Many conservative Republicans see danger and folly in Trumpism–a philosophy of total self-interest and using blatant falsehood to achieve power.
Sadly, Trump’s most loyal constituency is evangelical Christianity. Many not only look the other way but extol Trump as doing God’s work despite hundreds of amoral acts. Trump has committed so many egregious wrongs–proven to those willing to hear–that they now seem ordinary. But even among conscientious Christians, allegiance to the Republican Party–whatever actions they take–has become almost universal.
Most who receive this know of my fifty-year dedication and service to Jesus Christ. I’m now dismayed how Trumpism is discrediting the message of Christ among those we hope to reach. Please believe me that you don’t have to vote Republican in the upcoming election to be a good Christian. I urge you to vote Donald Trump and all who enable him out.
I had planned to rent a truck then drive our furniture and 116 large boxes from Arkansas to Washington state. But after six intense months preparing and selling our house followed by three stressful months living from suitcases, Kit and I were wasted both physically and emotionally. So we hired a company to move our things.
The company required our presence at loading. We drove from western Washington to Little Rock to meet them. Temperatures that afternoon hit 100 actual or 109 degrees with heat index. One of the movers had already been overcome by heat exhaustion. Then one of the movers noticed a little mold on a wooden chair. The foreman told us they had to leave all our furniture behind. In the hot sun, Kit and I cleaned every inch of wood with bleach solution to avoid a disaster. Then a few shotgun shells somehow fell out of a box. The movers asked us if any other ammunition was in the 116 boxes. If so, they could not move us. Immediately, I remembered packing a few other shells somewhere, but had no idea where. And loading of the truck was nearly finished.
That’s when I deliberately lied. “No. I’m sure there aren’t.” You know the circumstances. And I knew the packed cartridges to be harmless. Even in a fire they would simply crack like firecrackers. Without a gun barrel to accelerate the bullet, they wouldn’t fly all over like depicted in old comedies. Still, a lie is a lie, especially a self-serving lie. That lie haunts me still.
Only one other time since a teenager had I blatantly lied. An auto accident. Me first to help a man thrown from his car with a horrible head injury. “Am I going to be okay?” he pleaded. “You’ll be fine. Just need a few stitches,” I calmly assured him while holding his hands to prevent him from discovering his injury. In truth, I expected him to die right there. Fortunately, the victom did fully recover. And later a doctor told me I had done the right thing to prevent shock. But I meant to lie.
After pondering the issue of lying for seven weeks now, I’ve come to believe that lying to help someone in a life-and-death situation isn’t sin. However, lying to extract yourself from a difficult situation is sin. I’m confessing my sin to God and to you. (James 5:16)
More significant, I’ve had a refresher on how desperate circumstances can erode moral resolve . . . in any of us. I’m hoping that will make me more merciful regarding the sins of others.
I’m not trying to excuse the sin of lying. My pondering reminded me of Revelations 21:8 promising the “fiery lake” to liars. I also remembered the difference between committing a sin versus practicing sin. The difference between telling a lie and being a practicing liar. Those practicing lying or enabling others who practice lying should examine their lives according to 1 John.
The Can’t-Get-Away Club started in Mobile, Alabama during the yellow fever epidemic of 1839. When most people left town to escape, a few stayed behind to care for the afflicted. Many of the caregivers died themselves. The point was that the club members could have gotten away, but their love of God and their neighbors wouldn’t allow them to leave. A lot more men and women gave their lives helping others in subsequent plagues until science discovered the causes, mosquitos. The club continued serving those afflicted through the last epidemic in 1897.
During our Covid 19 pandemic nearly all medical staff, like the Can’t-Get-Away Club, have chosen to remain at posts no amount of money could compensate. Some of these heros have been afflicted even died for their dedication. Most of us are not qualified for the highly skilled medical tasks required. Yet we can be challenged by their heroic commitment to their fellow man. Let us do what we can for others in the difficult days ahead.
The following is an excerpt from a final letter written by club member John Wesley Starr–aged 23–to his family seven days before his death of yellow fever:
“Nothing but the confidence which I have in the special providence of God could have enabled me to resist your pressing solicitations to fly from the danger. I felt that the danger was in flying. In the midst of destruction, I feel that I am in safety, because I am in the place, and surrounded by the circumstances which God ordered for me. Already, however, do I sympathize with you in your sorrowing, as by anticipation I view my death.”
I believe that Jesus facing his own death would have said exactly the same thing.
Trees are starting to change color here in Washington. In August? Well, from some vantage points we can actually see Canada. And we’re farther north than parts of Ontario and Quebec. Kit is just hoping our tomatoes will ripen before frost.
The days here feel like mid-October in Arkansas with low fifties temperatures at night and low-humidity seventies during blue-sky days. “Enjoy it while you can,” locals warn us. “The winter will be long, wet, and dreary.” Fortunately, Kit and I love cold rainy days. I’m grateful to God for this late-life opportunity.
An eight-year-old approached his parents who were both quietly reading on a spring afternoon. “Can I plant some vegetables in the backyard?” I asked.
Mom and Dad looked at each other. Neither had any interest in gardening. Somehow young Drew had picked up a recessive gene, I suppose. Dad looked at Mom who shrugged a little. “Ahh . . . sure,” he answered.
An hour later curiosity pulled my parents away from their books. In the backyard, they found me with a shovel larger than myself digging up a plot bigger than they could have imagined. As good parents, they enthusiastically supported my initiative. More than sixty years later, I’m still gardening.
The fitted sheet, contributed by Kit, shields tender young broccoli plants from an intense Washington sun. Even though air temperatures rarely exceed 80 degrees near the Puget Sound, clear blue skies make the sun HOT. But, if established in the late summer, broccoli could bear in the chilly wet winter until April.
Mom and Dad sacrificed some yard grass and bought me all the seeds I wanted. But they enabled a life-long joy. Lord make me sensitive to opportunities when a little sacrifice and some seeds–literal or figurative–can give a precious gift.
They don’t care whether you live or die, I thought. Several weeks ago moving our stored furniture required Kit and me to cross the country as the pandemic worsened. The general disregard for masks and social distancing on display in public places shocked me. Many seemed to flaunt a comradery of defiance. Kit and I are both older and each have additional factors that increase the risk of Covid 19. But we could not avoid close proximity to non-mask wearers. I wanted to shout, “Masks prevent spread of the virus. Please stop risking my life!”
One of the core principles of Christianity is caring about the welfare of others. Those who follow Jesus Christ should apply his directive to “love your neighbor” by not unnecessarily putting them at risk. Wearing a mask in public is a small inconvenience to potentially save lives. I believe Jesus would wear a mask in these circumstances. Sadly, church-related activities–those disregarding the advice of medical experts–have been demonstrated to rapidly spread the contagion.
Some might counter, “We’re more interested in saving souls than temporal lives.” Yesterday, I watched a TV evangelist making light of the pandemic among an unmasked throng. He effectively broadcast a message to all who might notice, “We don’t really care whether you live or die.” I wanted to ask him, “How many do you think you’ll convince to trust Jesus like that?”
“What will we do now?” we had asked ourselves. FamilyLife announced moving from Little Rock nearly a year ago. Almost immediately we began a “last grand adventure.” Eleven difficult and sometimes hazardous months later we have a new home and an exciting bonus life.
Our house is set in deep Northwest woods near the beautiful fish-filled Puget Sound. You can Google Earth 3662 Harper Hill Road SE, Port Orchard, WA 98366. The house is ultra modern and the former owners had a taste for gadgets. Why use a simple light switch when a programmable controller will do? Electric devices blink at us for which we cannot yet discern a purpose. Occasionally a computerized voice speaks. Our challenges aren’t entirely over.
I’ve themed before that adventures–although rarely fun at the moment–can enrich our lives. We’ve had quite an adventure getting here. Now the fun starts. Once again I urge you to try doing new and hard things regardless of your age.
We hope to welcome guests such as yourselves. Lots of nature-oriented outdoor activities are available even in the pandemic. And Seattle is only a short ferry ride away.
A lot of readers have loved our wholesome novels. We hope you’re among them. If so, you’ll be happy that we finally published the next Dave and Katie mystery and adventure, Challenge in the Golden State. Moving and the pandemic delayed us grievously. But our reviewers are claiming this is the best story we’ve written.
Kit and I have been in transition for seven months now and homeless for eleven weeks. We’ve been in many Covid 19 threatening situations we couldn’t avoid. Both of us are at high-risk should we contract the virus. Drew with low virus resistance. Kit with only one kidney. Then finally we found a house. We would soon have a place of refuge and relative safety. Soon after Kit started experiencing fever, body aches, and congestion.
I don’t think despair is strong enough word to describe our emotions. Neither of us was particularily afraid of dying and joining God. But to have worked so hard and come so close to our goals . . . Then California–God bless them–where we’re staying during the house closing period, provided a Covid 19 test in our car. Both of us tested “NEGATIVE.”
I can’t remember ever being granted such a reprieve. Regardless of what (maybe God) caused Kit’s symptoms, it did us a favor. Although practicing all the safety precautions–masks, distancing, frequent hand cleansing, and avoiding public places whenever possible–we were tiring of the restrictions. Perhaps even getting careless. Now our committment to both personal safety and the safety of others has been renewed.
If you’re tiring of the restrictions, let me urge you to stay viligent. Each of us has important reasons and people for whom to remain healthy. A vaccine is likely in early 2021. Let us sacrifice convenience and comfort for the good of all.
Previously, we wrote about the hyper-hot real estate market in Washington. We managed to react in a few hours–before most of the competition–to a new listing. We had to outbid only one other buyer. Even so, we paid an insane amount. Half the size as our house in Arkansas for twice the cost.
Immediately, we experienced strong emotions for spending so much money; shock, grief, fear, and guilt. I told our realtor that for that much money down South, you could buy a plantation with an antebellum home stocked with ghosts. And that money could do a lot of good, if carefully applied.
But we do have a plan to make the investment productive for the benefit of others–after we enjoy it a few years. We’ll will the house to a non-profit. Because of the skyrocketing prices in a desirable location, this house is very likely to be worth more later. A good cause will need the money a few years from now.
About the house: I had anticipated a cabin-like home on the margins of civilization. Trouble is, those sites don’t have reliable Internet and in some cases not even cell service. So the house we selected is in a residential area–to our surprise only thirteen miles to downtown Seattle. That is, thirteen miles over water. We’re on the opposite side of Puget Sound from the city.
Truly we are fish-out-of-water here. This has been a theme in each of our novels. We’ll write with more feeling now. Washington was to be our “last grand adventure.” That adventure we are experiencing.