On most Sundays, I publish the Sunday Lesson. They’re nothing more than an observation or an idea or a study I’m working on that has useful applications. I feel deeply blessed and deeply responsible to write this. I schedule the posts to publish at 1:35. If you miss one, let me know and I will email it to you. You can also sign up for notifications and will get an email anytime I post something. I’m up for all comments and try to respond to them all. Be forewarned that I reserve Sundays for my family. It’s a work in progress, but a goal we’re all growing into. So, if I don’t respond, I’m probably playing chess with my daughter or watching lousy TV with my wife. On an outstanding day, I might catch a couple innings of Braves baseball. With my wife, of course. It’s Sunday.
I opt out of a Biblical lesson this week to tell a story. You can apply any number of truths and scripture to this one.
Readers know I was in an accident in 2018. I was in a bicycle race on Thursday and came home from work on Wednesday and decided to stretch my legs for an hour on my bike. To get my blood and oxygen pumping. Three miles from home, I was hit by a car. I spent two weeks on life support, five in a coma, and three months in the hospital, leaning to walk. And think. And to remember that my wife and I were married and that these were indeed my children.
I was home from work for five months. I spent my first day back getting approved for access and going through email. Around lunchtime, my manager found me and invited me to a conference room where he closed the door.
“Really?” I said. “A closed-door meeting on the first day back? You guys are getting rid of me already?”
He laughed. Kind of. “No. Man. What are you talking about?”
“C’mon,” I said, pointing. “The closed door, the secrecy…what’s up?”
“Well, there is something to talk about,” he said. “You picked a great day to come back. The company announced a re-organization today.” He held out his hands. “Don’t worry. You’re not going anywhere. You might get re-orged though.”
“Yeah. From a chemistry specialist to a tech. We’re cutting down to one specialist and moving people to tech positions.”
“One specialist? Down from five?” I didn’t have to think about it very hard. “I don’t think I want to be that one person.”
“None of it’s in our hands. We’re moving from 21 to 16 on the org chart, but we only have 15, so we’ll actually be hiring another tech. Lucky for me – you know how I hate this kind of stuff – I don’t have to let anyone go. The vice-president decides who goes where. All departments and all sites.”
“Ugh. That’s a job a wouldn’t want.”
“Rumor is that they’ll be walking a couple hundred engineers out of the Charlotte office. Won’t be pretty.”
So that was it.
The Drive Home
My wife came to pick me up after work – I didn’t drive for the first month back at work – and when I hopped in the car I told her about the reorganization.
“Hey! Guess what,” I said, making light of what I thought was bad news. “On my first day back, the company announces that they’re getting rid of the brain-damaged old guy. How ‘bout that?”
“What? Can they do that?”
“Well, it’s not just me,” I said. “It’s the entire company and all the sites. Like 30,000 people. They’re cutting everywhere they can. Our group is going from 21 to 16, but we only have 15 so we’ll be hiring instead of letting anyone go.”
We sat for a minute, the car running. Finally, we agreed: “After all we’ve been through, we’ve learned some things. Four things.” Mal held her hand up, counting fingers as we spoke. “We’re alive, we’re together, we love each other, and G will see us through.”
It’s a slogan for our family now, and I’ve had to drag it out of storage a few times since then. It’s as true now as it was true then.
Bad News, Fear, and Trust
I read this passage in the Hebrew wisdom books this morning that carried this home:
Bad news holds no fears for him,
Firm is his heat, trusting in Yahweh.
His heart holds steady, he has no fears,
Till he can gloat over his enemies.
Let me tell you: if anyone knows about bad news, it’s my wife. She ran to the hospital on the night of my accident, where a surgeon took her hands, telling her that my first hurdle would be living for 48 hours. No wife, no mom of young girls, no daughter, no human being wants to hear those words. But, we’ve learned not to fear in the middle of fearful news. We take precautions, true, and I buy medical insurance, but precautions aren’t the same as fear. The scripture above doesn’t say to run your chariot headlong into a garrison of Babylonians brandishing spears. It doesn’t say to grab hold of poisonous snakes. Instead, it admonishes the believer not to fear when bad news shows at the doorstep. Be steady. Be trusting. Trust in G. The point of gloating is not to gloat. The point is that Yahweh, the Living G, is trustworthy and cares for you. Security, and not fear, comes from Yahweh.
I have a sadness writing this lesson. To date, 400,000 Americans are dead now from COVID complications. I lived when I shouldn’t have, and they died when they shouldn’t have. Yes, people die from the flu and from war and from being hit by cars when they ride their bike, but here are 400,000 empty seats this coming year at graduation, and Thanksgiving, and at Christmas dinner. 400,000 people who won’t watch their granddaughter open her birthday present. It doesn’t change the statistics, I know, but saddens me nonetheless.
Think on these things.
By way of explanation, I label myself as an agnostic Christian. I attend a Southern Baptist church and am comfortable with Roman Catholic and Orthodox theology and all kinds of Protestant thought. For Bibles, I generally use the Jerusalem Bible, the English Standard Version, and the Amplified Bible. A favorite verse is Micah 6:8 where the prophet says:
G has already told you what is right and what to do: do what is right, love loyalty, and walk humbly with G.
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