Dennis Harding, RLACEI Director
It goes without saying that life is full of surprises (well, I said it anyway). Surprises can be good, bad, and/or life changing. For me, a not-so-good life-changing surprise came many years ago in the form of a letter from Uncle Sam that started, “Greetings ….” Months later I was standing on a hill in the heart of the Michelin rubber tree plantation in South Viet Nam, overlooking the Cambodian border, praying that God would deliver me from that awful place. He did, and I experienced firsthand that God answers prayers. That experience was a life-changer in many ways; bad, I thought at the time, but it did get me closer to God. So, I guess it can be said that it was a good/bad surprise.
A life-changing surprise came a few years after I returned from my Army stint. I was not going to church regularly, my life was unfulfilled, and I was very lonely. I would often talk to my mother, and many times she advised me to go back to church. She said I would be with people who had the same Christian values that I had and that I would eventually find a nice girl there. Despite my protestations that the church was small and that there was no one there for me, I took her advice and became a regular worshiper. Then came the big surprise; as Mom predicted, there she was, the most beautiful girl, devoted to God, and who gave a broken young man a chance. It was a life changer to be sure, and a blessing from God … a treasure of immeasurable worth.
Another good surprise came during a poker game at my house many years ago when my pregnant wife calmly announced that her water broke and that we had to go to the hospital. What a surprise that was! I told the guys they could stay and keep playing, and to lock up the house when they left. The baby came so fast that they were still playing cards when I called them to say that we had a new baby boy. That was one wacky night and a beautiful surprise!
So now, out of nowhere, life has given us all another surprise – the coronavirus. This surprise is not good, and certainly a life changer of unknown duration and effect. There are many questions being asked about how long will this go on, why is it happening, and what lasting changes will result. Will our society come out of this better or worse and will we, as individuals, be better or worse? The potential for either is there. This story is still being written and no one but God knows the outcome. At this time all we can do is to ask God to be with us, ask that life will return to some normalcy soon, and that we might, somehow, be better for this. And have faith that God will help us endure what is ahead.