What is freedom?

As the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 drag on, I’m seeing more and more on social media from people who are convinced that this is all a nefarious plot to permanently rob us of our rights and freedoms. These are people who, like me, have lived privileged lives; people who have no idea what true lack of freedom looks or feels like.

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photo: The Guardian

In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed and the iron curtain ceased to exist, Eastern Europeans jubilantly celebrated the freedom that they had long been denied. Sadly, however, some of the first “freedoms” to be exercised in these formerly communist countries were indulgence in pornography, prostitution, drugs, and organized crime. So what is freedom? According to many, it seems to be the right to do whatever I want, whenever I want, to whomever I want. How incredibly self-indulgent!

Freedom means many things to many people. It may mean having the opportunity to vote for the ideas, people, or parties that best represent our views. It may mean being able to freely express our ideas and opinions without fear of reprisal. To some it may mean being free of debt and having the financial wherewithal to buy whatever they want. To others it may simply mean being able to live without constant fear of violence or persecution.

Is being told to social distance or to wear a mask to enter certain businesses really robbing anyone of these rights and freedoms? Are temporary school closures and having to worship online instead of in person really endangering society as we know it? I hardly think so!

During the current pandemic, those of us who are willing to temporarily give up some of our freedoms for the good of the community and who dare to suggest that others ought to do the same run the risk of being labelled socialist. That’s an insult that’s commonly hurled about by those who fear that their freedoms are being forever taken from them. I pay it little mind, however, as they clearly aren’t political scientists!

The Bible has a lot to say about freedom. In fact, it’s one of the central themes of the entire Word. John 8:32 tells us that “the truth will set you free” and later, in John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” True freedom is found in relationship with Him.

This freedom is both freedom from and freedom to. Freedom from the things of this world that enslave us: earthly desires for wealth, success, and status; jealousy and envy; lust and perversion; rivalry and hatred. Freedom to be everything that we were designed to be, to do what we were made to do, and to serve God by serving others. Galatians 5:13-14 sums it up this way, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.'”

So how does this apply to Covid-19? Like true Biblical freedom, our political and social freedoms are also responsibilities. They don’t exist so that we can do whatever we want, whenever we want, to whomever we want. They exist for the good of the whole. Freedom provides opportunity and reason to serve whether by delivering groceries to doorsteps, making phone calls to ensure that neighbours and friends are faring well, sewing masks, or simply practicing social distancing and keeping our school and church doors closed until the threat of spreading the virus has lessened.

I don’t hide behind rose coloured glasses nor do I blindly believe that everything that our political leaders do is for our good, but I also don’t believe that Covid-19 is an evil plot to permanently rob us of our rights and freedoms!

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photo: National Post

At least these ones are social distancing!

 

Fear and Covid-19

Yesterday’s post generated a very lengthy discussion on Facebook. As the conversation went on it became very clear that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a great deal of fear. I found it very interesting that people were not expressing fear of the disease itself. No one talked about being afraid of succumbing to the virus or even of loved ones getting sick. Instead, they expressed fear that a vaccine, once discovered, will be forced on people against their will, fear that churches, now closed, might not be allowed to reopen, fear of economic collapse, and fear that our personal freedoms are being eroded and that we’re headed down the same road as Nazi Germany. It seems to me that what people are really afraid of is change, the unknown, what life will look like when this is all over.

Some of the fears that were expressed in yesterday’s conversation may seem pretty far-fetched, but I don’t want to make light of anyone’s fears. Fear is real and it can be debilitating. It feeds upon itself and it isn’t necessarily logical or realistic. After all, the author of fear is the great deceiver himself. The Bible calls him Satan.

I once preached an entire sermon on living without fear, but in a nutshell, the antidote to fear is trust. When we put our trust in our jobs, our institutions, our relationships, our rights and freedoms, what happens when those things are stripped away? That’s what we’re finding out now.

Our devotional this morning came from Proverbs 16. The second half of verse 20 jumped out at me like a flashing neon light… “blessed is he that trusts in the Lord.” When everything in life is like shifting sand, He is the one and only constant. Total trust in God is the only true remedy for fear.

The Bible is full of admonitions not to fear.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

In these uncertain times, when trusting in the things that we usually depend on fails us, we need to trust in the only One who knows what the final outcome will be, the One who will still be with us when Covid-19 is a distant memory.

The Bible also tells us that “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). As human beings, we may not be capable of perfect love, but we are certainly capable of reaching out to others in love even while we social distance. While the circumstances surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic have resulted in fear for many, they have also brought out the best in others. Whether it be singing and waving signs outside the windows of a long term care centre, dropping fresh baking on a neighbour’s doorstep, picking up and delivering groceries for someone who is self-isolating, planning a drive by birthday parade for a child who can’t have a traditional party, or just taking the time to pick up the phone and call someone who’s living alone, people are finding creative ways to reach out in love. Maybe, hopefully, this world will actually be a kinder place when this is over!

So if you’re feeling afraid, don’t just hunker down with your fear and let it fester. Trust in God and reach out in love. And if you’re truly feeling overcome, please reach out and ask for help.

Why is it so hard?

As I’ve seen the news about pastors, like Rev. Tony Spell in Louisiana, who are insisting on their “right” to hold Easter services in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, I have to ask why is it so hard to obey stay-at-home orders that have been put in place to protect the lives of the vulnerable; the very people that churches profess to care about? Why is it so hard?

I fully understand people wanting to be with family and to take part in their traditional Easter celebrations. I’d love to be with my kids and grandkids too, but I’ve been pondering why we do what we do and why we think we need to. Nowhere in scripture are we commanded to gather together for Easter (other than the instruction not to give up meeting together in Hebrews 10:25 which, thankfully, we’re able to do virtually) or given any instructions about how to celebrate the resurrection. These are manmade traditions. Perhaps a quiet, at home Easter without all those extras is not a bad thing. Perhaps it’s a time for us to reflect in a more intentional way on the real meaning of the event which is not bunnies, eggs, and chocolate. It isn’t even necessarily going to church!

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with the ways we usually celebrate Easter, but just this once, it’s okay to do things differently. In fact, we need to do things differently! As the church, we need to be obedient to the Word of God which tells us in several places to obey those in positions of authority over us. Romans 13:1 tells us, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Regardless of what people like Rev. Spell proclaim, we are called to obey those who put the current social distancing regulations in place! Why is that so hard?

I’m reminded of the two Easters that we spent in non Christian countries. In Japan, we did attend a Christian church and celebrated Easter there, but outside the walls of the church, there was no recognition of Easter at all. In China, where we weren’t part of any Christian organization, I’ll always remember that we went out for dinner with a couple of our college students on Easter Sunday and ate roast duck and bullfrog! Not frog’s legs, the whole frog! It was delicious, but I digress! At the end of that day, I wrote this and I think it applies as well to our current situation as it did then.

“Easter isn’t really about what we eat or who we spend the day with. Whether we’re with family around a table laden with ham and all the trimmings or in a shopping mall in China eating bullfrog, as Christians, Easter is at the centre of who we are and what we believe.”

 

Coping with the new normal

I was supposed to be in the city this afternoon for an appointment with Dr W concerning cancer #3 which is located in my thyroid. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, that didn’t happen. Clinic visits are being restricted to only the most urgent cases while people like myself are required to make do with a phone call from the doctor. Had I been in the office, Dr W would have done an ultrasound to determine whether or not there has been any change to my thyroid since I last saw him six months ago. We both agreed that that would have been the best scenario. If I was able to have an ultrasound done in the community where I live, we might have gone with that option, but the closest place that I could do that would be the hospital located an hour away. Since we both know that a hospital is a higher risk location than his clinic would be, we agreed that that wouldn’t be a good choice. Instead, we wait. We wait until the Covid-19 threat passes and I’m able to see him in his office again. He’s predicting June or July, but no one knows for sure. We wait and we pray that the cancer doesn’t grow or spread; that the additional two or three months doesn’t make a difference.

I was also planning to stop into the University Hospital dental clinic this afternoon to pick up a supply of the fluoride gel that I use once a day to protect my teeth from harmful effects of the radiation that I received after cancer #2 was surgically removed.  Thankfully, though, that can be sent to me by mail.

As we enter the fourth week since our province declared a state of emergency and services began to shut down, we’ve all experienced many changes. Most, like accessing my fluoride, have been fairly simple to deal with, while others, like not being able to see Dr W and have my scheduled ultrasound, are more challenging and may have serious long term effects.

Thankfully, for retirees like hubby and I, the impact of Covid-19 has thus far been easier to bear than it has been for many others. We don’t have a business to close, jobs to lose, or children to teach at home. Nevertheless, the novelty of staying home 24/7 wears pretty thin and many of the frustrations that go along with the current situation affect us all. In light of this, I thought I’d share a few things that are helping me deal with our new normal.

Routine.  I like routine at the best of times, but it’s even more important in times of uncertainty. This doesn’t mean that I can’t be flexible or spontaneous, but having some structure to my day really helps keep me on an even keel.

Adequate sleep.  I try to go to bed at night and get up in the morning at about the same time each day. That takes a bit of self-discipline. I tend to be a night owl and I could easily stay up way too late, but I know that I function best if I get about 8 hours of sleep a night. Thankfully, in spite of the fact that I’ve had a couple of nights where odd dreams that probably indicate an elevated stress level have kept me from sleeping well, most nights have not been like that and I feel well rested.

Exercise.  I’m very fortunate that, unlike many people who are finding it difficult to exercise because their gyms have closed, I have everything I need here at home. Monday to Friday my day begins with a 25 minute exercise routine that focuses on core strength, flexibility, and balance. Our basement gym consists of a treadmill, two weight benches, and a large assortment of free weights. Three afternoons a week find me down there lifting weights and on the alternate days, I either walk on the treadmill or outdoors. Sunday is usually a day of rest.

Healthy diet.  If anything, we’ve been eating better than ever since the beginning of this pandemic because I’ve been a little more intentional about meal planning. That started three weeks ago when we visited five grocery stores in one afternoon and found their meat departments almost empty! Thankfully, the shortage didn’t last and I’ve since been able to add enough to the freezer to last us quite awhile. We keep very little unhealthy snack food in the house, so even with many more hours at home, we haven’t been tempted to fill up on junk food.

Spiritual nourishment.  Prayer and Bible reading are regular parts of my daily routine that help keep me balanced. We’ve been missing the opportunity to meet in person on Sunday mornings, but we’ve been enjoying church online.

News, but not too much!  I don’t want to live with my head buried in the sand, but at the same time, I don’t want to become obsessed with every detail of what’s going on. I’ve continued my habit of reading the news after breakfast every morning. We subscribe to one newspaper online. I check the world, national, and local news each day, but I very seldom read editorials. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been watching our provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health give her daily Covid-19 update each afternoon online, but I don’t watch TV news.

Connection.  Staying in touch with friends and family by phone and online has been a vital part of staying sane. I enjoyed a lovely visit with a group of girlfriends via Zoom one evening last week and we’ve also enjoyed chats with several of our grandchildren.

Purpose.  It think one of the key ingredients to coping throughout the ups and downs of life and perhaps more than ever right now is having a sense of purpose. In addition to the usual day to day activities like meal preparation and exercising, I’ve been cleaning and reorganizing the kitchen cabinets and I’ve been using Duolingo to learn Spanish! Of course, there’s also the blog! Writing it and connecting with all of you gives me so much pleasure!

The one thing that I’d like to be doing more of these days is getting outdoors, but we seem to trapped in a never ending winter. Our snow is usually gone by the end of March, but not so this year. There’s lots of sunshine in the forecast though and our daytime temperatures are beginning to inch up over 0ºC (32ºF), so perhaps this too shall pass just as we know the pandemic will.

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So, my friends, how are you coping? What are some things that are helping you get through these most unusual times?

 

Kintsugi… broken made beautiful

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“We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”   2 Corinthians 4:7

When I read this verse in my morning devotions today, my mind went in several different directions. It immediately brought to mind a couple of verses from the Old Testament book of Isaiah.

“You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”   Isaiah 64:8

and

Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘You did not make me’? Can the pot say to the potter, ‘You know nothing’”?   Isaiah 29:16

We are all vessels shaped by God’s hands for His purpose, not our own.

Next, my mind went to the value of a clay pot. Many are plain on the outside and made for ordinary everyday purposes. They might not look like they have much value, but from earliest times people the world over have survived in the harshest of circumstances because they had simple clay pots to carry life giving water. We ought to be like those jars carrying life to those around us.

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Finally, I was reminded of the centuries old Japanese art of kintsugi. or “golden joinery.” Life is hard and sometimes our jars of clay are chipped, cracked, or broken, but God is not only the potter; he is also the master of kintsugi!

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Kintsugi is a method of repairing broken pottery using lacquer mixed with gold, silver or platinum. Rather than trying to hide the brokenness, it becomes part of the beauty of the piece. The process often enhances the value of the item as each mended piece is completely unique.

In a similar manner, when we bring our brokenness to God, He doesn’t reject or discard us. Instead, where we see only ugliness, he sees potential and the possibility of creating something new and beautiful. He takes our broken pieces and carefully puts them back together so that even though the cracks and scars might still be visible, they become part of our beauty. Through His loving grace and mercy, he forgives our failures and heals our hurts. When His gold fills our cracks, we are made stronger and more beautiful and His power and glory are seen in us. We simply need to put our broken lives into the hands of the master of kintsugi and trust Him to put us back together!

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Do the good you can do

Do you ever feel like permanently turning off the news and hiding away from the world? Sometimes it’s overwhelming, isn’t it? A plane is shot down and 176 people die, Australia burns and earthquakes rock Puerto Rico, a volcano erupts in the Philippines and thousands are forced to flee. Violence, murder, and mayhem seem to be the order of the day.

The Bible tells us that such things will happen as end times approach. Mark 13:7-8 says, When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.” But what are we to do in the meantime? How do we continue to function in a world that seems to be coming apart at the seams?

Do the good you can do.

Can you accomplish world peace, end hunger, prevent climate change, or stop the tectonic plates from shifting? No, of course you can’t, but there is good that you can do.

Do the good you CAN do.

  • make a Kiva loan to help an entrepreneur in a developing country establish a business and provide for their family
  • give a child the gift of education through child sponsorship
  • volunteer at a local homeless shelter or food kitchen
  • donate blood
  • become a mentor or tutor to someone who would benefit from your skills and experience
  • rake leaves or shovel snow for an elderly neighbour
  • make a donation to your local food bank
  • help build a Habitat for Humanity home
  • clean up a local beach or park
  • fill a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child
  • recycle
  • reduce your kitchen waste by composting or making “garbage soup”

The possibilities are endless. Do the good you CAN do.

Make kindness a lifestyle. Whether it’s simply smiling and saying hello or doing a random act of kindness for a stranger, you can make a difference in someone’s day. It won’t save the world, but it will make your small corner of it a better place to be and you might be surprised by how much better it makes you feel.

Do the good you can do.

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Fine, thanks!

It’s been quite awhile since I posted an update about my health. That’s because there really hasn’t been anything new to report. For someone with two kinds of cancer, that’s actually a very good thing, but I know that there are those of you who want to know what’s going on, so here’s the latest.

It’s already been over six months since I had my final PRRT treatment. Other than monthly injections of Sandostatin that are mainly meant to control symptoms, I’m not presently receiving any treatment for my neuroendocrine tumours (NETs). That’s a bit disconcerting, especially when more than one fellow zebra that I’ve come to recognize through a Facebook support group has succumbed to the disease in recent months. It’s really hard when one of those announcements shows up in my news feed.

On the other hand, I’m feeling 100% healthy, so most days it’s easy to ignore the fact that there are things lurking inside me that shouldn’t be there and that could begin to grow or spread at any time. I’m blessed to be able to live a full and productive life. I’m lifting weights again this winter and I’ve recently dusted off the treadmill and started using it again. If anything, I’m feeling better and stronger than I did six months ago.

A week before Christmas, I was in Edmonton for CT scans and blood work to find out if I’m really as healthy as I feel and yesterday we met with the doctor to get the results. Sometimes I suffer from a few days of scanxiety before an appointment like this one, but this time I felt completely at ease. I just kept reminding myself that God promised to take care of me over six years ago when I was first diagnosed and He has been faithfully doing that ever since. There’s no better place for me to be than in His hands.

When we sat down with the doctor yesterday all I really needed to hear was one word. Stable! Nothing has changed. No growth, no spread! Nothing to worry about. So, unless I begin to experience symptoms (which I haven’t since treatment began), we go through the same routine six months from now and hopefully receive the same good news again… and again… and again.

The CT scans reveal very little about my thyroid cancer which is entirely different and unrelated to my NETs. For news about that one I’ll have to wait until early April when I see that doctor again and he uses ultrasound to take a closer look and measure whether or not there’s been any change.

In the meantime, when you see me and ask, “How are you?” if I answer, “Fine, thanks!” that’s because I really am!

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One word for 2020

Three years ago, as part of a ministry that I was involved in, I was asked to choose one word to inspire or guide me in the coming year and to choose a scripture verse to go with it. As a lover of words, this was a perfect assignment for me and one that I’ve repeated each year since then. My word for 2017 was Still, for 2018 I chose Grace, and last year my word was Inspire. There’s actually a whole #OneWord365 movement on the internet urging members to choose just one word to focus on every day, all year long; a word that sums up who they want to be or how they want to live.

The weekly Bible study that I do with a small group of women from my church pointed me toward the word that I’ve chosen for 2020: Bold. The study, Legacy: How One Ordinary Life Can Make an Eternal Difference with Jackie Green and Lauren Green McAfee, points out that being bold is vital to leaving a spiritual legacy. According to the study, “being bold doesn’t mean breaking rules or social conventions just for the sake of being a rule breaker. It’s not about demanding your own way. It’s not about having a sense of entitlement. Rather, biblical boldness is about speaking the truth even when it’s unpopular. The bold act without worrying about what other people think or say because they have confidence in following a higher standard. The bold are willing to break with tradition.”

The dictionary defines bold as showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous.

“Bold people stand out from the group. They are confident, courageous, and directed.” says Kevin Daum, author, columnist, entrepreneurship coach, marketer and speaker in a post entitled 7 Things Really Bold People Do. “People who choose to be bold are inspiring not just because they get big things accomplished, but because they also instigate growth, progress, and movement for themselves and others around them.” That definitely resonated with me considering that my word for the past year was Inspire.

The Bible verse that I selected to go with this year’s word is Proverbs 28:1. The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” Known as the king of the beasts, the mighty lion is regal and fearless. With a roar that can be heard from more than 5 miles (8 km) away, he’s a symbol of fearlessness, strength and invincibility.

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So how do you blend boldness with grace? How do you act boldly without being abrasive? How do you speak up for what you believe in or what you know to be true without sounding arrogant and turning people off? These are the questions that I’m wrestling with as I enter the new year.

I want to have the boldness of the early disciples who shared their faith in spite of great opposition. I want to have the courage to confront injustice and stand up for the downtrodden. I want to be bold enough to reach out to the woman weeping in the ladies room at the cancer clinic instead of just saying a silent prayer for her.  

So how am I, a naturally shy and introverted person, going to learn to act with greater boldness? One recommendation that I read suggested that I pretend that I’m already bold, ask myself what I’d do if I was, and then act accordingly. That’s what I’m determined to do this coming year.

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What about you? Can you think of one word to inspire or guide you in the new year?

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Reclaiming Christmas

The fact that the world has ‘stolen’ our Christian holy days and turned them into commercial extravaganzas has been one of my pet peeves for a very long time. Walk up and down the aisles full of Christmas decorations in any store and what do you see? Santas, reindeer, snowmen, and Disney characters galore. What do any of these have to do with the real meaning of Christmas? Look at the outdoor decorations in your neighbourhood. You might see a nativity scene, particularly in front of a church, but where is Christ in most of those decorations? What does an inflatable penguin or puppy have to do with Christmas? I don’t know either, but you can get one for just $19.98 CAD at Walmart!

Don’t even get me started on that stupid Elf on a Shelf! Whoever thought that one up did nothing but add more meaningless stress to an already over-stressed season for anyone who bought into it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a total Grinch! I love Christmas lights. After all, it was Christ Himself who said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV

Though standing a tree in the house and decorating it with lights and ornaments often strikes me as a weird tradition, I also love the Christmas tree that stands in front of our living room window. Many of its decorations point to the true meaning of Christmas. That’s very intentional. It’s one small attempt at reclaiming Christmas.

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Although a beautiful nativity scene also has a place of prominence, our home isn’t completely devoid of the fun side of Christmas. Santa and one of his reindeer stand atop a cabinet in the living room. Surrounded by teddy bears and twinkly lights, he’s checking his list and preparing for his round the world gift giving flight, but it’s the little Santa bowing over the manger on another shelf that holds greater meaning for me.

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So what is the real meaning of Christmas? “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people,” an angel told some shepherds keeping watch over their flocks outside Bethlehem that night so long ago; a night that would forever change the world. (Luke 2:8-10 NIV) That night the mighty Creator of the universe chose to come to earth in the form of a tiny babe, to live among us, and to show us who He really is. That night, He began His journey to the cross where He would pay the penalty for all our failures and give us the gift of eternal life with Him. There is no better gift than that! It costs nothing but the willingness to humble ourselves and surrender to His leading in our lives. That’s what Christmas is really all about! That’s true love and that’s why I want to reclaim Christmas. I can’t take it back from the masses who celebrate by overindulging and running up their credit card bills, but I can keep the love of Christ at the centre of my Christmas season.

When we were teaching in Japan, I asked one of my adult students why so many Japanese people celebrate the birth of a God they don’t believe in. “We love to decorate and we love to shop,” she told me. Perhaps that’s why most people celebrate a holy day that has no real meaning to them.

Why do you celebrate Christmas? What does it mean to you?

 

Living in a frightened world

I grew up in the 1960s when the threat of a nuclear holocaust hung over our heads. The world was about to end, or so many people thought. I wasn’t more than 10 years old when we visited a colleague of my father’s and were ushered down to the basement to view the fully equipped fallout shelter that was going to save his family from annihilation. Later, I clearly remember sitting in a sixth grade classroom when a substitute teacher told us that we had no chance of growing to adulthood. A nuclear bomb would wipe us out before that could happen! There was no internet back then or the hype would probably have been even more intense than it was.

Not only did I live to adulthood, but so have my children. Throughout my lifetime, however, it seems that there has always been another doomsday looming just ahead. On a lesser scale than the nuclear threat, there was Y2K, the day when all the computers were going to shut down and the world as we knew it was going to grind to a halt. I knew people who spent months living in fear, stockpiling essentials, and preparing for the crash that never came. There have been many other similar predictions to instill fear in the masses.

Now, it’s climate change. Don’t get me wrong. Is the world’s climate changing? Of course, it is. When has it not been? Climate has never been static. In my mind, though, the latest  predictions of looming catastrophe lead to more questions than answers. How much of the climate change that is actually being observed or recorded today has been caused or escalated by human action and how much is part of the cycles and changes of nature?  Can we really make a significant difference? What extremes are the radical climate change activists actually willing to go to to make this happen? What changes are they making in their day to day lives? What comforts of life are they really willing to give up? Air conditioning? Forced air furnaces? Television? Computers? Global travel? Driving to the grocery store? How about washers and dryers? Are they really willing to go back to the back-breaking way of life of our forefathers? Legislating an end to global fossil fuel usage when green energy has not been developed to the point where it can take over and provide the benefits of modern life truly would cause a global catastrophe of enormous magnitude and it would be felt most strongly by those of us living in the First World.

Like the substitute teacher in my grade six classroom, activists like young Greta are  spouting off frightening “facts” some of which aren’t even true. “For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear,” she says. No it hasn’t. For example, consider this headline in the April 16, 1970 edition of The Boston Globe: “Scientist predicts a new ice age by the 21st century.” There are too many similar prophecies to begin listing them here. “People are dying. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction.” Really? Last time I checked, the world’s population was at an all time high and average lifespans were continuing to increase.

People have been prophesying the end of the world since the earliest days of recorded history. Even Christopher Columbus got into the act predicting in his Book of Prophecies (1501) that the world would end in 1656. So far, none of the apocalyptic predictions with due dates have come true and I would hazard a guess that the most recent one won’t either.

I would love it if my grandchildren could grow up in a world free from fear mongering and doomsday predictions, but perhaps that’s just not the way of mankind. Perhaps God placed within the heart of man an understanding that the world is eventually going to end. Scripture predicts it. We are told “When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines.” (Mark 13:7-8) Does that sound familiar? Elsewhere, in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 we’re told, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” I believe that we are living in these times, but I wouldn’t be so rash as to try to predict how soon it will all play out and the world will come to an end. The Bible tells us that no one will know the time or the day. (Matthew 24:36) 

In the meantime, let’s send the kids back to school, seek to educate ourselves and understand the facts using reliable sources (there’s the teacher in me talking), and strive to do the small and reasonable things within our power to be good stewards of all that we’ve been blessed with. And if there’s to be another student protest, let’s see how many come out if it’s held on a weekend. That’s the teacher in me talking too!

I realize that this is a controversial topic. Some will agree and some won’t. All I ask is that we keep the dialogue respectful.