Redeeming the Time

So many people are working overtime to deal with situations created by COVID-19. I appreciate the many sacrifices health care workers are making. My mother, who lives in an Assisted Living facility told me that aides and nurses there are doing double shifts. In addition, I heard of a potato famer out west that had a mountain of potatoes piling up, because restaurants have seen a greatly reduced demand for things like French Fries. Instead of plowing the potatoes back into the ground, he invited anyone to come and take as much as they’d like – and many did, from miles away. I also know of a local restaurant that is donating unused perishables to hospitals. It is wonderful to see how people are thinking of different ways to help each other through this difficult time. The interruption to our usual routine may be the very thing God could use in your life to bless others. Which reminds me of a story . .

It was the end of March, 1979, and I was a senior at Lebanon Valley College in Annville PA, which is seven miles East of Hershey, and about 12 miles East of Harrisburg. The crisis at that time was the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, just south of Harrisburg. College administrators had to close the campus, since faculty and students were leaving town, due to worries of radiation fallout in the air. I decided to stay, because I was in a small seven-piece combo band, and we had gigs Friday and Saturday of that weekend, which we had to honor, and we did. I distinctly remember that Friday night, traveling to the gig, because the sky was an ominous monolithic gray, making me wonder about that fallout, and my own health!

Come Sunday morning however, it was a bright sunny day. Some of my friends who were believers knocked on my door, and said – instead of going to church – why don’t we go up to the Hershey Park arena, and see if we can cheer up some people. We had heard that the arena was packed with pregnant women and women with very young children, who were being housed there in anticipation of an evacuation, and who had nowhere to go in case that happened. I asked my friends – what do you have in mind? They suggested we take a couple of guitars and do some simple Christian songs, and that I could give a brief message of hope to be found in the gospel. The girls who were elementary education majors said they would do some things for the young children while I would be speaking.

That seemed like a good idea – so about eight of us went over to the arena to see if we could bring some encouragement to more than likely some very worried and even frightened families.

When we got to the arena, we went up to the main entrance. However, we found it was understandably well-guarded by police, and so we thought – oh well, we probably won’t be allowed inside. But we decided to ask anyway. When we told the officer in charge what we wanted to do, we said we understand if we are not allowed to go in. To our surprise, he exclaimed, “You kids go right on in there –these people are beside themselves — they could really use whatever you can offer.” Wow – that really surprised us; and so, we went inside, and did a small program for about a half-hour, which was very much appreciated by those listening. When we left, we were elated that the Lord prompted us to interrupt our normal routine, and offer the gospel and uplifting music for a despondent group of families.

And so, I wonder – maybe the Lord might be prompting you to do something different at this time, to bless someone? Maybe it could be just a phone call to a fellow employee you haven’t seen in two months? Maybe just a text to say you are praying for them? Maybe an inquiry to someone out of work about how your church could be assisting them in a financial way? Trust me, if you are being prompted, and you follow through, you will share the same elation we had that day 41 years ago. And if you do find a way beyond your normal circle of life, please let me know, so I can share that joy with you.

Pastor Jim.

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