The Cure for Disorientation

Are you going crazy?

Never before in the history of the world has everyone everywhere been united in the exact same experience: We are all going crazy! Perhaps you have seen the list of twenty-five items that illustrate how our feeling crazy isn’t so crazy. This list is popping up all over the Internet, but as far as I know, the author is unknown.

  1. Basically, you can’t leave the house for any reason, but if you have to, then you can.
  2. Masks are useless, but maybe you have to wear one, it can save you, it is useless, but maybe it is mandatory as well.
  3. Stores are closed, except those that are open.
  4. You should not go to hospitals unless you have to go there. Same applies to doctors, you should only go there in case of emergency, provided you are not too sick.
  5. This virus is deadly but still not too scary, except that sometimes it actually leads to a global disaster.
  6. Gloves won’t help, but they can still help.
  7. Everyone needs to stay HOME, but it’s important to GO OUT.
  8. There is no shortage of groceries in the supermarket, but there are many things missing when you go there in the evening, but not in the morning. Sometimes.
  9. The virus has no effect on children except those it affects.
  10. Animals are not affected, but there is still a cat that tested positive in Belgium in February when no one had been tested, plus a few tigers here and there…
  11. You will have many symptoms when you are sick, but you can also get sick without symptoms, have symptoms without being sick, or be contagious without having symptoms. Oh, my..
  12. In order not to get sick, you have to eat well and exercise, but eat whatever you have on hand and it’s better not to go out, well, but no…
  13. It’s better to get some fresh air, but you get looked at very wrong when you get some fresh air, and most importantly, you don’t go to parks or walk. But don’t sit down, except that you can do that now if you are old, but not for too long or if you are pregnant (but not too old).
  14. You can’t go to retirement homes, but you have to take care of the elderly and bring food and medication.
  15. If you are sick, you can’t go out, but you can go to the pharmacy.
  16. You can get restaurant food delivered to the house, which may have been prepared by people who didn’t wear masks or gloves. But you have to have your groceries decontaminated outside for 3 hours. Pizza too?
  17. Every disturbing article or disturbing interview starts with ” I don’t want to trigger panic, but…”
  18. You can’t see your older mother or grandmother, but you can take a taxi and meet an older taxi driver.
  19. You can walk around with a friend but not with your family if they don’t live under the same roof.
  20. You are safe if you maintain the appropriate social distance, but you can’t go out with friends or strangers at the safe social distance.
  21. The virus remains active on different surfaces for two hours, no, four, no, six, no, we didn’t say hours, maybe days? But it takes a damp environment. Oh no, not necessarily.
  22. The virus stays in the air – well no, or yes, maybe, especially in a closed room, in one hour a sick person can infect ten, so if it falls, all our children were already infected at school before it was closed. But remember, if you stay at the recommended social distance, however in certain circumstances you should maintain a greater distance, which, studies show, the virus can travel further, maybe.
  23. We count the number of deaths but we don’t know how many people are infected as we have only tested so far those who were “almost dead” to find out if that’s what they will die of…
  24. We have no treatment, except that there may be one that apparently is not dangerous unless you take too much (which is the case with all medications).
  25. We should stay locked up until the virus disappears, but it will only disappear if we achieve collective immunity, so when it circulates… but we must no longer be locked up for that?”

     *     *     *

One of the ways I have been keeping my bearings is that in my daily Bible reading journal, I make a note that (to me) is like Captain Kirk’s Star Trek log (e.g. Captain’s log. Stardate 4513.3.). I have been counting my COVID-19 days from the first Sunday our church building was closed, March 15. That makes today (April 21, 2020), “C19 Day 38.”

Disoriented

To be fair, calling how I feel “insanity” isn’t truly accurate, though I am happy to leave that judgement to you. What I think I am actually feeling (as you may be too) is disoriented. Not only is the current virus strain novel, so is everything that that goes along with it. It’s no wonder government directives on how to best navigate the situation are contradictory, no one really knows what’s going on, where it’s going, or how long it will last. Are we doing enough or too much? How can we be sure?

You may be bored out of your mind; you may be busier than ever. You may get to the end of the day and feel guilty for not accomplishing anything but can’t think of what it was you should have done. And since we are living with 24/7 connectivity, we can’t stop: Let’s take a break from our Zoom calls, and watch some Netflix…but, first I need to get caught up with my Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok. Then perhaps I will do my online fitness class for the first time in two weeks. What? It’s 1 a.m. already! Excuse me while I wash my hands. Why do I have Happy Birthday stuck in my head all day long?

Forgetting the Big Picture

I lost it the other day. Am I the only one? I was so overwhelmed with being busy and seemingly having nothing to show nothing for it, I was dumping on my wife. Then she said something that I really didn’t want to hear at the time. It was something to the effect of losing sight of the big picture.

Hey, I’m the Big Picture guy. Haven’t you been to my seminar? What are you talking about?

But she was right. I had become so focused on the details of life – well, actually not. The details themselves had become fuzzy, out of context. I couldn’t see how anything fit anymore. I was just trying to get stuff – whatever stuff – done, that the stuff itself had become meaningless. And why? I lost sight of the big picture.

We forget how much we depend on the big picture – any big picture – to cope with day-to-day life. From when we get up to when we go to bed, we (usually unconsciously) relate the details of life to our understanding of life itself. Whatever big picture we have, it is what drives us, rewards us, condemns us. It’s our metanarrative (the grand encompassing story that informs every other story of our lives) that provides our standards, values, and goals. It’s what makes us feel good or bad about ourselves.

Whether your metanarrative is right, wrong, or a mixture of the two, the current crisis has likely obscured it if not yet destroyed it. How you have made sense of the world until now, doesn’t make sense any more. Those of us who claim to have a well-delineated worldview may think that we are immune to losing focus. But a crisis, be it a typical personal one or a unique global one, tends to challenge our assumptions and expose both the weaknesses in what it we claim to believe and our ability to believe it.

Perhaps your worldview is that there is no big picture; that life is meaningless and disjointed. You do what you do because it’s what you feel like doing at the time. Goals and routine are nothing more than practical conveniences to suit your personal preferences. If that is the case, then the current crisis is forcing you into a metanarrative. You don’t get to control you own story anymore. You can strive as much as you like to get control of the steering wheel of your life, but other forces are driving you now. Despite your denying the existence of any grand meaning and purpose, you too are disoriented.

God’s metanarrative

Once I had accepted that I had lost perspective, I began to imagine how the current confusion could fit into God’s metanarrative as I understand it from the Bible. It really helped me to remember that:

  • We live in a world created good but gone bad due to human rebellion against God.
  • Since then, God has been at work to renew his creation and invites his human creatures to join him in that process.
  • The Bible alone provides us with God’s revelation of his plans and purposes so that we can live effective, godly lives.
  • Godly, effective living must be rooted in reconciliation with God through faith in the Messiah.
  • Our troubles, big or small, should not distract us as we rely on God to direct us and sustain us through the process of his plans and purposes.

And there’s always this one:

  • It’s not about me.

Clarity restored

Being aware of God’s metanarrative doesn’t automatically resolve our disorientation. It takes a purposeful act of the heart and mind to connect ourselves and our situations to the truth of life from God’s perspective. However, we cannot make that connection unless we have a grasp of God’s perspective, his epic story.

Tragically, even people who read the Bible regularly fail to grasp the big picture of God’s epic story. That is due to either the tendency to read the Bible in disconnected chunks or to view it through one of many skewed filters imposed upon it, or both. You may have heard me describe the big picture of the Bible’s story as: “God’s rescue operation of the creation through Abraham and his descendants.” It is once we grasp this that the details of the Bible begin to become clear and we can discover our place in God’s plan.

No crisis, be it global pandemic or localized disaster, undermines the depth of meaning waiting for us to discover in the Bible rightly understood. It’s not too late to discover or re-discover God’s epic story and our role in it.

New! God’s Epic Story Seminar Online

Given the current crisis, I am offering my “God’s Epic Story” seminar online for the very first time.

God’s Epic Story takes you on a tour of key biblical passages that outline the unfolding of God’s plan in such a way that unveils the Bible’s Big Picture. Over the course of this seminar you will…

  • Understand our world from God’s perspective.
  • Discover how the centrality of Israel in God’s plan integrates the whole Bible and provides a foundation for all of life.
  • See how the coming of Jesus as Israel’s Messiah is the fulfillment of Old Testament expectation and enables us to truly know God and live life the way he intends.
  • Realize that the Gospel is much more than an individualistic spiritual experience; it is an invitation to be part of God’s transformational, world-wide mission.

Format: Weekly live one-hour presentation followed by Q&A.

Start Date: Wednesday, May 6, 2020 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time

Duration: 10 weeks

Cost: Free (donations appreciated)

Registration: To register, fill in this form. Further details will be sent to you by email.

Subject to registration minimum.

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