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BOWEN: Ah, here’s something this pandemic has taught us

So, what is it that we’re learning today in this pandemic period? That type of question probably sounds a great deal like one of the questions you’ve had to ask your children as you have become their teacher in recent weeks.

Ah, the answers are legion. But we know we’ve learned that we can be together 24/7 and still survive; and we’ve learned that we CAN do without football, basketball, and baseball; and we’ve learned that we can work from home as well as from the office (well, almost as well, maybe); and we’ve learned that we actually can swing a hammer and can do work around the house. Why, I’ve reverted to my bricklaying days this past week, bricking a brick patio outside my back door, with the amazin’ blonde’s help.

And we cannot forget one of the biggest lessons, and that is that we’ve learned that parents are not teachers — never have been, never wanted to be, and never want to try doing it again.

We smile at that, because it is so true. I heard of a father who took his children camping, and he sent word back home 30 minutes into his trip that teachers are crazy. Why in the world, he said, would a teacher take 30 children on a field trip all day. He took two of them on a trip for an hour and developed a serious twitching problem. And they were his own kids.

Unable to sleep late one night this week, I began thinking about all of this, and — in addition to some of the funny thoughts — remembered something on a serious note. I got to thinking on something I had written years ago. It was a piece based on the gospel of John, and not something I have shared in The LaGrange Daily News. I am reminded that in all of the hustle and bustle — even lack thereof in this time — that we are beginning to learn what it is that is most important. We’ve been able to stack up our priorities up a little better than maybe ever before.

In the 60 chapter of the gospel of John, John takes us to a scene where the disciples come face to face with one of the Lord’s most piercing questions, kind of the way we have come face to face with a key question today. How the disciples answer the Lord’s question will be a defining moment in their lives. On a grassy hillside in Capernaum, the Lord asks, “Will you also go away?”

In other words: What are you going to do? It’s time for you to make a decision.

The reason the Lord turns to His disciples with that question is because hundreds of followers had just turned their backs on the Master and began their sad plights back down that grassy hillside. The crowd had followed for a while and were so enthusiastic and excited about the Lord and His teaching.

But things change.

The Lord’s demands are too great, and, when times get hard, they turn and go away. Where they go, we do not know exactly. We do know all that “going away” almost always leads to many long, winding worldly roads that have no particular purpose.

As that crowd turns their backs on the Lord, Jesus — disappointment written on His face — asks that great question: “Will you also go away?”

Such a piercing question demands an answer, a response. It leaves no choice. Often it is answered not with the tongue but with the life a man lives. Too often the answer is that of the multitude: They turn away in search of something else.

The outspoken and sometimes rash apostle Peter must have fidgeted at the Lord’s question until he digs a hole in the ground with his foot. The question bothers him. It rings in his ears and his conscience, and he has no choice but to make a decision, right then. And he does.

“Lord, to whom shall we go?” he says with all the resoluteness he can muster, “You have the words of eternal life.”

Ah, there’s our pandemic-time answer. What a response. Peter has learned that even if he should search every crook and valley of the world, in the end he would not find anything as fulfilling, precious, meaningful, and saving as that which stands in front of him at that moment — the Lord Jesus.

Yes, friends, truly we have learned a great deal in the past two months, maybe more than we have ever learned before. We have learned some funny things, and some things serious. But of all the things that a pandemic can teach, I don’t expect anything could be more timely or paramount than this:

It has taught us that we need to set things in order. When we start rearranging, cleaning out, straightening, and re-evaluating, we might want to make sure we have put the Lord where He belongs — first.

That’s a greater lesson for us than learning that we hope school starts back for real soon, even though that’s pretty important, too.