Written and Shared by: Chaplain Chris Belfield
I readily admit that I have always had a fondness for instructions and checklists. I mean, they give direction and purpose and at the completion, there is peace and harmony within the cosmos. OK, maybe not that grandiose, but they do help us complete a task in a specified order. I remember as a youth building model airplanes from the included instructions. Somehow mine never came out looking like the box art. My first real accomplishment with instructions was in 1974 when I installed air shocks on my 1967 Plymouth Fury Commander. Bright yellow with a black hardtop, 4-speed, and 318 engine. It was so cool. So cool that a Maryland State Trooper noted that my rear bumper was eight inches too high. That took the air out of my shocks real-quick.
A few short years later I learned of the military’s love affair with checklists for almost every facet of life that can occur from sunup to sundown. However, to be fair – the checklists ensured not only the proper
functioning of multi-million-dollar systems, but also personnel safety. Think about the last time you were on a commercial aircraft and watched the crew go through their pre-flight and safety checklists. Checklists are good. Checklists are our friends.
So it is that my penchant for checklists has carried over to the present time. Last Fall was a perfect example. I had recounted in a previous encouragement all of the steps taken to prepare for the inevitable Winter and highly anticipated Spring. This included meticulous preparation of the veteran snowblower for another season of conquests and the lawn tractor for the Spring Beautification Program. And then reality reared its ugly head. Sure enough, the snowblower, after 18+ years of faithful service decided it was time for eternal rest as it was coming to the point of diminishing returns to keep it operational. The good news was we supported our local merchants with the purchase of a new blower, which got used a total of three times. Never fails. But there was the assurance that the preparations for Spring would prove fruitful. Wrong. Here comes reality again. The lawn tractor fired right up on Monday so that on Tuesday, I could vanquish the miscreant grass and weeds that detract from an otherwise beautiful landscape. Full of anticipation for a successful foray into the yard, I climbed aboard my trusty 18-year-old John Deere and engaged the starter. Nothing. Dead as the proverbial doornail (never quite understood that one.) After over an hour of multiple attempts and YouTube searches, nothing. Never fails. We spent the next three hours with a push mower taking care of the lawn. This unexpected physical exercise was instrumental in convincing us to once again support the economy with a new purchase. We
also supported our local economy through purchases of incredibly cold and delicious strawberry and pineapple sundaes. We ordered a new machine from the big box store with an orange roof but were surprised to learn that the new machine won’t arrive for 3-5 weeks due to an acute shortage as a result of COVID-19 limited production for the past year. Never fails.
Well, OK, checklists are great for planning but don't take into account the unexpected. That's a fact of life. Sixteen months ago, we were just at the threshold of learning about COVID-19 and what the possible impacts could be. Instructions and checklists were developed as we learned more each passing day. And along the way, we learned to not only adapt and carry on but in some circumstances, to even excel beyond our expectations. We did not give up or lose hope. And now we are eagerly anticipating the gradual changes that will permit us a return to a semblance of the normal activities that existed in 2019. We are so close, but not quite there yet. It reminds me of running track in high school. A distance runner knows how many laps are required to complete the event. The hardest lap is not the last lap, but the next-to-last lap because the desire is to just finish now. Here’s the insight from that experience: the end is in sight and just
requires the disciple that training has taught us to see this race through to the finish.
Our encouragement verse for this week is:
Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” May you be blessed by God's word.