“Whales and Toilet Paper” – COVID Lockdown Devotion, Day 5

Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s devotional is a bit later, partly because my family and I managed to “social distance” (whoever thought this would be a verbal phrase we all understand?) on the road today – in the van, going through the In-N-Out drive through, and then at the tidepools.  It was a great break for mom and the kids after most of a week at home indoors.  Our time out sparked a few thoughts that might be of encouragement (even in a dubious way) as your day winds down:

The tidepools are such a great place to enjoy God’s creation, including innumerable hermit crabs, the larger crabs we tried to catch without success (I’m too chicken to just pick one up), starfish (those were cool!), and even whales off at a distance.  None of these creatures realizes there’s a COVID crisis underway.  None of them care.  None of them should care.  It’s worth remembering, as our attention becomes laser-focused on present difficulties, that life goes on beyond the ravages of a microscopic pathogen we can’t even see.  I’m struck by the utter dependence of animals on their Creator, both to provide moment-by-moment, and to sustain the system he created on which their existence rests.  The whales need God to be God.  And yet, is it any different for us?  We too need God to be God.  Unlike the animals, we’re just tempted to deny it.  Here’s a somewhat lengthy quotation from Psalm 104:19-31, 33 (NASB) that seems apropos tonight: 

“He [the LORD] made the moon for the seasons; the sun knows the place of its setting.  You appoint darkness and it becomes night, in which all the beasts of the forest prowl about.  The young lions roar after their prey and seek their food from God.  When the sun rises they withdraw and lie down in their dens.  Man goes forth to his work and to his labor until evening.  O LORD, how many are Your works!  In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions.  There is the sea, great and broad, in which are swarms without number, animals both small and great.  There the ships move along, and Leviathan, which You have formed to sport in it.  They all wait for You to give them their food in due season.  You give to them, they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.  You hide Your face, they are dismayed; You take away their spirit, they expire and return to their dust.  You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the ground.  Let the glory of the LORD endure forever; Let the LORD be glad in His works…I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.”  

Driving back, we stopped at six different stores looking for toilet paper.  Care to guess how much we found?  You got it…not a square!  Now, don’t panic on our behalf.  We’re not in dire need just yet.  But, isn’t there a sense in which the nationwide run on toilet paper is just the littlest bit humorous?  Toilet paper…really!  There’s no good, rational reason I can think of why the stores should be empty of toilet paper…and yet they are.  Our nation’s toilet paper supply is perhaps the most obvious casualty of self-exalting fear and its pernicious effects.  No, I’m truly not judging you if your garage is half-full of the stuff.  It just means you have plenty to share with your neighbor – which may be crucial until the stores restock.  Still, I wonder if the toilet-paper phenomenon isn’t God letting our collective foolishness as sinful humans become patently obvious.  Like the builders of Babel – whose presumption God spoiled in a moment by confusing their languages (Genesis 11:1-9) – our pride has been exposed by toilet paper of all things!

Here’s the grace of being exposed for fools.  We don’t have to stay foolish!  Instead, we can remember that it is God who provides, and God whose holiness rightly demands our worship.  We can remember and enjoy Psalm 104.  We can say with the Psalmist: I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.” 

May you enjoy such a song tomorrow while you hear God’s Word prayed and preached…virtually.  But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever he pleases (Psalm 115:3, NASB).

In Christ,


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