Hopefully reading

Ever since the coronavirus officially entered Indiana, the state I live in, I’ve been reading books that had a post-apocalyptic and/or world spreading virus theme. For instance, I’m a little under 200 pages left in Stephen King’s “The Stand.”

At first, I thought I was reading it out of sheer morbid obsession. Reading a book about 99.4 percent of the world dying from a super flu while the actual world is living through a pandemic with flu-like symptoms. But then I got to page 904. For those that don’t know, “The Stand” starts with a super flu that kills off most of the population. The survivors are pitted in a battle between God and Satan. The prophet that God has chosen to lead His people is Mother Abagail. Spoiler Alert: She instructs some people to travel to the heart of evil, Las Vegas, and stand up to Satan’s prophet, Randall Flagg.

Here’s the end of Mother Abagail’s instructions. “But he is in Las Vegas, and you must go there, and it is there that you will make your stand. You will go, and you will not falter, because you will have the Everlasting Arm of the Lord God of Hosts to lean on. Yes. With God’s help you will stand.”

Now, only one of those chosen four were religious. The other three were skeptical at best, but they all believed in Mother Abagail. And Mother Abagail believed and trusted God.
I’m sure it’s no coincidence that I’ll be finishing the book this weekend. For those that have lost track of the date/time (I know I have on several occasions), it’s Easter. For those that don’t know the specifics, here’s a brief rundown of events.

Beginning in the Bible, Matthew 26:47, Jesus was betrayed by Judas. He was arrested, taken to the high priest Caiaphas, accused of false crimes, condemned to death, mocked, beaten, and crucified. Here’s the thing, Jesus knew this was going to happen. He knew Judas would be the one to betray him and that he would be put to death. Knowing all of this, he didn’t fight the Sanhedrin physically or try to escape (I imagine he could’ve if he so decided).

Now, I’m not saying that the Bible and The Stand are equal in importance. If there was one text, I would advise reading it would be the Bible.

Both have a great moral story to them and teach a valuable lesson. In fact, in each text, it’s the same moral story. The moral is that if you trust in God and stand against evil, you will prevail. Even if your results aren’t what you desire, you’ll eventually prevail.

And that’s why I’m reading the Bible and The Stand. Not for the doom saying or the plagues or the death and destruction. Trust me, there’s a lot of that in each book.
But there’s also hope.

In this time, the Era of Corona, we could use some hope. That’s why Easter is such an important time for those that believe in God. Jesus died and in three days he was resurrected. If we trust in God and are faithful to His instructions, then we will also live again in Heaven. It is my hope that you find something to read that inspires hope. For me, I find hope in the Bible and fictional novels like The Stand.

I wish everyone has a safe and happy Easter. Remain faithful to God, trust in the Word, and do the only thing we can in this harrowing time.

Stand.

Cross to bear

Do you ever sit down in front of a task and just stare at it for an obsessively long period of time without actually beginning said task because you just don’t know where to begin? No? Yes? Jim where are you going with this weird line of questioning? Well, as you can tell from the very first sentence, that was me when I started writing this week’s Mastering the Craft. At first I wanted to write something Easter themed since this will hit The Pilot News on Saturday. This will release on my site on Good Friday. Then I thought that since this will appear in The Starke County Leader on the Thursday after Easter, I thought I’d write something of a compromise. So hopefully you enjoy this mix between the two.

Idioms are expressions whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meaning of its constituent elements. Thanks Dictionary.com for making that definition so easy to understand. You’ve all heard some examples, but do you really know what they mean? For instance:

• “Wag the dog” means to purposely divert attention from an important issue by focusing attention on a more unimportant issue.

• “Sticky end” means that someone dies in an unpleasant way. I would make a joke about death and Michigan, but it’s Easter so I’ll just move on.

• “Born on the wrong side of the blanket” means that a child is illegitimate and that his or her parents were not married at the time of the birth. 

• “Tall enough to hunt geese with a rake” means that a person is taller than a person of average height.

Some idioms, however, can be predicable. “At death’s door” means that they are dying or very sick. “Cheat death” is another one that pretty much means what it says, that a person narrowly escaped a major problem or accident and is still alive. 

Another idiom that comes to mind is “cross to bear.” This idiom means that the person with a “cross to bear” has a heavy burden of responsibility or a problem that they alone must cope with.

You probably know where I’m going with this.

We all face moments in our lives when we think that a problem is so great that we have to face it alone. Or maybe we are simply too prideful or ashamed so we don’t seek out help. That’s when we have a “cross to bear.” It’s not the problem that causes us to bear the cross however, we do that to ourselves. If you’re dealing with an overwhelming problem in your life and you don’t seek out help, that’s adding weight to that cross. 

I was watching Captain America: Civil War in preparation for Avengers: Endgame and T’Challa (Black Panther) is talking to Black Widow about politics and how two people in one room can accomplish more than a group of people. That’s when his father interrupts the conversation and says “Not if you’re moving a piano.”

The idiom refers to Jesus carrying the cross to Golgotha, the place where he was crucified. Jesus died for our sins. Sure, he could have chosen not to experience all of that pain, suffering, mocking, and abuse. But he endured it and paid the penalty for our sins. That penalty was his death. And he did it alone. 

“And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice,  ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (Which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’),” states Mark 15:34. Jesus is referencing Psalm 22 which is a prophecy about the agony of the Messiah’s death for the world’s sin. So Jesus knew that he would be temporarily separated from God the moment he took upon himself the sins of the world.

Jesus was alone at that moment so you wouldn’t have to bear your cross (your burden) by yourself. If you’re too ashamed or prideful to seek help from a person, then seek help from God. I mean, He’s always around and He knows what burdening you. 

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account,” reads Hebrews 4:12-13.

Happy Easter everyone, hopefully you learned a little more than just the meanings of idioms by reading this.