What a beautiful morning!
The sun is just starting to rise and push its way through the clouds. It is about 75 degrees already, and the surf and sand looks like vibrant shades of silvery-gray.
You may have already figured out that I am not writing from the Ozark Scenic Riverways this morning. Heidi and I are in Panama City Beach, Florida.
This is a trip we had planned before the coronavirus pandemic, and it is one we almost cancelled first due to the virus restrictions and secondly due to traveling after the post election results.
We decided to go for it. First of all because though there is a need to be careful and cautious, we, as people, must continue to live our lives. Secondly, since we were leaving before the outcome of the election, we were concerned about our safety while traveling in a volatile climate. We decided that we would not let fear stop us from an experience we had previously planned.
So here we are! We are in Panama City Beach, and we are so glad we came.
Our seventh-story balcony view has given us a renewed perspective of the awesomeness and vastness of God’s creation.
I love to stare out into the horizon where the water and sky meet. If you stare at the horizon long enough, your mind begins to create an illusion that the water is beginning to take over the sky! If you stare at it long enough, you can become dizzy and disoriented.
I know what you are thinking, and I can already hear my mother’s voice in my head saying, “David stop doing that!”
Here’s my point; it is hard to get a good idea of what is really going on when you see the same thing, read the same thing and listen to the same thing constantly.
My article today is about the bigger picture. I am coming to the conclusion that what some of the news outlets are telling me concerning what is going on really is not what is going on.
I had recently read an article dealing with sin and the author asked this question, “Is there any source outside of the Bible that says this type of behavior is wrong?”
I have left out the behavior in question because when it comes to any wrong behavior or sin, the Bible is what identifies that behavior as wrong or in other words, it identifies that behavior as sin.
The word of God is the moral compass by which most of our laws and good behaviors derive from. The word of God is infallible; it has no errors.
There does not need to be anything written to uphold the position of the Bible and the reason is the Bible is not just another written piece of literature. The word of God is living and active, and it is sharper than any double-edged sword. It is able to penetrate through joints and marrow, and it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The word of God does not need another source to support its position because it stands alone through all history and eternity. In the beginning was the word the word was with God and the word was God. In the end, heaven and earth will pass away, but the word of God will always remain.
It has been almost a week since our journey started down to the Florida panhandle.
As we traveled our journey down south and would occasionally stop for gas or a bite to eat, this would be our conversation, “Let’s stop at this next exit.” “Don’t forget to put on your mask.” Only to get into the establishment we stopped at and have people staring at us!
News Flash! Contrary to the recent CNN report, it is not only Van Buren, Missouri, who has the majority of its citizens not wearing masks. From Memphis to Tupelo, Mississippi, all the way and including Panama City Beach, Florida, the majority of the people we have seen and talked to do not believe that the mask will help them in not spreading the virus or being exposed to the virus.
I am not saying that their information is correct.
My observation has been that the majority of the people do not believe a mask helps or hurts. That is just the bigger picture that I have witnessed.
Not wearing a mask for the most part has nothing to do with constitutional rights or political party alignment. People are not wearing masks where it is not required because they do not believe masks are effective. Especially in areas that economically survive on tourism, like Panama City, Florida, or Van Buren, Missouri.
Masks might be encouraged but not required. That was the part of the CNN news report on Van Buren that I feel was unfortunately left out.
It is very possible that the spike in our region concerning COVID cases has nothing to do with not wearing a mask. It could most certainly be that the virus began to spike after the whole world was in our region between Memorial Day and Labor Day and then school was back in session so more people were together.
We have to be safe, but we still have to live and survive.
Here is the big picture. Try to avoid the things that are meant to cause division.
We need each other. I try to wear my mask and social distance as much as I possibly can, but I also believe that this way of fighting the virus is about as effective as playing hide and go seek with a 4-year-old. Every time you close your eyes, count and say, “ready or not, here I come,” the precious child is under the dining room table surprised that you have found them again even though they have hid in the same spot for the last 20 rounds of the game.
The reason people are not wearing masks is not because they don’t care about others; people are not wearing masks because the information they have been given has been sketchy and full of errors.
We are almost a year into this thing, and we still do not know what is going on.
Here is where this article goes full circle. How I act is how I do my part. I may not have all the information I need, but I can treat others the way that I want to be treated.
I may not have all the facts, but I can be kind. We can not allow differences in opinion to divide our communities.
I try to remember that the person before me is more important than my opinion. The only place I draw the line is when it has to do with the error of respect and authority concerning God’s word.
However, I must defend my faith in the most loving way possible. My goal is to reveal the truth of God’s word not insult and humiliate people. This ideological division that we face will always be with us if we continue to distort facts and the truth to prove a point.
More important to all of us should be our character. I am more concerned with what I know is true about myself and knowing that God knows my heart before I even speak or type a word is more important than someone’s opinion of me.
We must always respond with love instead of reacting with unkind words and actions.
May we heed from the basic fundamentals of God’s word, Matthew 7:12, “In everything you do, be careful to treat others in the same way you’d want them to treat you, for that is the essence of all the teaching of the Law and the Prophets.”
Dave Truncone is the pastor of First Assembly of God Church in Van Buren.