241. The COVID-19 Plague and the Woodpecker

As are most of you, I am sequestered in my home with my wife and one son for the duration of the plague.

For forty-six years since the events that followed the death of my firstborn son, Jason, I have started each day with a couple of hours of reflection and prayer. Long ago, I learned that if I skip this step, my day implodes.

Today is no exception. I rose with the sun, made coffee, and sat down in my morning chair overlooking the emerald 18th fairway of the Cress Creek golf course, about two hundred yards from the white tees. I opened Our Daily Bread app to today’s devotional written by Patricia Raybon, eager to begin.

A hammering noise brought me to my feet. It sounded mechanical and expensive. The noise was coming from my gas fireplace, which had not been used for years because the pilot light alone cost $25 a month in propane. The noise stopped, and as I turned away it started again. It reminded me of the hammering of a power drill when it reaches its targeted torque. It repeated itself each time I turned away, until I realized it was coming from the exhaust housing on the roof. So I went on the deck to look. Nothing. After several repetitions, I spotted a woodpecker atop the housing. It flew over the peak and out of sight, so I returned to my reading.

Today’s ODB Bible passage quotes Jesus at the Last Supper in John chapter 15 verses 5 to 8: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

Then the hammering returned and I burst out onto the deck and saw the woodpecker as he fled out of sight. I was grinning.

What are you telling me, today, Lord? You remind me that You have inspired me to become a writer who honors You without fear in a world that has rejected You in every conceivable way. Everything You have said in Your Word—they call it the Bible—they have mocked. For twenty years and after writing seven novels and 240 posts on this Raising Up Pharaoh website, I now find this mocking world around me enervated by their fear of death by the COVID-19 plague.

The title of the novel series and this blog is “Raising Up Pharaoh.” Why have I used that name, and where did it come from? It is God’s words to a rebellious Egyptian Pharaoh in Exodus chapter 9, starting with verse 15: “For by now I could have stretched out and struck your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

Movies have been made about this showdown between God and Pharaoh and the many plagues that finally drove Pharaoh to let the captives go, then relapse and try to destroy them and be himself destroyed.

Is COVID-19 one of these plagues or the last one, which was never unleashed, where today’s global civilization is wiped off the earth? Are the sins of today’s world any worse than the sins of Egypt on that day, or are they worse? Think about it. And if you come to your senses while sequestered with time to think, ask God’s forgiveness. Rather than fighting Him, worship Him with those of us who accept the Message of the Cross and the redeeming blood of His risen Son Jesus.

Thanks for the woodpecker, Father.

And thank you, Readers,

R. E. J. Burke

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