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Headless Chickens

March 23, 2020
by Rod Marshall   —   Audio controls are below the devotional to listen to this devotional or to hymn music while you read

John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (ESV)

The current pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a virus shaped like a spherical crown (corona) with protrusions. It has taken such a grip of so many countries that it will be months before new vaccines or crowd immunity stops it in its tracks.

As I went shopping recently, I remarked to Caroline by text at the time, "Pile of chicken heads outside shops over town" — derived from "running around like a headless chicken", a simile for panic and irrational actions. There were women crashing their trolleys into each other to be first into queues, and rows of empty shelves for paper products, meat, bread, etc. It was totally panic buying, apparently as contagious as the virus itself.

In the 1980s, I flew on Ugandan Airlines with some Kenyan high-level diplomats. The airline "lost" some of the passengers' tickets in order to get these interlopers onto the plane. God overruled, so I was the one and only exception to have a valid ticket after being previously chucked off the flight. On board, it was my first experience of rampant fear. I could literally see and smell the passengers' fear of the diplomatic entourage and hangers on. They recognized the capacity of dangerous power held by these elite men for harm or good. At the time, the experience of guns, travelling through check points, and so on, was an insight into my soft, sheltered, presumptive upbringing in the United Kingdom, and one that is seared into my memory.

My recent experience in the supermarket reminded me of that time. Anyone who has lived in an area where the rule of law is held by those with the guns will know what I mean. To get by, one has to learn forbearance, grace, expediency, quickness of thought, and a sharp eye to be aware of what is going on around one.

So here I am, writing in not a little disbelief that the combative presumption and selfishness of brute force and its concomitant fear has come to where I live in the safety of England. Amazing, dumbfounding, incomprehensible, but there it is: fear and panic abounds — for some who have no rock to stand on.

It was just what I needed, however, to wake me up from my lethargy. My life is held in God's hands, just as it was in Uganda. Life then was a daily challenge to get through without illness or suffering. Until these days, because I was content, I prayed when I felt like it, when I was ready to sit down with God, when I found the time to be at peace to hear from God.

Conversely, God watches over us all the time. I know that and I believe that. This crisis challenges me: I talk to God all the time, but where is my heart devotion? Do I trust in God more wholeheartedly now than I did back then when the need was more evident? I should do so, for I know that I am in His safe hands whatever the outcome, despite the world's distractions.

Who can separate us from the love of God and His gift of peace? Pray with me:

Prayer: Lord, here I am again before Your throne. Please hear my prayer and let Your light shine within. I am truly thankful for Your abiding presence which brings peace in the midst of turmoil. Forgive a wayward heart that is all too often focused on the world's experience, rather than on the One who is the author of life and the safe-keeper of my soul. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.


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Listen while you read: "Pass Me Not O Gentle Saviour" (Lyrics)

About the author:

Rod Marshall <roderickmarshall@yahoo.com>
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you.


    Amen, Rod. Things here in the States are no different.


    Thanks, Rod, for sharing this encouragement. It’s a frustrating time.


    Well said Rod.
    Keep safe during these trying times.


    Dear Rod,
    Thank you for sharing so honestly. Blessings.


    Thank you for continuing to share your understanding and walk with God today, Rod.


    Rod: this devotional is most enlightening to one who has never experienced the events in which you were present. Thanks for answering God’s call to share.


    Thank you, Rod. In no matter which country or province we live, we need to remember to put our trust in God. We may not know His plans for us, but only have faith that he will provide.
    (BC)


    Dear Rod,
    Thank you for your post today. The verse really hit me “peace not as the world gives”. The world really cannot give us peace right now. We are so blessed to be able to turn to Jesus for his rest when we are burdened with anxiety.
    May God’s love and protection enfold you.


    Greetings Rod,
    Thanks for writing another devotional. Yes, all that is happening in our lives right now is in our Lord’s hands. He watches over us and His plan will see us through as we remain faithful to Him.
    Blessings for your strong faith.
    (B.C.)


    The same thing is going on here in Canada.
    But after a week of staying home and social distancing some are saying how much they appreciate the needs of others in many other countries.
    Perhaps God will use this to help those who lead comfortable lives to become more aware and compassionate about others’ situations.


    Good morning. I always love hearing and reading your devotionals. I have family living in England and I think about them often, during these times of covid-19. Me and my family are well and we had a computer visit of all of us.
    It felt so good to see and hear the family and how they are doing.
    They are well. God is good all the time and all the time God is Good.
    Praying for you and your family and all of my family in England.
    God’s blessings to you.
    (Texas)


    Dear Rod,
    Thanks for the timely devotional!
    I, like you, used to be lethargic in my prayer life until the unexpected fatal heart attack of my husband last year! Interesting, isn’t it, how God can use a traumatic experience to draw one closer to Himself! I have grown so much in my faith throughout this year and feel for those who have not found or turned to the ‘Rock’. “O Safe to the Rock that is Higher than I.” Thank the Lord that no one NOR any virus can separate us from the love of God! Thanks for reminding us and praying for His Light to shine within!


    Dear Brother Rod,
    Thank you for your intelligent, cogent, and comforting devotional.
    It’s what I needed. It’s what we all needed.
    In North America we have never had a war or prolonged disaster on our shores. All our fights are done in other lands. We only ‘hear’ about pestilence, starvation, deprivation – well, it has arrived. It is real and no one is not affected in some real way.
    Fear is rising by the day. It is palpable in the streets and stores.
    Our church is shuttered, but we now join to worship and absorb solid teaching electronically.
    Rod, May you, your family, your fellow churchmen be comforted and cared for by the Great I Am.
    Is it the End or just birth pangs? Who knows? Does it matter?
    Unprecedented opportunity to share God’s Love. To receive God’s love.
    Bless you brother. You are a light.


    Good Afternoon Rod and Blessings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
    We read your Devotional with much interest and agreement. Things in Canada are much the same as what’s happening in the U.K.
    We are experiencing a tremendous flood of “Me people” that is people, particularly in the Teen and early Twenties groups who are completely Ignoring the directives to self-quarantine or self-isolate after returning from travels to highly infected countries. People have been told not to congregate in large groups or participate in close physical contact.
    If approached by the Authorities, they come out with tirades of abuse, saying “If we want to party, we’re going to party!” Then when they become unwell, they are the first to head for the Hospitals demanding instant care!
    The love of Christ and your fellow persons has sadly weakened in this “I want it, and I’ll have it!” world. I can almost see Christ weeping.
    SHALOM
    (Ontario, Canada)


    Thank you again Rod for sharing your devotional insights with us. Reread it this morning and was blessed again. Blessings.


    You said is all, Rod. Our town has a small population of what I thought were reasonable people. The situation here is similar to what you describe…rural Texas which is composed of mostly God-fearing people seems to have become the playground for selfishness and as you say, “concomitant fear.” At our last gathering of our entire family our son said, “My generation and our children’s generation have been untouched by anything like the Depression or World War II. Our greatest tragedies have been Vietnam and 9/11 of which none of us had a personal involvement. Wonder what the reaction will be because something will happen.” And, it is not our grandchildren who mostly do not seem to be running to the store. far from it, many of them do not understand the seriousness of the situation. It is the 40 somethings here and even up to 60s who seem to have gone mad.
    Thank you for expressing my thoughts exactly. In the long run what we are promised (those who believe) in this life is salvation through Jesus Christ and that really is the only promise and the one that counts.
    Again, thank.

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