I like to try and apply theology to actual life as much as possible. It disturbs me when these two things that are naturally and unavoidably related appear separated. Sermons and Bible studies should not serve as merely intellectual grist for the mental mill but guideposts and signposts in daily life. Failure to make this connection leads to an emaciated faith life.
That being said, theology is notoriously slippery in application, which is why it’s much easier to avoid application and just talk theory. But I’d rather be in the messy business of application – pulling back, rescinding my comments and issuing apologies as necessary when I’m proven wrong. That’s healthy theology in my opinion. Mistakes are unavoidable, including the mistake of not even trying!
This all comes together for my family and I today as we waited this afternoon to take Covid antigen tests. Though we were able to fly from the US back to Indonesia with nothing more than our full Covid vaccination record, in order to fly domestically from Jakarta to Medan we need to prove we don’t have Covid because we have opted not to get Covid booster shots. You need either proof of a booster shot or an antigen test, so a-testing we did go.
Our family philosophy prior to and during Covid is that we live our lives. Take reasonable precautions but don’t let fear dictate your decisions as much as possible. Remember God is ultimately in control of all things, without slipping into a careless or reckless ignoring of the brains God gave us. As such, we opted to travel during an uptick in the latest Covid variants. We chose to be with 18,000+ other Lutherans in Houston for the Youth Gathering. I spent time traveling to multiple congregations in two states. We didn’t exactly seclude ourselves from other human beings.
All of which meant we could easily have been exposed to Covid, if news reports about masses of new cases are truthful. Family members also at the Youth Gathering came down with Covid on their return. It’s a realilty. It’s not a reality we worry about as the variants continue to weaken in intensity even as they spread more readily. But it’s a reality that affects our travel.
If we test positive for Covid in Jakarta we have to quarantine for five days. That’s something we obviously want to avoid. But do we let our fear of possible quarantine and the costs and delays associated with it keep us from taking the opportunities God set before us this month?
Our answer was no. I believe each person or family has to prayerfully consider how they balance fear and caution in their lives. I wouldn’t fault someone for choosing differently, and I don’t fault us for choosing as we did. After all, is there not a God in heaven? Are we not all in his hands? And if God calls us and we follow, is He not capable of providing (Genesis 22)?
At the same time, lacking a verifiable promise of safety from God, we know we remain at risk. Not just with Covid but flying across the world and over immense quantities of ocean and potentially hostile countries. My prayer on each flight is one of thanks for God’s mercies and provision to this point, and a reminder to him (and me) that He Called us to serve him overseas, and then an assertion of my trust in his ability to keep us safe. From Covid. From malaria and dengue fever. From plane crashes. From myriad threats both seen and unseen each day.
Whether He chooses to do so in his divine wisdom is his call, not mine, and I acknowledge that as well. We will deal with whatever He either causes (his active will) or allows (his passive will) because nothing in all of creation happens outside his authority. That allows myself and my family to take risks that others would find ludicrous. It allows us to make sacrifices others might find unreasonable. And it also allows us to witness amazing providence that might easily get buried in the routines of life.
God is God. I am not. I live in that faith using all the gifts He provides for my life including his Word, his promises to me in baptism and at the Communion Table, as well as my brain. I have no desire to test God, but somehow each day I have to find the tension between resting in his will and exerting my God-given abilities to make good choices.
It’s certainly not a one-and-done sort of existence. But I find a certain peace in it by and large. I sometimes struggle with it more than other times. I’m certainly sinful and human. But I want to try and step out each day in God’s promises, and leave the results in his hands as much as possible.
We all tested negative today, thank God. We should be home tomorrow evening, God-willing. In all things and situations to God be the glory! That’s my applied theology for today. Now I need a nap. We may have been protected from Covid but jet lag is apparently going to be a real thing! Please keep the prayers coming, and thank you for sustaining us and our peace knowing we are being lifted up!