Escape for a Moment


“Ezekiel Saw the Wheel,” William H. Johnson, circa 1944-1945

Devotional for Thursday, March 26

This crisis in which we find ourselves seems so exhausting, I think, because it lurks somewhere in our minds all day. In my case, it’s as if I have an annoying tickle in my brain.

The tickle is chronic enough that I am a bit shocked when I realize I’ve been unaware of COVID-19’s effects for a brief time. That moment usually comes in the evening, when Connie and I have finished watching a movie or a favorite television show, or if I’ve been reading a book of fiction. (I’m in the middle of a Louis L’Amour short story collection right now.) For just a little while, I get lost in whatever story is before me, but then I’m snapped back to reality.

As you might expect, I spend a lot of time in the Bible, but the tickle doesn’t usually go away during those times. The lessons of Scripture are so applicable to this viral outbreak and our fears that I cannot help but place the verses in our current context. And I am grateful for the answers the Bible gives regarding how to live in such times.

There is some “escapist” literature in the Bible, however, and I want to encourage you to find it. I’m going to point out a favorite one of mineā€”in fact, it’s so out of this world that some people avoid it. I prefer to relish it.

To get the full picture, you’ll need to read at least the first three chapters of Ezekiel, although you will miss much if you stop there. This essentially is the story of a prophet being called to his work, but in a most unusual way. If you’ve read much science fiction, the story may seem from that genre, although we are to understand it as a symbol-filled vision of God, who cannot adequately be described with words.

In Ezekiel’s vision, there are angels in the sky, steering what look like wheels within wheels, carrying above them what Ezekiel describes as a throne. And then there is the vision of the one upon it:

And above the dome over their heads there was something like a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was something that seemed like a human form. Upward from what appeared like the loins I saw something like gleaming amber, something that looked like fire enclosed all around; and downward from what looked like the loins I saw something that looked like fire, and there was a splendor all around. Like the bow in a cloud on a rainy day, such was the appearance of the splendor all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.

When I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of someone speaking (Ezekiel 1:26-28).

There’s so much more in the Book of Ezekiel. I’m simply trying to encourage you to take a little time apart from the world today. Read it. Get lost in it. There’s nothing wrong with a mental break from our day-to-day concerns.

I’m also curious what Bible stories you might consider escapist. By that, I mean you get so caught up in them you forget everything else for a time. Feel free to post your favorites in the comments section.

Lord, we thank you for the power of your word: its power to teach, its power to comfort, its power to enliven our imaginations. Amen.