This week I was going through old files and random stacks of “stuff,” doing my best to cull and organize (a boring but good social-distancing activity).

I came across a newspaper story and photo from a few years back that I had saved in my “possible things to write about” file.

A “human chain” had rescued a family caught in a dangerous riptide off the shore of a Florida beach. Someone on the beach noticed the family was in distress and yelled for help. Approximately 80 people quickly joined together in a group effort to save the family. They linked arms and formed a “chain” that stretched out far enough into the ocean to reach them. Officials later commented that if there had been a break anywhere in the chain, it would not have worked.

As I reread the article, I thought about all that’s going on right now with COVID-19, and an analogy occurred to me: A riptide is not only dangerous, but hard to spot in the ocean. You usually can’t tell it’s there until it’s too late and you find yourself caught in the strong current. Many beaches utilize red warning flags when there is a danger of riptides occurring.

The COVID-19 virus is like a riptide. You can’t see it. And, you don’t know if you are being exposed to it until it’s too late and you have contracted it. Unfortunately, there are no red flags that can warn us who may have the illness, but not showing symptoms yet. So paradoxically, we can help save each other by not coming together as the Florida beach-goers did, but by staying apart — social distancing.

This is uncharted territory and we are wandering in a new wilderness while facing a previously unknown foe. We don’t know exactly where this bogeyman is at any given moment, so we are told to be cautious and act as if he is everywhere, for the time being.

The thing is, we have to be able to count on each other to take this precaution seriously, because that’s the only way it will work. Just as the human chain wouldn’t have worked if even one “link” had broken, neither will social distancing work unless we all do it. Daily, we still see and hear about people blatantly ignoring the mandatory “shelter-in-place” order.

Friends, let us love one another by taking seriously the social distancing mandate, and come together by staying apart.

And instead of linking arms, let’s link together in prayer for each other, our city, our country and the world. This is a time for us to draw near to God. Let’s pray that He will comfort us and provide for all our needs, and give us strength and peace. We can rest assured that ultimately, He is in control.

“You alone are my God; my times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:14).

***

“We live within the shadow of the Almighty,

sheltered by the God who is above all gods.

This I declare, that he alone is my refuge, my place of safety;

he is my God and I am trusting him” (Psalm 91:1, 2).