If you have never watched the BBC classic television program “Dad’s Army,” do.
The stories center on a group of British home guard soldiers unfit for regular service, but perfect for comedy. Mr. Hitler never invaded the British Isles, but these lads were ready, or at least willing, if he tried.
My favorite character was an aged Edwardian trooper who had seen service in the colonies. When things went wrong, and only Lucille Ball ever had things go worse more frequently, he was given to shouting “Don’t! Panic!” while dashing about in panic.
Americans just now seem given to panic. We suspect more demons exist than Sam and Dean (see “Supernatural”) could handle. We are right. Elections don’t go our way and we know that the culture is rebooting to moral values we dislike. We are right. The fight is long and hard in our personal lives to become a person of integrity and often the battle seems hopeless. We are (mostly) right.
We are doomed.
Death faces us all. Nothing built by humankind will last and these are not the best of times.
Normally at this point I would point out other truths: Dad’s Army faced Hitler and his panzers, we face some Arab street teenagers with automatics. Dad’s Army lived through the Great Depression, we are on our iPhones whining about the Great Recession.
But forget that: times really are bad. Read Romans 1 and trace the degeneration of a culture. The poor have more food and material goods than ever, but the culture in which they live is uglier than at any time. Our leaders are a depressing lot: it is hard to spot a Churchill on the horizon. We have spread our noxious adverts demanding more consumption around the world. There is no place to escape the shadow of our mobile towers and the endless twittering.
“Don’t panic,” I say as my innards flip and my soul wonders if at long last the doom of the West is (once again upon us). I feel like embracing conspiracy theories to provide simple answers to my fears. Perhaps some political figure on a white horse will come and save us? Maybe if I buy the new iPhone it will solve all my problems?
Consumers consume in a panic. We party, because tomorrow we will die, but forget that after death comes the judgment.
But then God’s voice sounds: I Am. That is all God needs to say: His name. He is. He does not sleep. He does not rush about winning small fights, losing sight of the soul of an individual man. He acts deliberately, but never slowly. His are the actions of power and will unchecked by lack of any kinds.
Heaven has never panicked, not even at the Cross.
Suddenly, I am at rest. These are the best of times, look at the opportunities at HBU, and the worst of times, look at my soul, but they are still God’s times. It makes me feel like carrying on.
God’s word, the King’s word, to panicky me: “Be calm and carry on!”