Is it time to panic yet, Dad?…. No, Not Yet!

Large tree in a field

When I was a child, my siblings and I knew exactly what to do when we found ourselves in a situation outside our experience: we’d look to our Father… 

“Is it time to panic yet, Dad?”

“No Kate, not quite yet.  Don’t you worry, I will tell you when it is time to panic.” 

And we laugh, because of course this makes us feel safer.  Whether our family hike had been embraced by mist, or we were “cutting it fine” on the way to an airport, we relax and smile.   

Because my siblings and I all know, with 100 percent certainty, that my Dad will never ever tell us to panic.  Ever. 

Maybe I need to let you know that my Father is one of those very calm efficient medics.  Have you ever seen one in action?  It’s extremely impressive and I’d love to have these skills (although I suspect they are grown through challenges I’d rather not experience).…  .

… Quietly observing and gathering and analysing information.  Assessing the situation, mapping out a mental overview, keeping everyone’s best interests at heart. 

…. Quietly observing, assessing, observing, assessing and then finally, when the timing is just right, moving into action.  To calmly communicate decisive proportionate decisions and instructions that are a relief to follow. Because these tasks mean that I can have a role, that I can do something useful, something to help.  And that I can assist someone who knows what they’re doing!   

As we all know, this has been a unique week.  7 days ago, the threat of coronavirus felt relatively far away, and today (here in Ireland) the schools are closed in an attempt to halt community transmission and we are bracing ourselves for the oncoming storm.   

And because this week has been so outside my comfort zone, I’ve been regularly saying, “God, please tell me when it is time for me to panic” and  “What can I do now?”

And I listen and I smile and I relax.  Because of course our loving Father God will never ever tell us to panic.  Or give into fear.  Or take our eyes off His loving goodness and provision for us all, even if circumstances make this more difficult to discern. 

No, it’s not time to panic or fear.  It’s time to pay attention.  Time to make sure the external winds don’t distract us or drown out the gentle calm voice of our loving Heavenly Father as he directs our steps and our hearts.  It’s time to root ourselves ever deeper in God’s Word and to keep our eyes on the Lord.   

I mean, wouldn’t it be great if all our eyes followed every movement of the Holy Spirit?  Listen to this… 

“As the eyes of the servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of the mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he has mercy upon us” (Psalm 123:2 NRSV) 

So this is what I need to do.  I need to be the kind of person who keeps their eyes focussed on God’s movements.   

But what does this look like in practice, in reality, this week?  I’m still working this out.  And of course this will look different in your family, in your home, but for me this means:

  • Be-ing with Scripture and digging deep into my identity as God’s beloved daughter
  • watching the news just once a day (OK, maybe twice) and never when alone.  (And making myself unavailable to the unceasing online commentary that just.never.stops.)
  • getting outside to look at the sky and embracing silence wherever and whenever I find it today.

 But enough about me.  I know this week has been tough.  How are you doing?  How is the Lord inviting you to be this week, in order to be able to hear his voice above the news? 


Kate Cavanagh,
P.S.  And just to finish the story, I spent some time with my earthly Dad this week too.  As always, I asked him whether it is time to panic.  He laughed and dismissed my concern at the same time as quietly observing to check his grandchildren were washing their hands appropriately.  And then, when it was time to leave, he sent me away with an extra supply of soap 🙂 !   

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