by:  Cris Corzine-McCloskey

I have never been more proud to live in Marion as I am right now. With Mayor Absher at the helm, it looks like we are starting to crawl out of our bunkers and get back to work. Safe and cautiously. Our Mayor has shown what it means to put his community before his politics. I applaud him because these are not easy decisions to make.

I only run a small business, and I am amazed at how much stress I feel trying to make prudent choices during this crisis. I can’t imagine what our elected officials must feel like. Even politics aren’t as polarizing as COVID. I’m saddened to see people so angry at each other, but I understand it. Fear makes people angry.

One side fears for our health; the other side fears economic collapse and government expansion. Both positions are legit. And everyone knows there are genuinely no good answers. So how does one lead when the only decisions you can make are bad ones?

That is the question I have been asking God. Since leading through COVID feels like walking on a tightrope through a minefield, I know I need divine help. My prayers have led me to look at a section of Scripture in the book of Joshua. It’s a story about when Joshua led the Israelite’s across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land.

Joshua had the Priests hoist the Ark of the Covenant (which represents the presence of God) high enough for the people to see it. Then he had the Priests walk about a half-mile in front of the people. He then told the Israelite’s to keep their eyes on the Ark and follow it, saying, “Then you will know which way to go since you have never been this way before.”

When I looked at that story, I began thinking about how close you would have to watch an object ½ mile in front of you. You wouldn’t be able to look down for a second, or else you would lose sight of it. While those not leading would only need to follow whoever was in front of them, the leaders would have had to keep the presence of God in their sights at all times, or they all would have lost their way.

Marion, this is how we safely walk a tightrope through a minefield. We keep our eyes fixed on God, and we don’t look away, because none of us have ever been this way before. This is especially important to those of us in leadership. And every home has someone in that position, even if you are only teaching your children to make chalk-art on the sidewalk, you are leading.

Folks, please give our elected officials, business owners, managers, and pastor’s, grace through this stressful time. We are all doing our best to try to navigate a course through stormy seas, and we need your support and prayers, not your criticism. I also ask you to give each other grace. It’s starting to feel like a WWW smack-down between the mask wearers versus the non-mask wearers, and each side is giving the other the stank eye in Home Depot. Remember, these are all your friends and neighbors, and we need each other right now, even when we disagree.

So, in closing, I want to share with all the leaders, especially Mayor Absher, the words God spoke to Joshua. “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people…Be strong and very courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

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