“‘Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.’
“Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.’”
– Joshua 3: 4-5
Politically speaking, former Prime Minister Hubert Alexander Ingraham and myself, though errant, have always had a good relationship. I had known him long before he entered politics and when he entered high office, nothing had changed. Although I did not call on him in his office, whenever there was something that the Lord laid on my heart, I would call him and share. He always accepted and appreciated. As a matter of fact, the time of my calling was seven in the morning or shortly thereafter.
Perhaps it could have been “like father, like daughter”, for my late father – Reverend R.E. Cooper Sr. – never hesitated to share with the late Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling what the Lord had told him, and he always accepted. As a matter of fact, the morning of his death, Sir Lynden was to visit him. My father never went into long speeches, but his words of admonition were strong and relevant not for only the time then, but time in the future.
So it was that when Member of Parliament Charles “Chuck” Virgil was murdered, on the eve of his funeral I was led to call Ingraham to share what the Lord had laid on my heart. I told him the Lord said that he must tell the people of The Bahamas that we had not passed this way before. He asked me where the scripture was found and I told him.
On the day of the funeral, I was not led to attend, even though I was a former member of Parliament and knew Virgil from early youth. I was in charge of the music department at C.W. Saunders High School and decided that I would have my class watch the funeral service and critique the music, especially the hymns that were sung. I brought my television from home so this could be done.
When Ingraham got up to speak, he began his tribute with the words, “Ye have not passed this way before.” Chills went down my back, but even more when he continued, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” He not only got the diagnosis, but he gave the cure.
Also, at one time I had some of the classes research Bahamian songwriters and musicians. I remember well one of the assignments was Blind Blake Higgs’ rendition of “Run Come See Jerusalem”, which told the horror of the 1929 hurricane. There were many deaths and losses and many of us who came up during the 40s and 50s would hear firsthand stories from our grandparents of that terrible storm which was likened to judgment day with emphasis on the fall of Jerusalem.
I know growing up through Hay Street, when we heard that hurricane was coming, and it always was during the harvesting of fruits, especially avocado pears, that we were excited because it was a time in the aftermath of the hurricane, we would have our crocus bags to go from place to place in the neighborhood, and perhaps beyond to gather pears. The streets would be like lakes and children would shout with glee as they floated on old car tires merrily, merrily down the stream for life to them was a dream!
But even though Dorian was on its way, who would have thought that it would bring the destruction it brought. Yes, as in times past, after hurricanes, windows and doors were broken, roofs damaged and destroyed, crops and animal lives lost… In recent times, the meteorological writing on the walls of our nation as previously experienced by Grand Bahama and Ragged Islands was a warning for the shape of things to come. Two major islands – as a matter of fact, two and three behind the capital – devastated to the extent that lives were uprooted to the capital and elsewhere, not to fathom the untold loss of lives. Only heaven will record the number of those that went down to their graves in the deep.
No Bahamas, we have not passed this way before, so it behooves us not to cast aspersions or blame, for little did the authorities – in their moments of having won an election that demolished the number of those that ruled for eons – see Dorian as a mighty weapon of mass destruction.
God of ancient times and all times has always placed in the hearts of leaders, the way forward in times of peril and sword. So it was with Joshua. The people of Israel were about to leave the land of bondage and cross the River Jordan to a new life and way of thinking. The new land had great potential as seen by Joshua’s spies’ report, and based upon that, the next morning Joshua and all the people of Israel got up early, left the camp at Acacia, and went to the Jordan where they camped while waiting to cross it.
Three days later the leaders went through the camp and told the people, “When you see the priests carrying the Covenant Box of the Lord your God, break camp and follow them. You have never been here before, so they will show you the way to go. But do not get near the Covenant Box; stay about half a mile behind it.”
Then Joshua told the people that it was the time for sanctification. “Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”
When God is about to bring you out of your dark and bitter experiences, it is a time for hearts, minds, souls and bodies to be immersed in the cleansing waters of renewal of hearts, minds, souls and bodies. It is no time for hostility, slander, casting blame and division, but a time of restoration of the people(s) and the land.
Hurricane Dorian cannot begin to compete with the destruction polarization has done to these beautiful islands of the seas. It has brought hate into families, the church, the schools, workplaces and even into nooks and crannies.
Since we have not passed this way before, it is the people’s time to sanctify themselves so that the Lord will do wonders among us to the amazement of the world.