29 September – Major Michael Harris, Petersfield Salvation Army

Don’t Panic!

Recent events have reminded me of Corporal Jones’ famous catchphrase.

A recent unexpected death saw me return to West Yorkshire to conduct a funeral. I was able to take a couple of extra days and spend some precious time with my family while I was there. Had the timing been slightly different, I might have had to re-consider the wisdom of making the journey – or at least, the wisdom of driving. As it happened, I was already there and had refilled the fuel tank before the first reports of interrupted supply and subsequent queueing began. It seems unbelievable that not too far away from here, families were filmed fighting on a petrol forecourt.

It has been slightly surreal that there have been attempts to address the situation by assuring us that there is sufficient supply as long as we continue to buy as usual; that line didn’t work with pasta, flour, cleaning materials or toilet rolls so why would fuel be any different? As I returned down the M1, I witnessed service stations with no petrol and others with the queue stretching down the slipway and almost into the main carriageway. There has not (at this point) been any special provision for the continued supply to the emergency services and other critical workers.

I am conscious that lead-times mean that the story may have moved on by the time this is printed. Certainly, the consequences will be bigger if unresolved but at least the ability to stockpile fuel logically means that panic buying has to stop at some point.

In his letter to the Church at Philippi, Paul tells his readers not to panic, not to be ruled by anxiety but to take their concerns to God.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life.

Philippians: chapter 4 verses 6 and 7 (The Message)