I have to confess that the crisis we all find ourselves in was slow to impress itself on me. At first my greatest feeling was that of being inconvenienced as ministry events and activities were canceled one after another: basketball tournaments, youth trips and planned events. Our kids take it hard anytime an event is cancelled. It is not just the excitement and fun of the event itself, it is the promise of joy, communion and connection with others in a positive and affirming way. Things most of us take for granted and experience regularly, but which our boys rarely do. So, we worry about them.
We call, text and facetime to remind them of the community and love we share in Christ. Our house church will meet online for the weeks to come, but it’s just not the same. I feel like the best thing we have to offer our people is connection with us, each other, and with God. We are seeking the Lord as to how we may continue that connection in this crisis. When you think about about kids in jeopardy of going without food, or parents who cannot pay the rent if they don’t work, or families that don’t have the resources for online learning when school is closed… these are our people. Many of our folk lack the inner resources to connect with the support that is available. So we check in with our families by phone, we bring food to those who need it, and we provide emotional and spiritual support in different ways. When I delivered some food to some of our families this week I could tell from their faces that even the thought , gesture, or momentary connection had an impact. We just found out that one of our families is under quarantine, and one of our young men is sick. We have taken great pains to assure them that neither we, nor God, has forsaken them.
At the onset of this crisis I felt inconvenienced and irritated. But everyday the news gets worse and worse and sometimes I’m just plain scared. I wonder, “God, what are you doing?” When I allow myself to actually experience what is happening to us as a society… a society to which our people belong in spite of being on the fringes of it, that’s when I feel the confusion and fear. What is happening? What will happen to us as a society?
It’s a stark reminder to me that as a human being I am a member of human society, with all its flaws and shortcomings. But since I became a Christian many years ago I’ve considered myself in the world, but not of it. God’s kingdom is my first allegiance and association. So although I am as susceptible as anyone else in the world to contract this virus, and I’m certainly susceptible to the fear, uncertainty and anger at our situation, I try to remember who I am and Who I belong to. God tells me everything’s gonna be alright. The last time we met as a group for worship we were looking at the story of Lazarus in John 11. Mary and Martha had sent for Jesus because his friend Lazarus was deathly ill. Jesus took his time in coming and by the time he got there Lazarus had died. When Martha greeted him she said, “If only you had been here!” Jesus told her that everything would be alright. “Those who believe in me even though they die, shall live.”
As Christians we are supposed to have a different perspective on things than worldly society. Our faith is being put to the test. Do we trust God? As Jesus challenged Martha, do we believe? And what does that mean for us during this crisis? I remember when I ruptured my knee several years ago and I was laid up and couldn’t do anything. I was inconvenienced then, too. A part of me was afraid that I would not be able to return to my regular routine, life the way I knew it. But I eventually figured out that God wanted me to live in the moment and take what comes… to experience His presence, even in the midst of crisis. What is God saying to us as a world community? Slow down? Take care of each other? I’m in charge here? I don’t know. But I guess I have time to think about it. We all do.
Lisa and I are praying that God shows you grace and gives you comfort… for your family and loved ones, our country and society, for our world.