Hazelwood – What am I missing?
Depending on how you count, we are somewhere around eight weeks into this new “normal.” Exactly how many days it has been doesn’t matter as much as how we are coping with the sometimes radical changes in our lifestyle that the pandemic has brought.
When we gather with our on-line groups, what is the direction of the conversation? What sort of questions do people ask? I suspect most people ask about the past with questions like: “How are you doing? How has your daily routine changed? Are you busier now, or looking for things to do?” I did it myself at the opening of last week’s service when I asked you all, “How are you coping? What do you miss the most about your previous routine?”
It’s so much easier to talk about the past and the present, particularly when the future is uncertain. If you think about it, uncertainty of the future is not unique to our current circumstances, it’s a constant. No one on earth can predict what will happen next.
Are you feeling anxious about the future?
We needn’t be. In Isaiah 41:10, we read, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Perhaps you’re asking, “Where is God in all this?” From Genesis to Revelation we find a clear message that the Lord is with us and we need not be afraid. “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Genesis 15:1 (NIV). Then in Revelation 2:10 (NIV) we read, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.”
How do we know that God is here with us throughout these difficult times? God is here when a neighbour cuts a freshly cooked pork roast in half and delivers it to your door. God is here when your grandchild sends you a hand drawn “I love you” card. God is here when a stranger stops to admire your garden rather than walking by. God is here when you help someone else. God will always be here with us and he will carry us through – just as he did for the Israelites during their journey to the Promised Land.
“This is what the Lord says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43: 16-19 (NIV)
“Forget the former things...I am doing a new thing...” I have no doubt we are all doing new things right now. It might be fun to write a list of what you like most about what’s happening right now? Here are my top five:
- I love the fact that there is definitely less traffic when I have to go out;
- I enjoy having the time to try new recipes;
- I love going to meetings via the internet – they seem to be more effective and it saves driving time;
- I enjoy seeing more of my neighbours out walking, and that they slow down to wave and say hello; and
- It feels good to imagine the future and anticipate that perhaps the return to “normal” life will include a world where more people look beyond themselves and seek Jesus.
Might I suggest we use the past for two things only: as a source of wonderful memories, and as a learning vehicle. Do not dwell there; Jesus himself reminds us that we cannot plow a straight row by looking behind us. Neither should we be so afraid of what might come, that we are unwilling to move forward.
We still have some time before our journey through the “Wilderness of COVID 19” is complete. How much time? Let’s just say it could be the Biblical 40 days. In the meantime, it might be a good idea to take to heart the advice that Paul offered to the church in Philippi: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)
Keep Calm, Love One Another, and Carry On!