Q: It seems, in the pandemic nightmare, the worst is over. Why am I afraid of returning to my life?
A: I asked this same question in a slightly different way during my weekly prayer-group meeting this morning. “Because of this Pandemic experience,” I confessed to the six prayer-warriors scattered around our sanctuary, “I’ve become a different kind of pastor. I’m a little nervous about returning to the pulpit and what that will look like.”
Weeks of deep intercession, seclusion, uncertainty and trials have woven a new thread into the rich tapestry of Christians like me. If you’re one of my herd you’ve sought the Lord more these last few weeks than any other time in your life. You’ve confronted some issues, maybe, and cleaned out some closets in both spiritual and natural realms. You’ve begun to think about the future, and not just your own pathways, but the journeys of nations. Some of us have met the Lord all over again—acknowledging his powerful ability to be the God who governs all life by his merciful heart. We’ve reintroduced ourselves to the One who holds the whole world in his hands...and can shake it if he wants to.
We seem to be facing a legion of fears these days: fear that a Covid-19 vaccine will never be found (and what then?); fear of a resurgent, wave of sickness even worse than the one we’ve lived through; fear of poverty and lack of provision, should we never return to work; fear of death. Yet as Christians, we are asked to believe what the Bible says no matter what is happening. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4, NASB.) Easier said than done. While we may understand that fear does not come from God, it still remains a stalking, tormenting, constant presence that works to undermine our faith right now. Rest assured, God has extended his grace upon us as we move ahead even so. Our faith is, and always has been, an action word. Faith doesn’t hide and tremble in fear. Faith takes a step in the darkness. God is our light and his word illuminates our path.
The biggest fear we face now is “what if?” Unfortunately, we disguise our fears and worries as preparation and wisdom. We imagine dire scenarios and make excuses: “I’m only thinking the worst so I’m ready for whatever happens,” we quip. Nonsense. We’re circling the toilet bowl, waiting for the other shoe to fall and flush us; obsessing on negativity and the unbelief that God can’t or won’t come through for us. We elevate ourselves to the position of rescuer and leave the Savior on the side-lines.
God is looking for children who trust him with their lives. These are the moments our courage must come forth as we take steps to become a people truly led by the Holy Spirit. We’ve talked about this...the idea of a spirit-led life...but now we must live it. We ask God for his wisdom, which he has promised to give us in heaps: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him,” (James 1:5.) Then, we move forward, hand in hand, into the new era God has waiting for us. We inch along in the confidence that we’ve received his wisdom for our daily decisions and we hear his voice as we turn to the right or to the left; navigating our new terrain.
Join me as we courageously get back to our lives, our churches, our jobs, our world. With God, all things are possible.