March 18, 2020
2 Questions and a Response
Question 1 - Where is your trust?
We were about to leave for a quick trip last week to KY for our grandson's 2nd birthday when we got the call from our son. "Can you bring some toilet paper? We're all out here in KY." Cathi and I laughed to ourselves about those Kentuckians whose habits never fail to amuse us (our family lines come from there too) until she ran into a local Kroger to get some. The long lines and empty shelves had us wondering, "Why buy out all the toilet paper?" But, of course that was not the only thing that people were stocking up on. Bread, milk (I've never understood stocking up on milk. You can only drink so much before it goes bad.), frozen dinners, etc. Well, you've probably seen the stories, but it simply revealed the fact that pressure reveals what is on the inside. In other words, where is your trust? Comfort food, or food for comfort can be a source of pleasure, but there is fine line between deriving pleasure and sustenance from food and instinctively running to it in order to handle stress. Food can keep you alive, but it makes a lousy Savior.
I try to stay informed. It helps that I am married to a nurse who worked for an infectious disease doctor. While I have been able to anticipate some of the things that have happened, I find myself in a place that I am not used to. Life has changed very quickly in the last 7 days. Part of my responsibility to you is to be as forward thinking as I can. I need to look down the road and help prepare you/us for the days to come. Through the years I have attempted to do that. But right now, it's as if I am driving in the midst of a fog where I can only see a few feet in front of me and where I am desperately looking for the white line on the side of the road to make sure we don't go into the ditch. My temptation is not to run to the grocery store and steal some Charmin out of someone's cart, but to be as informed as possible. But why? Is having up to date information my attempt at being in control? Is being informed my trust? Is "knowing stuff" my god? Being informed can be responsible and wise, but information alone does not give rest to the soul.
If you find yourself running to snacks, to entertainment, to mindless activity, (to even worse things like porn and alcohol), to gorging on information, ask yourself this important question: How does my response to this situation reveal what my trust is in? When was the last time you sat down and read the Bible? Do you pray? Do you stop and take time to pray? We can sing that our trust is in the Lord, but let's not kid ourselves. Beloved, let this time help us come face to face with our greatest need. We need the Lord. Our response to this helps us see if we believe that.
Question 2 - What if you couldn't attend church?
There have been Sunday mornings, when on my way to church I've seen people riding their bikes, going out for a run, or doing other things because gathering as a church family is not an interest or priority to them. And I've wondered, "what would that be like?" What would it be like? What if you couldn't attend church? As long as gathering for church is an option, you could always set it aside for this weekend because, well, you can go next, right? The weather looks too great this weekend at the cabin, and we only get so many of these in Michigan, right? The kid's tournament is a pretty big deal, and the team says, they really need my kid to play, right? The sale at the Eastern Market only happens this time of year, and I'm not a legalist, right? This landscaping project or home remodeling project is taking longer than I thought, and I would really just like to get it done, right? We all know the reasons that we have, but what if you couldn't attend? There are many nice things that we can pursue in this short life of ours, but nice things do not replace ultimate things. As followers of Christ, our gathering together as the people of God is an ultimate thing because it points us to the ultimate gathering that we will have with God.
Cathi and I walked out of the church building Sunday morning after the live stream. It was odd--very odd. I suspect that for many of you, this quarantine from church has already been too long. May our inability to gather together grow our longing to be together, sweeten our desire for fellowship, and help us treasure what we've had, but perhaps have not appreciated as we should.
The Elders met for several hours Monday night, by means of a video conference call. We were so encouraged to be able to share stories of how you have responded. Small groups gathered this past Sunday morning, ate breakfast together, prayed together, and watched the live stream together. A couple of ABFs conducted their classes through Zoom or Facebook Live, and more are planning on going online this week. People were checking in on one another, and volunteers were coming forward to help with needs, as they arise. I must admit that I am not surprised. I think that most of you get it.
We cannot anticipate everything that is going to happen, so we are committed to responding as needed to the challenges and opportunities before us. In view of having to cancel so many things, we have started a daily video devotional that will go through the Psalms. You can click here for today's version of it. Tonight, I am going to live stream again. I am going to teach a Wednesday night study on the Trinity from 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM. It will be live only. There may be some other things we do, but for now, we want to care well for you by helping you set your mind and affections on things above and help one another look more like Jesus, even as we help one another get home.
Federal and State press conferences reveal that there are more questions than answers for this Coronavirus. As followers of Christ, our answers are always bigger than the questions. That's a sweet thing because Jesus is the heart of it all.
Grace and peace,
Sunday's Text: Acts 20:25-27