In these days what will we do with our fears about the future, our confusion over conflicting stories in the media, our worries about our families, our stress about the financial security in these uncertain times? It is easy to live in the illusion that we are in control, and then we are suddenly faced with adversity, a job loss, an illness, or a virus that changes that landscape of our lives.
If there is one thing that we have learned it is that we are not in control.
The good news is…We have a God who is!
When we learn to let go of the illusions that we hold onto so tightly, we may discover a deeper faith, a greater trust and find instead a deep encounter with Jesus
What is your story? We all have one. Of course, it is changing daily as the coronavirus makes its way across our world and we try to find ways to stop it.
I have a daughter living in New York City and found myself canceling my trip that I had planned this weekend to celebrate her birthday. We had tickets to a Broadway show and several gatherings planned to celebrate. I had been cooking all her favorite dishes to freeze and bring with me. I have not been for a visit in 2 ½ years. And then her teary phone call came with these words, “Mom, I just don’t think you should come. I don’t want you to take the risk with your history of respiratory issues and the city is changing every day.” And so….I canceled. I must respect her wishes, her discernment. As the week unfolded I saw she was right, but my heart is there, and she still travels on the subway to her nanny job. Her other job has ceased. Her voice students are cancelling. My brave girl....
My oldest daughter lives in Greenville, SC with her husband and two young daughters. They have finally just bought their first house. Her husband’s work depends on him going into the schools which have just been closed.The question lingers, how will this affect the income for this young family? Of course, the necessary closing of schools is affecting the nation in so many ways.
My mom is in a nursing home with severe Alzheimer’s disease. Visitation is now not allowed for her protection. I was actually sitting with her rubbing her neck in the large gathering room with the residents when the announcement came on the TV that the Louisiana Nursing Home Association was recommending no visitors. With her facility now on lockdown. I am left to pray for her and her medical providers. If you find yourself in that position, below is a link to a wonderful prayer for Medical Providers that I have been using to guide me. You will find the link below.
My husband is a worship leader at our church. With the no mass gathering mandate, we are all making adjustments to determine the best way to minister to the body of Christ.
I have friends who have had major loss of income already as I'm sure many of you are experienceing or expecting.
And so, what will be our response?
Well, unfortunately, I can tell you I have done a lot of stress eating!
All my favorites – cheese (Havarti with dill) and crackers, ice cream (Jamoca Almond Fudge is my favorite and Ken made a run for me), roasted pecans and peanut butter pretzels. So now you know some of my vices! Miraculously, I managed to resist my temptation to buy my favorite dark chocolate covered almonds in the grocery store yesterday. I almost caved in, but feared I would lose my place in the lines that were extending down the aisles at Trader Joes – a hidden blessing. I was also distracted by the women next to me who had lined her shopping cart with Bellini bottles! I wondered if she having a party? That didn't seem like a good idea. Was she just totally stressed out about not being able to get toilet paper? That shelf was empty. I had already checked. Don't you wish you had stock in toilet paper?...and hand sanitizer and bottled water? I thought maybe she needed a hug but... keep your distance. As my mind continued to wander I perused the carts in line. Most were filled to the brim. In Louisiana, we are clearly in hurricane coronavirus mode. But several stood in these long lines with just a bouquet of flowers and I wondered... In my distraction, the line had moved forward and it was no longer a possibility to get my dark chocolate covered almonds!
Ok, this really needs to stop!
In a much more productive, life-giving way - I have also prayed and searched the Scriptures for direction and wonderful verses of hope. Truly we are in a time of testing, faith, and perseverance. In these days we will come to know the reality of what or whom we truly trust.
What could we do with this change in our routines?
He is our peace in the storm!
He is our strength, our hope,
the One in whom we can place our trust.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast,
Because they trust in you. Isaiah 23:6
We must look for God at work within us and through us. As I write, I look out the window into my backyard and see the family of my backyard neighbors working in the yard together. I have never seen this!
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Cor. 10:5
I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4
There is real loss in the everyday life to which most of us have grown accustomed. Many of you are having to make hard choices and changes in the way you live your life. Anxiety, fear and stress are real issues that many of us are facing. It is difficult to live in the midst of so much that is unknown. We must learn to take our fears, our illusions, our anxiety and our suffering to the One who can give us hope and can lead us and help us persevere. I have been reading through the book of James in the last two months. What a great preparation for these days of testing and trial!
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
What we believe about God informs the way we live and the decisions we make.
When we cry out for Jesus, we cry out to the One who holds the answers to our questions because we are seeking the one thing needful. In the depths of our hearts we must know the character of God that alone will sustain us.
When I find myself in a season of being overwhelmed, stressed or in the depths of pain or loss, I need to be reminded of who it is that satisfies the deep longings of my soul. There is a beautiful reading and song that has helped to carry and sustain me through some of the most difficult seasons of my life in the past. It is called Give Me Jesus.
Focusing on the character of Christ settles my heart and it will settle yours.
He is Sovereign.
He holds the answers to all our questions, our fears, our hopes and our dreams.
Our hearts desire must be for Jesus. Our greatest delight must be found in Him.
Below is the link to the song and readings of Give Me Jesus that I offered in worship at the end of my teaching at our Restore Winter Gathering. The Readings come from the book Give Me Jesus by Anne Graham Lotz and the song is from Give Me Jesus by Fernando Ortego. I didn’t realize how timely these words would be for us in these days just a few weeks later.
Please listen below to these powerful words that proclaim the character, power and hope that we have in Jesus as Savior, Lord and King of Kings!
This song and reading is the cry of my heart.
I pray it will be yours.
Wash over us Lord Jesus and protect us in your mercy,
Cover us by your grace, and empower us to be vessels of your love.
In these days....Give Me Jesus!
Here are some of the resources mentioned above to help lead and encourage you in these days….
Resources: Give Me Jesus by Anne Graham Lotz, Fernando Oretego, Images Pinterest
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
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