It’s Saturday evening, March 21st, 2020. We are closing out the first week of this coronavirus pandemic here in NYC. There are now things we can’t do like we are normally used to, like going to the movies, sitting in a diner, or even physically spending time with people. Sure we can order out, watch a movie at home, “Skype” and “Zoom” with people, but it’s not the same thing. Churches for the most part have even moved online as well, in the hopes of quelling what seems to be an ever-encroaching deadly virus. Time will tell if it works.
While some would say cancelling services demonstrates a lack of faith either in the Pastor or church body, it does in fact serve our neighbors, and not just the ones who sit in the pew with us. While it’s true that God does heal, it’s also true that God also allows. Please don’t ask me why. You certainly could use the logic of “why” to walk away from God, but that wouldn’t be my plan. I just know God is here, present in all of it. I know that he’s rescued me from so much, that if he decided to allow a virus to take my life, so be it.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I know God holds my future.
So what do I know in the midst of this virus, in the midst of all this tragedy?
I know Christ and him crucified.
What else is there to hope in?
People are hoping in food. They are hoping in water. They are hoping in cleaning supplies. They are hoping in guns and ammunition. They are hoping in toilet paper for some unknown reason. They are grasping for something to sustain them. To get them through to the other side of this crisis. They are hoping in themselves, that they’ve done enough, stored up enough, hunkered down enough to keep them safe during this trying time. I get that. After my heart attack, I’m hoping in the stents that hold the arteries of my heart open so I can keep living in the here and now.
Right now, so many voices are talking, telling us what the situation is and what it means for us. Some of those voices are liars, no different than the devil himself, telling us to trust in ourselves instead of something, someONE greater. Every one of the voices have a slant. They give you just enough truth twisted around a lie or missing information to bring you to place of worry, to bring you to a place of, “I’d better stock up on________ or else I’m dead.” I can’t deny that it’s been slowly boring into my own head. I didn’t want to worry, but I have to be honest, I’ve saved up a few things here and there, “just in case”.
It’s hard to rely on someone else, even God, in difficult times. Partly because of all those other voices, “guiding us”. But also because of our own voice that wants to join the chorus of others, begging for some assurance within ourselves.
I was on vacation in Florida with my wife last week, gleefully carefree of the onslaught of coronavirus mania on its way. Florida was pretty normal at that time. In fact, the last four days were picture perfect weather-wise, and I took advantage of each of those days going for a long swim in the hotel pool. I recall floating on my back at one point, letting the waves of others playing around me push me along. My body and head flat atop the water, ears just submerged under.
Have you ever done that? Do you know what you hear? Not a whole heck of a lot.
There were other people in the pool around me, and I could hear the whooshing of the water, but that was about it. I couldn’t pick up the laughter of children or the chattering of the people sitting poolside. At best it was a faint murmur. I imagined this is what sitting in a deprivation tank must feel like. The sounds of the world around you diffused by the liquid around my head and ears. It had been so long since I had gone swimming, I’d forgotten how peaceful it was to float about in that way. Nothing getting in. No voices or other noises. Just peace and quiet. I openly sighed in my peace, and I heard it, loudly and clearly. I said, “wow”, and again it was like hearing it in high definition. It never occurred to me before how clearly my own voice circumvented the same system that worked to drown out all the other noises. It almost felt like the sound came directly from my ears and not my vocal cords.
I don’t find a great deal of comfort in hearing my own voice with that kind of vividness and clarity, but it reminded me of how God speaks to us in His Word. Sometimes, it’s not so easy to find a place in the regular world that drowns out everything the way laying in a deprivation tank or a pool might. But if we can find that place, We can hear that high definition God speaking to us.
You will hear His Word say,
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:4-7
You will hear His Word say,
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” – Psalm 56:3-4
You will hear His Word say,
“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” – Psalm 33:20-22
And you will hear even more.
If you’re worried about not being able to find that place, as if it’s some requirement of yours to find the right frequency to tune into Him and hear Him above all the other noise, then fear not, because God is the one as Psalm 23 says, “who will make us lie down in green pastures and lead us beside still waters”
He will bring you to that place. He is the shepherd who guides you. He finds you when you’re lost. Rejoices when you’re back home. All because of Christ. All because of the work of his Son in whom our faith is in.
All because of Christ and him Crucified. All our sins are washed away. All our fears are cast at his feet. All our hopes are bound up in him.
You want to hear from that high definition God? You have in Christ and him crucified.
My prayer for you is that all the other noises be drowned out in this very difficult and trying time.
Peace be with you this day.