The world has grown quieter. Not silent – there are still cars in the roads, people in the offices, shoppers and cashiers in the stores.
But there are fewer on the roads, more staying home, a slower pace as we try as a community to navigate this crisis and keep distance from each other.
I’ve been spending much of my time at home, but also making the effort to get outside for some time each day. Just me and Koski, out in the fresh air. I’m naturally an introvert – I live inside my own thoughts much of the time. And the call to social distancing has only increased that natural tendency for me.
I’ll admit to you that I’ve spent much of the last several days swinging back and forth between feeling really panicked, and feeling amazingly calm. What starts the panic, for me, is that I begin to ask the questions we don’t (and won’t for several days or even weeks) have answers to yet: what will the fallout be – for me, for my congregants, for my family and friend? Will we be able to observe Holy Week this year? What about the trips I have planned in May and in July, will those go ahead?
I hate not knowing. I really, really hate it.
And when I begin to ask those questions, my heartbeat speeds up, my stomach grows tense, I veer towards some pretty negative emotions.
So what to do when those moments come?
A couple of weeks ago, I preached on the passage where Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by the Devil. And as I studied the passage in preparation, one of the things that struck me was that Jesus continually answered the Devil with scripture. And I made the point that we need to rely on God’s word during trying times. It was one of those things that sometimes happens with preaching: you say something in a sermon and it clings to you in the days afterward. You find yourself returning to that’s lesson or thought over and over. I had no idea then, what an important lesson this would be for me.
I had no idea then, what the next few weeks would bring.
So I want to give you a scripture to hang on to in these trying times – there are lots of them, and I encourage you to find the one (or ones!) that mean the most to you. You could treat it kind of like a scavenger hunt – hunting through the scripture for lines or verses that will strengthen you and calm you in these days. Gather them up like treasures. For they truly are.
In the meantime, here is one of mine:
‘For I know that plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.’Jeremiah 29:11
God plans a good future for us, one full of hope. I can’t tell you what that will look like. I can tell you it is in His hands. I can tell you to trust these words. (I can also tell you that part of how you can participate in bringing that future about is by being responsible, following the advice of the medical professionals and being kind to others!)
Let me leave you with some pictures from the outing Koski and I took today – down to the lakeshore for a long walk (during which we smiled at many other walkers and runners from a distance, and truly enjoyed being out for a walk together).