Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. ~ Genesis 6:14
Our church is built like a boat. It has ribs just as the ark likely had ribs along the inside of its keel. We all need to be the tar to keep our boat afloat. This storm has caused us to suffer and so far, we have survived it. But there will be more storms, possibly more severe storms, in our future. Waterproof the boat with our attendance and service.
When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. ~ Matthew 14:32 +T+
These past weeks have been a trying time. We have been practicing the social distancing that has been recommended by our governments, working through the closing of our schools, and some have had their work stopped totally and are out of work. These are just a few of the drastic changes we have been enduring in these first few months of the year. One of the more difficult decisions I have been a part of through this virus ordeal has been the curtailment of church services. Initially, I told Pastor Terrill that it was not going to dictate a change in our worship schedule. But it was bigger than I expected, more serious than we wanted. It was a blow to the psyche of all of us.
One of the memories of mine that was triggered by all of this was the loss of my church life, indeed my church family, when I was hospitalized in Fargo back in November-December of 2009. Every day was just like the day before without my church. I let it control and dictate how I acted and reacted to the day-to-day aspects of life. So when I was given a weekend pass to go home after almost a month in the hospital, I relished it with enthusiasm that it might afford me the opportunity to attend church. My wife and daughter worked hard to get me ready for that church service the next day, after my first night at home in weeks. I was relegated to the use of a walker while having to wear a Bledsoe brace on my leg and an Aspen collar around my neck. While I hobbled into the sanctuary from the elevator, an ovation sounded from those in attendance. I have no recollection if the church was full or not, just that I heard the people. There had been a prayer service for my family and me, and the community, not too many days prior to that day I came back into the church. So this was possibly the reasoning behind the ovation; that people might have been hoping their prayers were being heard. I now know mine had been.
Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. ~ Matthew 8:23 +T+
When we have things taken from us, it hurts us more than if it was our decision to do something. We all have likely decided at one point or another to stay home from an event, quit a job, and to stay home from church. But it was our decision, not something that was forced upon us and not from inclement weather. This invisible virus has controlled our lives, probably more than most anything ever has. We have the ability to take back what is ours; our church life. Soon, we can take off the handcuffs of the virus constraints and go about our days as we would like them to be. The time is coming. As it is with so many other things, this too, shall pass. I have heard it said that when embarking on a long and difficult journey or task, to work to get half way, plus one step. Because when you are halfway plus a step, you are closer to the finish line than the starting point so it is farther to return than to go forward.
Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. ~ Luke 5:3 +T+
Let us take off the handcuffs. When the time comes, we need to embrace the return of our freedom of attending our church and do that with an enthusiasm we might show for that first game of the year, an opening night of a play, a first piano solo, and the overwhelming joy of the first time viewing your newborn child or grandchild. We should fill the church pews to overflowing. Raise the roof in exultation of the power and love of our Lord Jesus. Every time we see that next sunrise, we are one day closer to the end of this ordeal. We must endeavor to look for the good that bad times show us. Seek that silver lining in the dark clouds.
I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.~ Isaiah 61:10