So, it’s been a year and some months of unrest and we’re all a bit tired and weary here. Our days come and go, each one dragging into the next and so much has happened to rock our world into a topsy turvy mode that some kind of peace is questionable for sure. Thankfully God’s peace has no question mark around it! It’s a different peace, isn’t it? It’s a peace that passes all understanding and holds fast even in the storm. Even in the chaos and in the losses of life.
God’s peace is our blessing! To experience it is to experience a calm, serene mind and joyful heart in the face of adversity and as His children, it’s our right and our authority to step into it and claim it. Peace is our victory in the difficult, our stability in the storm, our hope against the thick walls of impossible and our hug from God that all is well. Peace in our heart and soul will ward off the enemy quicker than any other weapon of warfare, simply because it places trust in our Lord and removes fear. It removes our desire to control, to fight, to worry, to counterattack for the last word. Peace is a peaceful mind and whispers ‘quiet’ to the soul even in hard places. It allows grace to all ~ to either change or not to change! Peace takes our hands off the control and allows our Sovereign God to reign and manage and heal and repair. He does the work and we just step into His peace while He does it.
Peace ~ such a blessing, and such a gift. Beautiful soul, step into it and walk in it as we progress along in this journey of life.
I wrote this last year but find it’s relevance today, as we’ve travelled down this pandemic road for a year and some months now and once again welcome signs are hung out and doors begin to open for business.
It’s a strange world we live in presently and just easing out of lockdown and shutdown and isolation, we’re a bit still in shock and recovery mode. Nerves are frayed and some are shattered. It’s a fine line to choose how to get back into the swing of things, still keeping all safety precautions and guidelines intact. Many opinions shed a different light on the subject and yeah, some say this whole pandemic thing could be just a conspiracy, a hoax and some form of government manipulation, but, the thing is, there’s some kind of a vicious Coronona virus bug creeping around out there, lurking in droplets of the affected, affecting the lungs and the breathing of the most vulnerable and it’s taking people down a hard road and sadly many to their death. Now, how it got here, no one knows for sure and why it’s here, no one knows for sure, but it seems it is what it is, and it is real. Ask our front line workers in the health care system who have experienced mental exhaustion and worked their fingers to the bone, administering oxygen to the needy and being there for the dying when family and friends couldn’t be. Or ask someone who actually came face to face with this monstrous bug and lived through its gruesome diagnosis and recovery! It’s not pleasant and we really don’t want it.
So, we’ve successfully managed phase 1 of opening slowly and here we go, still quite in recovery mode, but still very eager to enter phase 2 of opening. It’s all good! It’s delightful to see patios set up with open umbrellas welcoming visitors for dine out rather than take out. Some stores are hanging out welcome signs to invite the public in once again, to share in some in some old fashioned socialization. It’s also a relief to see their cleanliness and strict, safety precautions as they carefully follow guidelines laid out by the health care advisors and our government. Failure to follow them carefully will give this nasty bug a foot in the door to begin another wave of disaster. The vaccine is here to help but it’s so new, so different and so untested that many refuse it and maybe rightly so! Each one has to be their own keeper and listen carefully to their heart on such matters. It’s not our duty to force it one way or another but it is our duty to do our part to keep ourselves and others safe?
Yesterday, traffic was heavy and roads were busy with frantic people sharing their enthusiasm for places to visit and things to do. Three months of Isolation shut down and quarantine with an economic nosedive, have been pretty hard-hitting and worldwide closures, of shopping, travel, fine dining, and sports just too much for an affluent society and culture, such as ours to manage wisely!
Now, effective, places of worship can open their doors once again and yeah, we may have thought, Christians were under persecution! Well, we’re not, at least not yet! It’s wonderful isn’t it, to know that once again we can enter our buildings of worship, free from that fear for now.
So, church doors are open and meeting together is possible once again but let’s remember, it won’t be the same as it was before, because not everyone handles the isolation of a pandemic, the vaccination and a re-opening of shutdown in the same manner and on the same level. Greeters will greet, not with friendly smiles so much as with point-blank questions about temperatures, travel and contacts, as they hand out masks to some who might not want to oblige. Some might be turned away because of restrictions. Seating arrangements will be different and that favourite seat once so comfy, might not be there anymore. Some may forget social distancing and come rushing over for a hug, without a mask and some might be more cautious than their enthusiastic friends and family choosing to be illusive. Don’t take it personally.
So, when the doors are open, what’s expected of worshippers? Some think it’s too soon, while others think it should have happened a month ago. How do we balance out, our fears, our guilt, our own healing and our expectations on all fronts as well as refraining to let what others think, dictate our next move?
At such a time as this, and above all, beautiful soul, do what you feel is right for you! If you choose to enter into the heart of worship, take care to bring to mind the ‘soul’ reason for entering is to “worship”, not criticize or socialize. Physical distancing from others is an important part of our recovery phase 2 to keep others safe and …. let’s be kind, as we enter those worship doors to take our places, refraining to cast aspersions and judgemental eyes on the “No shows” to so quickly size them up.
Open worship doors may subject some to guilt, if for them, recovery is still quite raw and the timing isn’t quite right to participate. Let’s not judge and make enemies because some might not ride the tide as we do. Patience and friendship will do more for gathering the resistant than critical, cynical thinking!
COVID 19 is a real threat and maybe nerves are still locked up and fears are real and difficult to come down from after a year and some months of lockdown, isolation and quarantine. Remember, recovery takes time and everyone runs on their own healing timeline!
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and, a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
So, to keep it relevant for today and this hour, there is a time for each one to make their own decision on how to enter into phase 2 and move on in their own timeline of recovery that God has for them. Give them the freedom to be who they are without pressure to perform to higher expectations.
So you and I ~ Just when we think we’ve got our agendas all thought through and all planned out and all ready to put into action, our ears hear a still small voice and words from Isaiah 56: 8 saying,
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways.”
And so we think twice about that little voice ~ or do we? Do we consider it or brush it off and press forward anyway? Yeah God has spoken Truth into our aggressive souls and into our busy agendas and into our brazen and prideful thoughts once again. Yeah, He brings us back to the reality of His Sovereign rule over us and over all of our ways and yet we’re so quick to turn away and go about our business.
But wait, beautiful you, there’s more beautiful truth for your beautiful soul, found in verse 9. Don’t miss it! It’s so important for us to catch and tuck away into our hearts, for such a time as this.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
He knows so much more than our small, human minds can even begin to understand. Read on to refresh your memory of how He alone as Creator of heaven and earth, orchestrates the rain and snow to fall from the heavens to water the earth with refreshment and restore with bud and seed for the sower and bread for the eater. In the big picture, He’s got it all. What a brilliant mastermind holds our lives intact.
Tuck that heart knowledge into your pocket for a rainy day when all seems lost. Remember the rainy days might come with a price but they also come with a purpose. Oh, He cares so deeply! He really does! And His word will not return empty but will accomplish what He desires. He Himself, says so in Verse 11. His plan is one of compassion for His people! He has a purpose for His own and a desire to see that purpose fulfilled in our lives. He cares about us and our agendas! Let’s not leave Him on the shelf while we run off outside of His plan with stars in our eyes to make success happen. Let Him in alongside to plan your plan and where He takes you from there will be a refreshingly, beautiful place to be .
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush will grow the pine. Instead of briers, the myrtle tree will grow.”
A short phrase from an old, childhood fable! I’m sure you’re familiar with the age-old ‘kid’ story of Henny Penny when the acorn fell on her head? Oh my goodness, gracious, she was sure the sky was falling and quickly started off to let the King know of such a disaster about to happen! Along the way, she met up with friends and Ducky Lucky, Goosy Poesy, and Turkey Lurky all wished to join in on the journey to tell the King. It all went very well until, along the way, they met up with a friend who was not really a friend at all.
Foxy Loxy, was a sly guy, out for himself, who told them they were going in the wrong direction, then deceivingly led them off down a garden path, right into his den where they never were seen again. Some variations say that Henny Penny heard the rooster crow and escaped and quickly ran off since it was time to lay her morning egg. It’s a simple fable, for children’s ears, that quickly became a bedtime favourite for me and had long been forgotten in the recesses of my mind. The other day as I sat contemplating the present situation of certain disaster sitting on our doorsteps, Henny Penny’s words, “The Sky is Falling,” came to mind. With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting us hard between the eyes, it’s left the globe reeling in chaos! Thing is, it’s not a silly fable of an acorn hitting anyone on the head, but rather, it’s a dreadful reality in our very real day to day world, where a world we once knew as friendly, has become as a ferocious lion, turning on us, seeking whom it may devour, as it feels like the sky falls and crumbles in dreadful disorder at our feet, taking life with it.Yeah, we might truly feel, at such a time as this, the sky is falling with imminent disaster but what on the face of this virus-infested earth are we to do about it? Turns out there’s nothing we can do, except be heroes in our homes to keep others well. I get it that, we may have our own trauma, inside our COVID-19 social distancing, walls with many things churning in our minds. Close quarters, sometimes too close for comfort! Fear of disease, death, safety for our kids and our families coupled with financial pressure, health issues, family struggles, and emotional upheaval, where just coping and keeping our heads above water is hard.
There may be many voices to hear and many thoughts to control. Some voices will convey fear, others panic! Other confused voices might lead us off track making us feel completely helpless and hopeless in it all and lure us into a den of temptation, despair and eventually defeat.Thing is, beautiful ones, we have a King too; a risen King and sovereign King who isn’t surprised by any of this. Turns out, He really knows the end from the beginning of this story and in His Sovereignty, He still remains in charge, no matter how it appears! No matter how much each day is more of the same bad news, we’ve got to know He’s got this thing that man has no control over. So let’s just trust Him for all of our cares and keep building our ark! Make it strong by standing on a firm and solid faith in the One who speaks peace into the eye of the storm. Gather in your sweet promises from a God who honours His Word and has our best interest at heart. Tuck them into your back pocket, secure them safely in your heart and inhale them deeply into the soul of you. Build it high and build it wide and seal it with a hedge of protective prayer, for your families! Don’t let down your guard not even for a minute to follow deceptive voices and sly foxy loxies into a den of despair and defeat. Paul urges the persecuted church, and us today, to be filled with joy anyway because our happiness isn’t dependant on our circumstances, but solely on our relationship with the Lord and is resilient even in the midst of suffering and death. Our joy comes from simply knowing that whatever happens, God will use it for the ultimate good. In Philippians 4: 6, 9
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”