A Gift from God

It’s been just three weeks since you started – sometimes voluntarily and sometimes not – living in a radically altered way because of COVID-19. Yet it probably seems like an eternity that likely will continue longer than you want or can imagine. It’s hard doing life in suspension when you’re used to being in charge. It’s hard wanting a timetable when there is none. It’s hard finding answers when you’re not even sure of the questions. And it’s hard praying for God to swoop in and miraculously rid the world of this pandemic when you see no evidence that is going to happen. Yet this hard time can also be an incredibly rich time of exploring the depths of God, growing closer to those you love and learning far more about yourself than you ever could when life is on cruise control. So much so, that when you look back, you may just call it a gift from God. 

May It Be So

You’re trying hard to keep a stiff upper lip in the midst of the extraordinary changes brought about by COVID-19, but you’re weary, afraid and uncertain what life will be like when it’s all finally over. Sure, you know you’re making a huge difference staying home, you’re grateful for leaders who are helping to guide you through this crisis and you give thanks to God for family members and close friends who are keeping a smile on your face. But ultimately, COVID-19 drives you to the reality that you need what Jesus freely offers you like never before. And he’s waiting. And he’s telling you, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV) May it be so for you today. 

What Have You Discovered?

What have you discovered about God during the COVID-19 pandemic? This is a crucial question, because you discover what truly matters about God much more clearly when your life is turned upside down than when things are going well. Hopefully, you’ve discovered that it’s easier to be authentic in your relationship with God now than when you were in control of your life and somehow were convinced you needed to convince God how good you are. Hopefully, you’ve discovered just how serious Jesus is about reaching out to you just as you are, and that all he wants you is to love him passionately and trust him completely just as you are. Hopefully, you’ve discovered that the Holy Spirit blows through your life every single day enabling you to live with integrity, joy, compassion and hope in the most difficult circumstances. In other words, God’s grace is so transformative that God is even able to use a horrific pandemic to help you discover deep well-springs of faith that will enrich your life forever more.

A Sunday Prayer

“A Sunday Prayer”

Oh Lord, my God!

My heart breaks for all the death, illness, lives turned upside down, uncertainty and fear that has been unleashed in our world because of COVID-19. My soul aches for all those who cannot be with loved ones in the most tender moments of their lives. My spirit winces for all those who are beginning to wonder if there is any hope.

Come, Holy Spirit, come! Unleash your healing power into the lives of those who are ill and dying. Indeed, I boldly pray that those who are sick will be cured, and that this virus literally will be cast out of our world.

Come, Holy Spirit, come! Protect and encourage those who are caring for the ill even as they know they are putting themselves at risk. I pray you will lift them up, fill their spirits and enable them to know how deeply they are loved and cherished.

Come, Holy Spirit, come! Let the Good News of Jesus Christ ring forth like a clarion call in these days when people need to experience his love, his joy and his new life. I pray that all who love Jesus – pastors and laity alike – will find ways to share his passion for people, regardless of who they are. 

I pray this and so much more in the strong, strong name of Jesus – Amen!

The Quality of Your Life

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting your life every single day. And while you know how blessed you are, it’s a challenging time. You’re getting sick and tired of Zoom meetings. You may feel like a cast member of “Groundhog Day,” in which every day is repeated exactly the same. You are longing to be with people you can hug and look in the eye. And you may feel sorry for yourself about a whole host of things. The Bible says this is the day the Lord has made, and you should rejoice and give thanks for it. These words are a powerful reminder that the quality of your life is not primarily determined by your ability to do what you want when you want and how you want. Rather it blossoms as you grow closer to God, experience the fullness of God’s grace and dwell in the presence of God – regardless of what’s going on.

Learning About Yourself

You learn a lot about yourself when everything changes, your routine is ripped up and thrown away, and there is very little normal left. You learn how easily you adapt, what your priorities are, and whether you are basically an optimist or a pessimist. You also learn something about your relationship with God when life’s turned upside down. You learn what you expect from God, how dependent you are on Jesus and how much you long for the Holy Spirit to be at work in your life. Learning about yourself is always good. It can also be painful, especially when you are confronted with things you don’t like. But there is hope. Awesome Hope. Because God’s amazing grace loves you unconditionally and transforms you from the inside-out – all at the same time!