March 14th Anna and I celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary. The next day, our world changed with COVID-19. We are in week number seventeen in this crisis. I still have difficulty wrapping my mind around it. Seventeen weeks!
As a result, people are more frustrated and angry than at any time I can remember which has spilled over into social unrest. Just when I think things can’t get any crazier… it does! I don’t even recognize my country anymore. So, what should you and I do in light of all this?
The temptation is to take it all in and allow it to feed our spirit. I know people like that. Their TV is on 24/7 watching or listening to the news. It is not surprising that they are often the people who are experiencing the most stress.
I think of that verse in Psalm 46:10, “Be Still and Know that I am God.” The Message paraphrases it like this, “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” I like that. “Take a LONG LOVING LOOK at me, your High God, above politics, above EVERYTHING.”
Whatever we FOCUS on, we bring CLOSER into our lives. Think about that the next time you think about turning on the NEWS. Ask yourself, “Am I sure I want to bring this into my life?” I’m not saying don’t watch the news, but rather limit your exposure.
One of the few positive things that have come out of this pandemic is that it has given people an opportunity to reevaluate their priorities and realize what is truly important in life.
I’ve discovered in my own spiritual life that it’s hard to stay focused when I’m constantly on the move. That’s why I like Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Psalm 46, “STEP OUT OF TRAFFIC.” It is important to maintain a spiritual rhythm. Yes, there are things to do for the Kingdom of God, but there are also times that we need to slow down, catch our breath, and allow our souls to catch up with our bodies.
I think of Jesus letter to the Church in Ephesus in which Jesus commends them for DOING the right things, but then He says, “I have this against you, you have LEFT your first love.” (Revelation 2:1-7) In other words, it is possible to DO all the right things, but do it with the wrong heart.
So how is your heart? Proverbs 23:4 says, “Above all guard your heart for out of it springs the issues of life.” So how do you guard your heart?
Jesus tells the church in Ephesus to REMEMBER, REPENT, and to DO THE THINGS THEY DID AT FIRST. That is great advice.
1. REMEMBER. Take the time (instead of watching the news)
to remember what it was like when you first fell in love with Jesus.
2. REPENT. If you can think of a time that you were more in love with Jesus, you are in danger of leaving your first love. Repent. Admit it and turn away from it. Ask God to help. He will.
3. DO THE THINGS YOU DID AT FIRST. Do the things you did when you first fell in love with the Lord. Again, ask God to help you with this. Pray, “Lord, help me to fall deeper in love with you,” and then commit yourself to get up and read the word and pray. There is a lot to pray about these days.
Corrie Ten Boom once said, ““If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.”
My prayer for all of us is that we would be intentionally about stepping out of traffic and taking a long loving look at God.
Blessed to be your Pastor,