Please read this entire article
This article briefly explains my thoughts of COVID 19, both my frustrations and – believe it or not, God's blessings in my life resulting from the virus. The reason for this article, as the old saying goes, is to demonstrate that you really can (or I should say that
God really can) make lemonade out of lemons if we are willing to have the right heart. As most of you know, I am totally frustrated with our government's and the media's response to this virus. I have struggled with this more than any other in my life that I can remember. With that said, I will go no farther with my complaints during the rest of this article. My intention is not to infuriate those that might have opposing views, but I needed to state my frustration so that you understand how God works in mysterious ways, ways that we often cannot see unless we continuously and consistently search for Him.
My five-fold prayer
At some point during the past eighteen years since losing Martha and leaving for college and then seminary, I began praying a five-fold prayer to God. It started simply as a request to become more like Jesus, but as I studied, the prayer turned into the current prayer I now pray most every day. It goes like this. “I pray that I might become a man a man of God, a man after God's own heart, that I might become highly esteemed in God's eyes, that I walk with God, and that I become a friend of God.” I've now prayed that prayer for years and often wondered when, or even 'if' God would answer the prayer in a way that I might understand. For years, nothing happened. Maybe I didn't expect Him to respond in a literal way. Possibly His answer would be too oblivious to comprehend.
Why the five-fold prayer?
It’s really quite simple. As I studied the Bible's heroes, some of them jumped out as having pleased God in ways that many others didn't. Not that other men and women in the Bible didn't please God, but five stood out. I wanted to become like those five people spiritually. In this case, it’s five men. Maybe I’ve overlooked what God has said about the women, of which I know He was very pleased with many of them, but possibly because I’m a guy, God’s view of these five men jumped out to me. This article, however, is not about the five Bible heroes. This article is about a spiritual journey with God during this virus pandemic in our country. But it's
doubtful the journey would have taken place without the consistency of the five-fold prayer.
The blessing of Governor DeWine’s state shutdown
As with any job, employees have to meet daily demands. Sometimes we work long hours due to the job’s requirements, and sometimes we escalate our workload because we love the work so much that we cause the daily demands to intensify. Ministry is a job that pastors can turn it into what we make of it. In my case, I love the work here, and I’m often guilty of bearing a load beyond what you, the elders, and the board require, and that workload intensifies during the year-end holiday season. December is always a stressful month, beginning with Thanksgiving and continuing through our Christmas eve service. I take a vacation over Christmas and New Year’s Day because of exhaustion. This year, however, upon returning from vacation, the work continued as overwhelming. I was exhausted and dragging tail, and then came the state shutdown. When we decided to end onsite services in March (the last service was March 22, with only 56 of us in attendance), I was ready for a rest, and I got it. I stayed busy as we videoed the service to put on our website, plus I began calling several people in the congregation to keep in touch, but the 'type' of busyness changed. I
had the chance to study more, pray more, meditate, chew over things with God, and appreciate life a little more. But it only took a week or so before I became restless and was tired of ‘holing up’ inside the house. Fortunately, God provided some beautiful early spring weather, except for one miserable rainy week that we couldn’t get outside. But the point is that rest and more time with God created a drastic change in my life.
The blessing of COVID 19 and answered prayer
During the state shutdown, God showed up differently than in the past, almost as though His presence enveloped me. His presence was recognizable. I can’t explain it, but it was something no Christian would ever want to end. While the world outside the house was full of frightened people and people afraid of dying, my world changed, and if God had asked me to come home to Him, I was ready. I was prepared to die before then, but His closer presence drew me to lose fear completely and prepared me to face death's reality at any time. I understood what it meant when Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 that home in the body means we are away from the Lord. I long to be with the Lord.
The journey continues
While this all sounds entirely satisfying, and as though I have heaven on earth, I still have a long way to grow closer to Christ and more like Him. I’m not perfect. At times, I'm still a mess in my sin. God has not turned me into Moses or one of the other Bible heroes, rather, I’m a man of many flaws. Some of you know that well. It's a journey in growing more like Jesus, but it's a journey that I don't want to end. Progress is slow, but I sense Jesus at my side and know the Holy Spirit dwells within. You can have this journey too. It’s indescribable and joyful, and you can only understand by experiencing it. I pray you find this joy and peace in Christ.
I pray that I don't sound arrogant or appear above anyone because that is not the intention. Humility is a better word for my current position in Christ and as your pastor. Please continue to pray for me as I keep praying for you. You are a phenomenal congregation with incredible patience with your minister. Your growth and deepening faith in Christ are clearly visible, yet all of us
have so far to journey still. Let's remain faithful to Him, He who sustains and blesses us with His undying love. Let’s yearn to become like Jesus and look forward to meeting Him face-to-face. 6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. -2 Corinthians 5:6-8
Love you & God Bless,