Last weekend on Facebook I saw this suggestion along with several similarly themed memes:
I chuckled as a homeschooling mama. The time change had us way out of whack last week. More than once, I chose to turn on worship music and sit still. I did not make this choice just because it was pleasant; it is because it was necessary. That day, my son had to correct me as to what day it is or what was going on. Talk about upside down!
Then there is COVID-19. This week brought so many reasons to worry, panic, and fear. But if we choose to look for it, we can find wonder, peace, and faith instead.
Yesterday I took a much-needed moment to sit on the porch and soak up some sunshine in the 60-degree weather. My devotion, ironically titled 'Snowstorms". It spoke to me about this season we are going through as a nation. In part, it read,
Storms of all kinds are painful reminders of just how powerless we can be. How do we respond? How do we approach the Lord in those tumultuous seasons? Poor Job was hit with so much: the deaths of his children, the loss of material wealth and comfort, and the ruining of his physical health. When he questioned God, the Lord's response was to remind him at length exactly who He was, and who Job was not Though He never explained any purpose of Job's suffering, Job was chastened and replied, "Surely I spoke of things I do not understand, things too wonderful for me to know" (Job 42:3"). How often do we respond to God with that kind of trust and humility in the storm?
I watched the high clouds roll by as the sun warmed my face and the Lord reminded me that the tumultuous situations we humans face do not change who He is, His character, or His nature. Regardless of how this virus came about, God Almighty is still in control, constant and unchanging. When we keep this in mind, we can live in and from a place of wonder, peace, and faith.
Living in this place gives us the peace that passes all understanding, the wonder to see God's hand at work, and the faith to believe and carry on. It also allows us to live from, or operate out of, a positive place.
That doesn't mean we ignore what is going on and start licking handrails. It means we make decisions from a place of faith, not fear, peace, not panic, and wonder, not worry. We aren't so stressed out that we're always yelling at the kids but cherishing the extra time at home with them.
So, what does it look like to live “real life” from a place of wonder, peace, and faith?
Wonder in Real Life
Even as Christians, we don’t live in a state of wonder often enough.
Sure we say how wonderful a meal was, or how awesome the latest movie was, but those are not authentic moments of wonder and awe.
We use words like “wonder, wonderful, and awesome" a little too much, too casually.
Noah Webster gives this description of wonder: "That emotion which is excited by novelty (something new), or the presentation to the sight or mind, of something new, unusual, strange, great, extraordinary, or not well understood; something that arrests the attention by its novelty, grandeur or inexplicableness. Wonder expresses less than astonishment, and much less than amazement. It differs from admiration, in not being necessarily accompanied with love, esteem or approbation, nor directed to persons. But wonder sometimes is nearly allied to astonishment, and the exact extent of the meaning of such words can hardly be graduated." (italic and bold, mine)
Wonder is there. You can find it sandwiched between two critical words. Those words are "astonishment" and "amazement."
The cereal you had for breakfast isn’t really a wonder, is it? But the fact that God orchestrates the steps of our life? Now THAT is a wonder. That is something we need not forget.
After our parents left Egypt, they took your wonders for granted, forgot your great and wonderful love. They were barely beyond the Red Sea when they defied the High God —the very place he saved them! —the place he revealed his amazing power! He rebuked the Red Sea so that it dried up on the spot —he paraded them right through! —no one so much as got wet feet! (Psalm 106:6-12, MSG)
May you never take His wonder for granted. Living each day to see the wonder of God both in our lives and creation is a choice that only you can make. Allow your heart to be stirred by the miracle (the phenomena) of who He is, what He does, and what He created.
Peace in Real Life
I remember when I first learned that “peace on Earth” from our famous Christmas slogan didn’t mean everybody got along, and no one fought. Even as a young adult, I thought it was referring to a future, far off place of earthly peace. But I quickly learned ...
Peace on Earth is Jesus. And this 'peace that passes all understanding' lives in you if you’re a believer. Peace is in you. Peace is a part of you. Peace is available to and through you.
When we live in a place of peace, it means we can make decisions not from fear, panic, and worry but a place of alignment with God and with wisdom. We are at peace even if our work has closed and we aren't getting an income.
Living in peace allows you to make wise, not rash decisions. Only you know if you’re acting from a place of fear or peace and spiritual order, and I encourage you to take time to settle yourself, calm down, and see the Lord. That doesn’t mean six days of prayer and fasting before every decision. It simply means being in tune with the Peace living inside you.
“Don’t take this lightly. You don’t want the prophet’s sermon to describe you: Watch out, cynics; Look hard—watch your world fall to pieces. I’m doing something right before your eyes That you won’t believe, though it’s staring you in the face.” (Acts 13:41, MSG)
Need to be prompted to be peaceful? Here's a little gift for you of 25 great worship piano from Hillsong to listen and use when necessary (Oh, you'll know when.). Feel free to let it keep playing while you read on ...
May you see the craziness in the world for what it is. But please look in the mirror so that you can see what He is doing -- and doing "right before your eyes."
Faith in Real Life
What does it look like to live our faith in troubling times? For the Christian, this happens in two distinct ways: acting in faith and acting out faith.
Acting in faith means we remember that God is in control. Again, it means making decisions based on what the Lord is saying not what the world is doing. It’s not worrying about your July vacation in March because the Lord has you in His hand. Go or don’t go, you are still a child of God.
Acting out faith is faith in action. Be a refreshing light.
I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.” Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove. (James 2:18, MSG)
Our job is to combine our resources, however minimal, with the light of God’s Word. In that way, you will also "be a light to guide the nations” (Isaiah 42:6 NLT) and will truly brighten the world with wisdom, grace, decency, and holiness.
But ... How Can I Help During COVID-19?
You are scrubbing your hands. You are dodging large gatherings. You may even be working from home. You are following all the safety tips for COVID-19 in this national crisis. But, as an extension of taking all the suggested steps to follow crucial safety guidelines for yourself and your family, let's talk about some things you can DO to be a "refreshing light" and help the people or societies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To repeat, acting out faith is faith in action. Be a refreshing light. But you're at home. A LOT. A lot more than you ever counted on. How about one (or more) of these 7 actionable efforts to experience it during this season of COVID-19?
- When you buy three packs of toilet paper, give one to the elderly lady next door or the man behind you in line that couldn’t get any because he can’t move as fast and your store has a toilet paper shortage.
- Bake a meal for a neighbor (with gloves) and leave it on their porch (with gloves! ;-).
- Contact your local homeless shelters and homeless service organizations to find out what they need most now.
- Volunteer with Meals on Wheels. Some Meals on Wheels chapters are looking for healthy volunteers who can be on call to make deliveries during the coronavirus outbreak.
- The American Red Cross is compelling people who are healthy and feeling well to donate blood or platelets. They say there is no evidence that this new coronavirus can be carried through blood transfusions. You could find a donation site or blood drive near you. Click here to check your area!
- Offer to Facetime with a friend’s kids to teach them something interesting! I know someone doing that to teach Spanish. Or do an art lesson on Facebook Live for those whose kids are stuck at home.
- Hold a normally scheduled gathering via Zoom or in a private Facebook group instead of in person.
There are several other things I could suggest, but I hope those ideas got your juices flowing with ideas on what YOU could do! As things change moment by moment, I encourage you to turn off the news, stop scrolling your feed, and find your wonder, peace, and faith. Play worship music. If the kids are home from school, don't worry too much about worksheets, and assignments but instead have some worship time, laugh and have fun, or take a nature walk.
Whether it is a time change, a schedule change, or a world change that is turning you upside down, at the end of the day, my best advice is this: choose to praise God for who He is, for His wonder, for the peace He gives, and for the faith you have in Him ... even in the midst of the chaos around you.
Just do remember, no matter what changes in the world, God is unchanging, and He is in control. Amen?