When our church regathers for its first worship service, it will have been 85 days and 12 Sundays since restrictions set in. None of us could have anticipated the sudden stop or the duration of what we have experienced. The challenging part is that we are regathering, but it is not really over. Thankfully the situation seems to be reasonably under control in our state, but to say it is over would be inaccurate. I think we have had the opportunity to learn some lessons and be reminded of some things through these circumstances.
Life is fragile. We take many things for granted, unaware that life can change dramatically almost in an instant. We need to live in light of a James 4 mentality, “if the Lord wills.” None of us are guaranteed tomorrow.
It turns out that many things our lives revolve around, that we think are really important, are not all that important. Sports is a good example. I love sports and follow them with a measure of consistency. Sports definitely add value to our lives, and entertainment, but life went on during this time quite well without the routine of sports we are so accustomed to following. That said, I look forward to their return!
Many of us do not pace ourselves very well. We get caught up in the hurry of life and add more and more activities to the agenda, without giving them much thought at all. Even if all our activities are good, I think we learned during this time some of them may be unnecessary. Hopefully this time has caused all of us to be introspective and evaluate our priorities.
The virtual world is not the same as the in-person world. I thank God for the creative technology we have at our disposal. It will continue to be a blessing to all of us as we move forward. Depending on your health and life circumstance it may be highly valuable for quite some time in the future to provide the opportunity to connect when you could not otherwise connect. Also, it pulls the world in closer. I led the first virtual Trustee Meeting of the International Mission Board during this time with people from all over the place gathering online. I could never have dreamed of such a thing in years past. I also met with several missionary and ministry friends periodically and was thankful for the ability to do so. I think however, the virtual world is a supplement, and is not intended to supplant time in person.
Churches have been challenged to consider what is truly important. Activities do not equal faithfulness. Faithfulness equals faithfulness. I think it is a healthy thing to look with a critical eye at everything we do in our churches and ask if it is biblical, and if it is helping us carry out the mission God has called us to in the world.
A lot of people are talking about a return to normal. “Normal” as we knew it may take quite some time to return, if it returns. Maybe the new normal will be better! Perhaps we will be good stewards of the lessons we have learned and launch into a season of life and ministry that is better for all of us. I pray this will be the case.