What to say? What to do?
For someone who likes to write her feelings, nothing sounds eloquent enough and words seem pretty much worthless right about now. My prideful side, though, shouts loud at me to scream out loud to you, “Look to Jesus. See Jesus. Hear and put your faith in Jesus. Please. Now!” My more humble side, however, gently whispers, “I have no words to add. No answers. And, little encouragement to offer amidst all the uncertainty. But, this I know. Jesus is still good and – most certainly – still in control.”
And the truth is, each side is correct. Jesus is both our long and short-term answer (always!) and He deserves a second (or first, or even fiftieth!) glance from each of us. Though, simply telling you that right now seems kinda empty and entirely too little (even when I know in my heart of hearts He is all there really is and all we need and more than enough in every circumstance in life. Yes, even this one).
Still, I see the perspective of someone who may not agree. Like how can I possibly say a simple name and think that will give hope to a world in such chaos and upheaval? A world where nothing is as it was just one short week ago and seems to be changing in innumerable ways by the hour. A world that is very clearly ruled by fear and not by faith. A world where rumors and reasons and removal of all common sense seems to rule the day.
Because, I actually tried saying Jesus’ name to a bartender the other day after this whole pandemic subject got brought up and the guy scoffed, called Jesus a fake, and then asked if I was a, “Bible Thumper?” And, I smiled because I get it. It’s nothing really new in my world. But, now I’m on here considering it out loud. Rolling it all over in my mind and writing about it…
So, how can I try to tell someone to just put their faith in a person and be saved so they can then be set free from both the fear of this pandemic and all the multiple, ever increasing threats that could potentially arise from this moment in time, simply because they’ll finally have peace with God and spend the rest of eternity with Him? (Though, it’s all very true.) And how can I tell them that life is actually all about this person named Jesus, when fears about jobs and money and security and safety and health and loved ones will certainly drown out any voice simply speaking a person’s name?
Even The Name Above All Names.
So maybe this is simply the time when most (since blogging is still a thing) of any telling ends and the showing truly begins?? When the giving away and the loving of all and the washing of feet becomes the only way to share any truth???
Like Jesus did.
[Not my original thought, by the way. Pastor Scott Sauls out of Nashville recently tweeted that during this crisis Christians should (and paraphrasing here) “wash hands, for sure… then, wash feet” and I loved it!]
Because maybe this is truly one of the rare times in history where we who profess Jesus Christ as our Savior… as The Way The Truth and The Life… as The Son of The Living God… will have our collective feet held to the proverbial fire. And maybe quite possibly the type of fire that produces flames we can’t even begin to imagine, so we’ll likely all need some kind of washing. To cool us off, if nothing else!
And so, I believe this is a time where what we say must line up with how we live. When our faith must be bigger than our fear. When we – The Church – should clearly see beyond any doubts that arguing over petty, personal convictions or preferences, and pointing out political and ideological divides or differences, and shouting over others or worse, at others(!), for not believing or living up to certain standards put in place by man, has absolutely no place in our everyday life.
Please may we each see this.
Because Jesus was once asked which was the greatest commandment and His reply was simply, “Love the Lord your God, with all your heart… soul… and mind… and the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.” And everything we as The Church, the actual Body of Jesus Christ, does from here on out must honor this teaching. It has to! It always should have, but now it’s simply crucial.
I mean if we’re to have any share in growing the Kingdom of God during all this, right??
We must ask ourselves before every word we speak (and type) or action we make, “Am I actually loving God and also loving my neighbor (EVERY OTHER PERSON ON PLANET EARTH) as myself here?” (And, yes, we love ourselves because Jesus said so and actually did enough to die for us and we’d make Him a liar if we didn’t agree with Him on this point.)
And Y’all, thank goodness this is more than just the “golden rule” and that Jesus Himself actually picked up where we will certainly slack off. Because, He’s the one to describe the greatest love of all as laying “…down one’s own life for one’s friends.” [See: Calvary] But truth be told, this is a concept I struggle with, since I’d likely only sacrifice myself for my own children. Maybe for my mom or sister or nieces, or hubby (I guess) also, but beyond that, I’m hard pressed to see a scenario where I’d be willing to die for another. Maybe I’d be more tempted to in some sudden crisis, but who really knows. It’s a big ask, just ask our amazing military, and likely an impossible call for many. Especially if it’s a foe like this one we’re currently facing: invisible and unknown, yet strong and hell bent on our destruction.
And here’s where I’m simply gonna stop all my pontificating and assure you that absolutely nothing at all has really changed in this upside down, rapidly changing world we now find ourselves living in. Seriously. Not one thing! Because we’ve always had this foe. It’s just that it’s gone by different names throughout history and time. In the end, though, the only name that’s important to understand is, Death. And the reality is that death comes for us all and it always has.
But guess what? We were never created to actually know this death. Which is what makes it both so hard to understand and so easy to fear.
And yet, there is more life after this death. Life that continues on throughout something else called eternity.
There must be, because if this is all there is, why even bother? I mean, what a pity and where’s the purpose and who even would care or have reason to live, right??
So, (agreeing there is an eternity) we all hope hard that each of us shares in the most pleasant option offered there, and we simply live here, hoping harder still that our lives are long and prosperous and happy. And, we pride ourselves on having the control and power to see that goal through.
And, yet… here we all are! Watching as the world cancels flights, trips, events, schools, entire sports seasons, and then closes malls, restaurants, theaters, Broadway, then actual cities and whole countries. Watching the unprecedented roll out in rapid succession, completely powerless to stop what’s happening, save the slight empowerment of limiting our personal physical contact with others and trusting (while yet still waiting) on the experts to contain something the world didn’t even know existed four short months ago.
Phew! That’s a ton to process on our end and certainly bound to take significant time.
Which fortunately we now seem to have in spades, as our days slowly unfold among this limited interaction. Time that could actually lead to less opportunity for distraction, as this forced social distancing may also force us to come face to face with the time to consider things we may never have considered otherwise…
Time to consider that we may not have all the time in the world and that the control we thought we possessed might actually be an illusion. Time to think long and hard about why we’re all here and what the purpose in all this living is anyway. Time to see there’s maybe more to life than we can actually see. Time to look deep down and ponder whether we really have settled all the answers to life’s biggest questions. Time to wonder why we’ve elevated the things we have and if we’ve chosen correctly. Time to look up and hypothetically conclude that there may be a Creator actually lording over all this chaos. (Because, after all, what would be the point of any chaos??) Time to finally know that our time here really is short and that death comes for us all, because we all have an end to our time here, be it the result of this pandemic, or some other disease, accident, or simply old age. Time to maybe scour the web and search out
corona symptoms so you can panic because you think you may have it all the possible names some of us humans call “God,” and then research why they actually call them by that name. Time to hopefully see that only one of them gave His life for you and for me. Then (maybe) time to consider calling out His Name (Jesus) and asking Him to reveal Himself in a real way during this really crazy time. And finally, time to stop chasing after and filling up on the things that never fully fill and most certainly can’t keep, and maybe (finally. instead.) start keeping time at the feet of the One Who will supply you with an entire lifetime of peace, throughout all eternity.
Maybe it’s just simply about that time??
And, to all my brothers and sisters already hoping in Christ Jesus, maybe it’s time to now depend on His work and His promises and His truth and His Kingdom purposes? Time to open our Bibles and read God’s Word for ourselves? Time to spend all this free time we may have never had before with the only One not bound by any time at all?
And, maybe it’s about time we rise up and be the hands and feet of Jesus. I’m speaking to myself here, too! And honestly I’m not sure how that’s gonna look exactly, but I’m making time to seek and keep open to God’s leading. (I’d love to read your thoughts/ideas/comments below.)
What I am sure of though, is that it’s time we move (if only virtually for the moment) toward all others in love.* It’s time to set down (once and for all!) our judgments and our distrust and our control and our fears and simply call out the Name that saved us when we were yet still sinners. It’s time to stop pointing fingers and attacking and devouring each other and others who may not agree with us on every point. It’s time to see everyone created as they are: God’s Image Bearers. It’s time to be The Body of Christ and live up to the Name of Jesus, in humility and service and sacrifice and loving truth. And most of all, it’s time to allow Jesus the time to love each of us – personally – so that we may love all those He’s yet to save, just as they are and right where they are! Oh, My fellow Christ Followers, it’s simply time.
Time we lift our eyes, and our hearts, unto One Name alone – the only name in heaven and earth – that can save.
And, for those of you with time to spare, who may be seeking to make sense of the scene playing out around you… I pray you seek and then finally see the One Who created you and spared nothing to save you and knows your name and awaits your belief in His Name – the only name in heaven and earth that can save…
Yes, even at such a time as this.
*See Paul Miller’s book, Love Walked Among Us and companion study, The Person of Jesus.