I slept late this morning. Night before last I barely slept. During this time of Covid-19 and “Stay at Home” orders all structure has been thrown out the window.
Actually what I have now is what I long for often–long periods of time alone to read and pray and journal…and drink coffee; less biddings to go and do, less social necessities, a monk-like/nun-like existence: Ora et Labora, Ora et Labora. That is it mostly.
My evangelical Christian worldview brings guilt that I need to be out there spreading the word, helping people. Indeed that is what Jesus and the disciples did. They didn’t hole up and stay in caves praying–quarantining. They didn’t even stay in one place like the desert mothers and fathers, or in a monastery or Christian commune, and let others come to them (except maybe some like John who was exiled to Patmos and Paul in prison).
But I am not Jesus nor His first century disciple. The early church had a mix of calls for each person according to their gifts–according to what “body part” they were, according to their unique vocation. And this pandemic time is a unique, likely, temporal time too.
My very good friend, Jan Kaneft, is the Archdeacon at Church of the Apostles in Columbia, SC. She wrote a devotional during this time that really spoke to me. I include it below:
SCRIPTURE: The LORD your God is in your midst, a Mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
THOUGHT: Last week we ZOOMED with dear friends in North Carolina. Almost immediately, the conversation centered upon our grandchildren, a common occurrence with grandparents. Bill, our friend, laughingly described his new garden apprentice-his three-year-old grandson.
He loves to help me feed the birds. We end up with more seeds on the ground than in the feeder. It’s always messy. It would be easier and much quicker to do it myself, but I just love being with him.
He went on to say, Time spent with my grandson reminds me of what our relationship with Jesus is all about-He doesn’t need us; He wants us.
The prophet, Zephaniah, proclaims a similar message to the Israelites in Judah. God, the covenant keeper, initiates with His people a call back to relationship. He is faithful even when His children are making messes of their lives. He blesses with His presence because He delights in His people. Pure and simple, He just loves being with us.
Locked in the constraints of COVID-19, much of our activity has been curtailed. Has this restraint unveiled a fear inside that busyness has kept buried: does God really love me? Many of us believe that we are required to achieve something to prove to God and to the world that we are worth loving. In other words, what we do engages His love. The doing can become a lifeline to our significance, affirmation, security, acceptance—our value. It is difficult for us to believe that He just wants us. If this is your struggle, let the words of Zephaniah remind and encourage you today: God rejoices over you with gladness. God quiets you with His love. God exults over you with loud singing. Friends, He doesn’t need us; He wants us.
First, this includes one of my favorite Scriptures–Zechariah 3:17. This reminds me–We are/I am not socially distanced from God! He’s in my midst. He’s here.
And, as Jan reminded me, He loves me more than I love my grandchildren, Hazel and Julian, from whom we’ve been “socially distancing”. And He wants to be with me more than Hule and I long to be with Hazel and Julian. Wow! That’s a lot. Being around them, distancing 6 feet away and outside, and not getting to hold them was excruciating. So I’m asking myself:
Do I distance myself from You, God?
Not going all the way to embrace You and sit on Your lap and be quieted by Your love?
Receive Your cheek kisses?
Hear Your ho-ho-ho; Your songs and shouts of joy and gladness over me?
I watched yesterday as Hule previewed a new video just sent of the grandkids. Hule’s face was priceless–rejoicing over, smiling deep, deep face furrows of joy watching their every move.
God, if You indeed, rejoice over us–over me–in that way, it is an amazing privilege. I want to acknowledge and soak it in. I want to live seated in Your lap, in Your embrace, surrounded and covered with Your love and never let the wetness of Your kisses on my cheek evaporate.
Once again I’m reminded of another of my life Scriptures: Romans 8:38 & 39.
What can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus?
Not social distancing
Not job insecurity
Not economic catastrophe
Not sickness or even death
This incomprehensible, unbelievable, ever-present love of God is the eternal foundation of life!