The Lord Is With Us
Tonight at midnight, the state of Ohio goes under a “stay at home order.” Like all of you, I have never experienced anything quite like this. It’s surreal and like we are in some science fiction movie with a strange unseen enemy “out there.” I’m not afraid or worried. But I do rather imagine myself reacting the way a puppy might when they are trying really hard to understand something — by repeatedly (and adorably) tilting their head one way and then the other — but still don’t seem to understand.
This is a strange and uncertain time for all of us. Today it is so beautiful and peaceful outside, yet many of us are working from home or are canceling our social engagements in order to practice “social distancing.”
Pastor Jason, Sara and I are working from home to abide by the guidance we have been given. We are very thankful for those who worked diligently and quickly to set us up technically so we might work from home on most things. But for a little bit of time today, Deandra and I needed to go to the church. On the way home, I asked Dee if she wanted something from McDonalds or some other drive-thru. It might be our last time for a couple of weeks. She wanted a sweet tea from Mc Donald’s. As we drove around the building, landscapers were planting and mulching new shrubs.
Watching them reminded me, while what we are experiencing seems devastating and is life as we’ve never known before, they are planting and mulching here beside an empty parking lot — as though nothing has changed!
I was reminded of the Israelites going into Babylonian exile, the last exile they faced before Jesus would come. But before they left, the prophet Jeremiah told them to plant a tree and that they would be coming back. I don’t want to glamorize Israel going into captivity; they had sinned and turned their back on the Lord. Their exile was a punishment, but think of what we have and what we learned from their captivity! We have the wonderful, powerful and amazing stories of Daniel in the lions’ den, of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego or even the hand writing on the wall. Great and mighty stories came out of their time of exile. The Israelites learned to return to the Lord, to pay attention to Him and to bow down and worship Him. We have the same opportunities.
I’m not saying that COVID19 is a punishment from the Lord. Someone else will have to make that determination. But, I am saying that just as the Lord went into Babylon with the Israelites, He is going through this WITH us. Regardless of the reason behind what is going on — the Lord is with us. We will get through this season and be able to tell the stories of our experiences — stories of how we witnessed the Lord working, how he protected, provided, and proved over and over His love for us. We have wonderful opportunities to watch Him at work if we choose to look for His presence — if we will pay attention, return to Him and worship Him. May this be a season filled with wonder and awe as we trust in our Lord who is always with us.