It’s hard not to think of the pandemic right now – but so much of my conversations with people is not only about the pandemic but the wake that will be left behind it both now and months and years to come. Will this change or this go back? Will we have to start over here or get creative here?
And what’s really interesting is that it SEEMED like people were unhappy at the beginning and yet we accepted it and realized that we were all affected so there was grace there. Grace in our interactions, grace in our patience, grace in just about everything we did. We were kinder, recognized the needs of others, and it was…nice (which is odd to say at the beginning of the pandemic). Yes, we didn’t know what was going on, yes the science was changing each day, yes there was rhetoric and divisions, and yes we saw viral YouTube videos of people going nuts in places but overall the general feeling from people was to be patient with one another, understand that we’re all in this together, and that we’ll get through this – however long it takes. Now we are 9 months in, people are MORE angry and bitter and divisive, the wake we are leaving behind in our angriness is wider and bigger, and we just have even LESS grace then we had before. We want it to end. We want our lives to go back. We’re tired of this and so much more because lives are affected and effected, jobs have been lost, rent and mortgages have been affected, mental health, physical health, and sooooo much more has been hit hard. So our emotions are now raw and not just bubbling at the surface they are EXPLODING everywhere – and guess who gets hit when they explode?
YOU and me. And that strikes me. Yes, I get that we’re tired, angry, bitter, and broken people and so much of this has become political and it’s just this avalanche of reasons that we give… but let’s call a spade a spade: they aren’t reasons…they are excuses. And guess what excuses are: Stupid.
Here’s what Oxford’s definition of an excuse is: that it’s an attempt to lessen the blame; seek to defend or justify; a reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense.
I think part of the problem during this time is that we don’t want to find fault within our actions because it’s our “right” to feel the way we feel, believe the thing we believe, and do the thing we want to do. The struggle I personally have with this is that not only does that become a self-centered “me” focus but what we’re effectively doing is saying, “I am who I am, I’m not gonna change, accept me for who I am because I’m not gonna change, and nor do I WANT to be changed.” To me…I look at that and wonder how, in this moment, with those feelings…how are we inviting God to do something within us, to change us, to mold us, to shape us, to make us better, when it’s about me and my unwillingness to be open? How is anything good going to possibly come out if I’m so focused on me and defending me? Trust me, I know God can do miracles, we see it in his Son, but us being close-minded and self-centered is not going to help the Holy Spirit continue to move us, shape us, and mold us while he dwells within us.
So these conversations I’ve had with others has to do with how we, as a society, as a church, as a believer, are going to be changed for the better. Clearly things are going to change, and have changed, but how is God taking us from here…to there. It’s one thing to look at this pandemic and be stuck in fear and trembling and me and my comfort – it’s another to look at it and see an opportunity for growth, and change. And I think THAT is a question we need to have for our own personal growth but also for the Body.
Author Tom Heetderks writes in his book, Work Worth Doing, that “God establishes disruptive change around you in anticipation of transformative change within you. Transformative change within you is at teh core of the gospel message.” (107) I like that idea of “transformative change” and how it’s at the core of the gospel – as it is. Tom is right. Everything Jesus comes to do, every work the Holy Spirit has within us is to take us from here… to there. To be transformed.
Paul writes in Romans 12:2 that we are not to be conformed to this world but transformed by the renewal of our mind. What I appreciate about these words is that for me it reminds me that a transformed mind takes work! It’s a daily transformation, a daily commitment, and it takes a DESIRE too. Paul writes in 2 Cor 3:18 that we, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the SAME IMAGE from ONE DEGREE of glory to another. Again, it’s about a SLOW change – but a change that is necessary with 1 degree at a time, 1 step at a time, one action at a time until we reach the final goal of perfect glory. And THAT CHANGE doesn’t come from me…it comes from the Spirit. You and I are being “transformed” daily into the likeness of Christ – and that transformation is done over a lifetime. And so when we look at this pandemic, when we look back a year from now, 5 years from now, 10 years from now what are we going to see in our wake? Destruction or growth? Will we see decimated relationships and continued hate, anger and division – or will we see new growth, new life, and a change that we helped make towards the better. That’s the beauty of the rising phoenix. That’s the beauty of new growth that comes out of a forest fire: Life.
Yes, we’re lamenting and angry and maybe even coming up with excuses as to missing who we were but who we were ended in March…who we’re becoming MUST be something better because God is at the helm and we trust him. So the question is how is COVID changing the church, or reforming her? How is what we’re going through MAKING us better? How am I, as a husband, father, son, brother, friend, minister, and follower of Jesus going to move FORWARD in the wake of the year we’ve had? And yet how am I NOT moving into a funeral of past times as those times still may return!
Lots of questions…lots of wonderings…but let us engage, hope, reflect, and act!