Guest post by Rev. Scott Lees, Executive Pastor & Chief of Staff
Kristen and I recently shared with our sons Harrison and Graham that our world is experiencing unprecedented challenges created by COVID-19. With Kristen’s large extended family in Long Island, New York, this has been an overwhelming time for us all as we send supplies they cannot access such as masks, antibacterial cleaner, toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Over Easter we mourned the loss of her Uncle Peter to complications of the Coronavirus.
As I heard one author describe the situation, we expected a few snow days, but this has turned into a blizzard that has us trapped inside our homes for a significant season. At the beginning we thought to ourselves, “I can deal with a few weeks.” But weeks are becoming months. Our primary concern has always been about saving lives, but now many are trying to figure out how to save their livelihoods. As I spoke personally with many in our congregation over the past three weeks and ministered to neighbors, it has given me a vivid depiction of what people are experiencing and suffering. Not only do we feel the impact on our patience, but we also experience the stress on our wallets.
After reading Seedbed’s Daily Text titled From Manna to Maggots, I was challenged by the following words:
“We want to trust God but we also want a back up plan. We want to hedge the bet just in case manna doesn’t show up one day. Maybe it’s not a matter of good vs. bad or obedience vs. disobedience. What if the real issue is fear vs. faith? Will we trust in God’s provision or our own? This is the lesson of the wilderness.”
Christ Church and all communities of faith are experiencing something unprecedented. In the past we have cancelled services for a week or two because of a snow storm, but we have never been apart as a congregation for these many weeks. That is truly unsettling to our hearts. The unknown future creates added anxiety and fear for us all. Will we be able to worship as a large group soon? Will our members remain healthy if the restrictions are loosened, and what’s the impact to the vital ministry we offer the community?
Perhaps our season of winter, like the season of exile in the wilderness for the Israelites, causes us to ask: Will we trust in God’s provision or our own?
The Lord provided not only the manna in the morning for the Israelites as they endured their long journey to the Promised Land. He also provided the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night to show them exactly which way to go. Are we willing to lay down our maps, our control and trust in the leading of the one who is faithful? His only command to Moses and the people was obedience. Do we trust Him with everything and believe He has our best interests at heart? Will He truly provide for us so we can provide the ministry of Jesus Christ to others during these unprecedented times?
As we wrestle with our fears, it’s my prayer that the fear turns into faith. That we not only trust God with some things, but we trust Him with all things. That we don’t just hedge our bets, but we trust in God’s provision more than our own — that the wilderness leads us to a promised land. This is my hope for all of us as we shelter in place.