Are you worked up over COVID-19?
Some are more than others. On the one hand, some are being arrogant and irresponsible. On the other hand, some are letting fear control their every decision – or worse yet, are letting fear keep them from making any decisions. As we continue to work through the COVID-19 challenge, I am reminded how important having a personal strategy is.
If you have read my blog for a number of years, you may remember an entire series I did on the 4Ls back in 2017 on another site. Overall, I break my thoughts into my vision, my mission, my strategy, and my steps. As I have reflected on my vision and mission throughout the COVID-19 situation, it has served to guide me. Now, I may need to alter my strategy and steps for this new challenge and/or whatever the new normal is on the other side. However, the intentionality is helping to keep me grounded and active, rather than allowing fear to conquer.
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, my overall vision is “to be the man that God wants me to be.” That statement is based upon Ephesians 4.1 and 5.1. At this time, a part of who that man is must include being a calm voice. I can do that by fulfilling my mission which is as follows:
I will love my Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ, submit to His authority in my life, and rely on His power to use my God-given abilities to serve others – beginning with my family (Philippians 2.3-4). I will seek to grow in my knowledge and understanding of God’s truths and His will for my life. I will trust in His provision (Psalm 73.25-26). I will externalize my faith by reaching out to others, teaching them God’s truths, and encouraging others to grow in their relationship with Christ, so they may disciple others as well (Colossians 1.28-29).
Frankly, this statement is long – too long, perhaps. But it encompasses all that I believe I need to do to achieve the vision God has for me (although I will never fully achieve it during this life). Primarily, you will see that my mission involves the Great Commandment (loving God and loving others) and the Great Commission (discipling others). It involves learning to trust God (even through challenging times). It involves my three primary spiritual gifts (knowledge, teaching, encouragement). But there is something that it doesn’t say directly that is very important.
The Great Commandment contains the idea of loving others. Philippians 2.3-4 has a parallel meaning (and the purpose behind Colossians 1.28-29 does as well). As Jesus said we are to love others as we love ourselves – AS WE LOVE OURSELVES. That requires me loving myself. That requires me taking care of myself. That requires me knowing myself. Etc. I cannot love others well if I do not love myself well. I cannot care for others if I am unable to care for myself. BUT, and this is a big BUT, I cannot get so focused on caring and loving myself that I neglect to care for others.
That is the challenge that this coronavirus has caused. Many have become so fearful of contracting the virus that it has paralyzed them. We see it in the empty shelves in the stores. We hear it in the tone of voice people use. And we MUST take precaution. We must be diligent to protect ourselves. But that does not mean that we abandon others. Being under a lockdown is real. And contending with this virus is real. But as I have said repeatedly to my church – fear is real, but it need not rule.
And that is one reason why in the midst of this current issue, I am still working to find Sabbath. For many, the busyness of life has slowed considerably, or even stopped. For me, that has not happened. I am trying to find ways to capitalize on this period of time to get some necessary administrative aspects updated in the church I serve. I am trying to get more videos recorded to help pastors in under-resourced areas to have more and better training. And the number of under-resourced areas will be climbing after this current pandemic ends. Those are just two aspects I am giving more focus during this time, but both of those relate to my mission. Of course, I am trying to ensure my church members and regular attenders are doing ok both mentally and physically. I am spending additional time with my wife and adult children to check on their emotional state, in addition to praying for their physical well-being.
I could mention other aspects too, but the point isn’t what I am doing, it is that in the midst of doing, I need to make sure to care for myself too.
That was God’s intent for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was to be a time of rest and a refreshing of the body (if not soul). And as I look at my mission, which was developed over 20 years ago, and has only been moderately tweaked since, I see Sabbath embedded in the statement now, whereas I had never seen it before.
It is right in the LIVE portion of the mission – I will trust in His provision (Psalm 73.25-26). Those verses represent my Old Testament life verses. But they are about material provision. The verses did not mean anything to me early in my life causing me to rely upon myself, which ultimately put my family in a bind for years. But having adopted these verses has made an impact on how I view the material needs (and wants) I have.
However, in the midst of considering SABBATH, and the need for REST, I now see that His provision must include that REST. His provision includes six days of work and one for rest so that I can take time to care for myself in order to be ready to take care of others.
Certainly, my care for others is different than many people who are in the medical profession or social services, or the like. But my job involves spiritual care (including this blog) which includes teaching, encouraging, and leading others. And that takes a lot of energy – His energy – working within me (Colossians 1.28).
And if I am too tired to function, God can work through me in His energy. And He will do so. But if I am not caring for myself, God is not obligated to come and work through me anyway. He wants my best so He can do His best through me. And the recipe that He has given for me to be at my rest is to SABBATH.
He has made that provision possible. I just need to receive it.
Maybe you do too.
I know many are finding rest in different ways right now because of fewer hours at work. But that kind of rest is only causing more stress and anxiety due to economic challenges and concerns. And I am not here to say that trusting in God’s provision is easy – especially when money is tight (or non-existent). It is not easy. I know. I have been there. And I have failed while there.
But Jesus did say that we are to seek first God’s Kingdom and God’s righteousness. In fact that verse (Matthew 6.33) begins with the word “But” because He is contrasting these words to the paragraph of words He has just mentioned prior. And when we seek God’s Kingdom and God’s righteousness first, what is the result? Well, “all these things will be added to you.” That is, God’s provision will be added to you.
And again, that provision includes rest. If we are seeking God instead of the material, we can find rest. Indeed, we will find REST because we will find Him.
As we continue to walk through these uncertain times and an ever-changing future, it is good to know that REST is available. It is better to know that God wants you to have that REST. It is best to know that God wants you to have Him.
In the midst of COVID-19, or whatever challenge you might face, will you take time to seek God and His provision? We can feed our faith or feed our fear. God will meet you in your fear if you will feed your faith.
So have a plan. Live with purpose. Choose faith. Choose God. And let Him bring you the physical and emotional and mental and any other kind of REST you need. That is what I am learning to do. It is what I must continue to learn to do. And I want to encourage you to do it as well.