With Fall approaching, many questions and decisions swim around in my head. What will September bring? What will the new normal look like? What is normal, anyway? There is a phrase that keeps showing up: “in these uncertain times”. Uncertainty surely fits for the first half of 2020; but was life ever certain?
COVID-19 did pull the rug out from under us, ALL of us. Whether wealthy or poor, educated or not, of any culture, ethnicity or belief, this virus caught us all off-guard. Of what were we certain before? I know that in January I was sure that March would bring pictures on social media of spring break trips, May of proms and graduations. I was certain that Sunday after Sunday, church would be open for worship. I was equally convinced that family reunions, vacations, and shopping would fill my summer. I knew for sure that in August school would start and football season begin with all its implied activities.
How do I approach fall “in these uncertain times”? The best answer: we cannot step forward unless we are standing on solid ground, standing on a sure foundation.
Isaiah 33:5-6 (ESV) states:
The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness,
and he will be the stability of your times,
abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.
It is as true in this time as it was then, the Lord is our stability. The certainty we are promised is based on WHOSE we are, not the times in which we live. In fact, Jesus promised trials in John 16:33 (NIV): “In this world you will have trouble.” But in the very same sentence He taught us about His peace, and told us in Whom our strength lies: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
So, what are these things that Jesus tells the disciples? He tells them that He must leave them; but He also says it will be to their advantage for He will send the Holy Spirit who will convict the world of sin and righteousness and will glorify Him (John 16:7-10,14). He tells the disciples there will be many things they do not understand; but He also says that the Holy Spirit will guide them into all truth (John 16:12-13). He says there will be sorrow; but that when He comes again, our sorrow will turn to joy—a joy that no one can take from us (John 16:20-22).
Does this give us the answers to our problems and the questions of what to do in the fall? No, Jesus did not talk about how to get back to life after a viral and cultural pandemic. But He did show us how to frame our decision making. Jesus did not consult the local news source or grapevine. He prayed to the Father. When challenged by the Tempter, Jesus relied on Scripture to answer. When others tried to change His purposes, Jesus stood strong in His Father’s will, at times distancing Himself from dissenting opinions. Jesus loved deeply and completely, in word and action, without compromising His holiness.
CERTAIN FAITH is lived out in community. Together, in conversation with fellow believers, we remember that God created us for relationship and chose us as His treasure. We remember that God sent His Son to pay the price, so we could approach a holy God and live with Him forever. We remember all the ways God has been working in our lives—even during quarantine—for our good, to His glory. It is with perfect memory that we can live in perfect peace during these less-than-perfect times. What a wonderful, totally God-thing, that He can then use us to bring others into His perfect presence. JOY!