What a season this has been for ALL of us.
It is hard to fathom that we have been in the midst of a worldwide pandemic since March of 2020 (6 months ago and counting). To say that our world has changed would be an understatement.
In the midst of it all, I think there will be some good to come out of this season. On the positive side, I would like to assume society is becoming more sanitized, germ-conscious and aware of our environment and space. On the negative end, I think we will become even more anti-social, guarded and socially-distant in the days and years to come. It doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore, to think of a world where humans colonize to other planets, where everyone wears space suits, helmets with purified air, and a reality where there are no hugs or external fellowship; and where ‘social distancing’ now has a name.
The primal factor in my moving to Dallas Fort Worth was to lead the people of Shiloh in Fort Worth. That being said…my life naturally began to revolve around them for over three years (at the beginning of the pandemic). So it is quite natural to initially have felt a sense of ‘lostness’ not being able to interact with, visit or ‘fellowship’ with the people who’ve become my family. In the strangest way…in all of my years of pastoring, I have never felt ‘closer’ to my congregation during this season of life and ministry. For this, I am grateful. Of course, there have been some with whom have been unable to connect. But calls and cards have been a godsend.
So many people are anxious, fearful, confused and frustrated in the midst of this pandemic and Covid-19. I thank God for media and technology; but in some way, the media has had it’s way of pushing people mentally into overdrive. Even worse, most are not aware. To be sure, it seems that people, and the world, have gone absolutely mad, crazy and out of control. This seems even strange to write, when it seemed as if we were the aforementioned before 2020, and would’ve been so sure it couldn’t get any worse; atleast not so quickly. Even in churches, there is a great divide. There are some who think it is too soon to open (with many experts saying there will be a second wave during flu season) and others who are saying, ‘We do everything else, and go everywhere else.’ Add to this, the political debate we’ve forced upon wearing masks or not. Leaders, it often seems now, are in a lose-lose situation, in whatever decision they choose to make.
One thing I am sure this pandemic has done in most settings – be it with our family, in our friendship circles, in marriages and relationships, in the world or in church, and any interpersonal way – people have shown their true selves and their actual motives. Guess what? So have we!
As a Pastor, it is one of my tasks to not only encourage my parishioners and family and friends; but to encourage and lift other leaders and pastors. Philippians 4:6 encourages us not to ‘be anxious’ about anything; and Galatians 6:9 instructs us to ‘be ye not weary in doing well.’ Joshua chapter 1 in it’s entirety is always an encouragement, and it a chapter I have been lead by God’s Spirit to read daily. While this season is a wonderful opportunity to grow, focus on God, become more Christlike and centered on God’s Word; and to become more serious about what concerns God, I am afraid many of us are missing the opportunity, letting the moment pass us by. It is so important to use every moment during this ‘waiting room experience” as an opportunity to grow, focus, search the depths of your own soul, cherish every moment and person and to make yourself better and stronger.
This has been my goal and also my prayer. While I felt the results of others’ anxiety and ‘busyness’, and experienced the loss of my Aunt (Janice Pullam) since my last blog, and some whom I know who’ve experience illness and their own loss, I believe God is refining me. In the midst of challenge and change, God has blessed me to enroll back in school, and begin preliminary work for my Ph.D. I have continued to write; and shape my thoughts for publication in the future. God has also used this season to gradually break me out of my fear of being on camera, and all that entails. He is certainly challenging my nerves and my patience with others and compassion for people. I am also grateful and humbled that God would see fit to allow me to celebrate 4 years of Pastoral ministry at Shiloh on the 4th Sunday of this month. While it has not gone without it’s fair share of challenge (particularly in 2020 and during this pandemic), I am clear that it was God Who led me to beloved Shiloh MBC in Fort Worth; and He will order every step, with joy for the journey. Certainly….I appreciate every member of Shiloh who knows and believes that Shiloh is Christ’s church; He will keep it; and God has called us to love, lead and live like Jesus Christ in our own lives.
I’m wondering – what have you learned during this pandemic? How has God grown you durning this season?
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