Tag Archives: Pandemic

Re-centering After COVID-19

Several years ago, while visiting my hometown in Texas, my husband and I decided to visit Magnolia’s Market in Waco. This must stop-and-shop location was well worth the effort; however, it caused us to return home a different route through the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex than the one we knew. Having a GPS in the car, I plugged in a destination and off we went. Everything worked just fine…that is, until we hit some construction work and found ourselves moving at a snail’s pace.

My husband decided to re-route us by way of a no-name road. The GPS struggled with that abrupt change in plans. It continued to flash and speak the word “Re-centering” as if we were about to drop off the earth. When my husband got us back on the right path, I turned off the GPS; but the word “re-centering” stuck with me.

Actually, that seems to fit where we are right now—in the midst of a pandemic where all of our plans have changed. Let’s face it, it is just plain hard to stop in mid-stream, mid-dream, mid-plan, or mid-year, and not be able to do what we intended. It feels wrong somehow, but sadly none of us can do anything about it.

Or can we? Could we perhaps “re-center” our plans and our lives? Maybe. None of us like hard times, but we can be thankful for the results that follow.  In 2005, Casting Crowns released a song called “I Will Praise You in the Storm.” It reminds us that we can praise God in the storm because of the serene, breath-taking quiet that surrounds us and tells us we are safe after the storm.

So here we are, COVID-19 dwellers in the midst of the perhaps the worst storm we have ever faced. Still, we can anticipate a calm after this storm passes. Standing on the other side of the pandemic, we will most likely be able to see the hand of God in it all—the pain, the heartache, the fear, the losses, and the gains.

Our prayer should be to ask God to show us what we need to see from that after-the-storm perspective. What did we learn? What was the take-away? What do we now know that we didn’t know before? How was my life enriched? How is my course changed? How will eternity be impacted? Will I be a different person than I was before the storm? The possibilities are enormous!

I’ve heard it said, “No one wants to go back to the way things were.” It’s true, most people don’t want to go back to work as normal, life as normal, or even church as normal. I pray the heart-cry of every child of God is that we no longer want a mundane state of living. Many of us were driven by our schedules that allowed little or no time for God or family. That busy, relentless treadmill-life demanded we answer its every beck and call to bow before the things of the world. We were too rushed, even in our church services, to wait upon God for barely a moment of silence.

It could be that God Himself jerked us to reality. You see, to fill our lives with the things of the world is a lower state of living than God desires for us. Yet, we did it year after year, month after month, week after week, and day after day.

In Luke 15:11-32, we find a wonderful story about a prodigal son—the one who wanted his inheritance early—his cut of the family farm. He got it and then squandered it, spending his life on wild living.

A good question may be to ask ourselves: Before the pandemic, how was my life being spent? I think some feel that we have spent ourselves, and now we’re tired, we’re worn, we’re out of luck, out of ideas, and perhaps out of hope.

When the wayward son got to that place, he took a job he never thought he’d have—working in a pig pen. All the props had been removed from his life. Props are things that hold us up, help us look normal, tell others that we’re doing great—while we are dying on the inside. There’s nothing left to hide behind, no mask to cover the reality of where we are—busted, broken, and needy!

Yet, the best part of the prodigal son story is that smack-dab in the middle of the pig pen, he came to himselfhe remembered who he was. He was indeed the son of a loving father. Oh, dear ones, so are we sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father who is waiting for us to come to ourselves and remember who we are.

In this powerful story, once the young man woke up to his current surroundings, he had to do something about it—he had to arise and go to his father. And so must we go to our Father, fall at His feet, and tell Him we have sinned.

Every person’s pig pen will be different. Yours will be made of the things you chose to dwell in—and mine will be made of the things I chose. We will each have eaten our fill with the choices we made, the lusts we sought after, and the things of the world that allured us there.

The good news is that what awaits each of us is all the same! We will be met with the loving arms of our Father, who has been heart-sick since the day we left home; we’ll be clothed in a fine robe and shoes for our feet; and lastly, our Father will put a ring on our finger signifying our birthright status!

In this moment of quiet, in mid-pandemic state—with movie theaters closed, ball-fields unlit, concert halls dark, stadiums empty, and the church doors locked—can we wake up and recognize where we are? Can we see the tragedy of pig pen living and filling ourselves with the husks of the world? Can we leave that place and return to our Father?

Railroad with woman

Actually, it’s not all that far from where we got off track. It happened so slowly that we barely noticed it along the way. Can we admit where we mis-stepped and made bad choices and then turn towards home? Our Father is watching and waiting, with His gaze fixed upon the road that will take us there.

In 2020, every person on earth has received a wake-up call, along with an invitation to take a fresh look at their lives to see how it is being spent. We are offered a chance to respond to a Father who is awaiting with open arms to welcome us home.

What we do with our wake-up call is up to no one but us. I wonder, will we “re-center” our lives during this opportunity? Can’t we just leave the husks behind and go? You bet we can. Let’s do this! ~ Janie

The Savior and His Little Chicks ~ In Times Like These

The term “trying times” is an understatement for the day in which we find ourselves—fighting COVID-19. For most of my life I have heard about a future time when things would be out of control and everything would be shaken. It would be unlike anything we have ever seen before, and it would be linked to the end of the world. Whether this time is any of that or not, it is at the very least, a coming storm that shakes us to the core.

Today, after nearly three weeks of sheltering in place—right here in the good ole USA, the land of the free and home of the brave—we are staying home from work, school, church, sports events, movies, vacations, trips to see grandparents, and shopping for anything except the bare essentials. It is a great trial-run for finding out what we can and can’t live without. We also know that unless things improve, there is no end in sight. Welcome to a world with the Coronavirus in full swing.

 

I will spare you the numbers of cases worldwide and in the US, the number of tests done for the virus, and sadly the number of deaths because all numbers are on the rise—every day, every hour.  Makeshift hospitals are being set up at record speeds as this period of time is being compared to a war. And a war it is. A war on humans, on our way of life, on our economy, and certainly on our faith. No one—get this—no one person on earth will escape the effects of this war. We see it and hear it on the news 24/7, and we are growing weary. Unemployment is rising with each new announcement of another company laying off thousands of employees from their jobs. That, my friend, is going to get real—really soon!

 

So, it is war. It is trying times. It is a trial. It could be the end-time shaking that the Bible tells us will come upon all the world. That’s enough to scare the daylights out of most anyone—unless you know who I know.

 

I love this old song sung by George Beverly Shea at so many Billy Graham crusades:

 

“In times like these you need a Savior, in times like these you need an anchor.

Be very sure, be very sure, your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.

This Rock is Jesus. Yes, He’s the One. This Rock is Jesus, the only One.

Be very sure, be very sure, your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.”1

 

Do you have Jesus as your anchor? Is your life clearly anchored in Him? in His Word? in His promises?

 

I want to share one scripture with you that is found in Matthew 23:37 ~ “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”

 

Those are the words of Jesus as He stood on a hill overlooking the city of Jerusalem. He is talking about God’s people—the Jews—who had rejected all the prophets of God down through the centuries. Their religious leaders had set up a form of worship, added to the Laws of God, created a set of rules and regulations developed solely by men, and made their traditions what they worshiped. God had sent prophet after prophet to tell them of the coming judgement if they did not turn from their sin and return to Him. Message after message they chose not to hear. And if the messenger became too loud, they killed him.

 

At last, God sent His only Son, Jesus. Guess what? They didn’t want to hear Him either. They plotted against Him and killed Him too. On that day, when Jesus stood looking over Jerusalem, He fully knew what they were going to do with Him. His fate was already recorded in the Old Testament. He would be killed by God’s own chosen people. His love for them was strong, and His compassion ran deep because the Father had tried over and over to change the outcome for this city.

 

Notice the last phrase of that scripture: “But you wouldn’t let me.” And because they didn’t let Him, Jerusalem was totally destroyed in 70 AD. Today, as we see our beloved United States of America reeling in the turbulent winds of a world pandemic, we wonder if she will be able to stand. Will she make it through? Will she survive these trying times?

 

I don’t have the answers and neither do you. But this is do know. Jesus is looking out over America today and offering to gather us—His little chicks—under His wings of protection until this storm passes—if we are willing to let Him.

 

The little word “if” holds gigantic significance here. Why? Because….

It tells us—His little chicks—who gets to determine the outcome.

It tells us—His little chicks—there is hope on the horizon and a rescue is possible.

It tells us—His little chicks—that we can turn this thing around.

It tells us—His little chicks—that He will fight for us when we choose to do it His way.

 

The question to all of us is this: Are we willing? Have we heard His voice calling out to us as a nation, “America! America!” Have we heard His message? His warnings? His pleadings for us to turn around?

 

Perhaps we need to consider a few things: Has America been faithful to God, like He has been faithful to us? Have we stood for life, truth, justice, mercy, and righteousness? Are we a light to the world? Or are we continuing to ignore His pleadings while our last chance is being offered to us in the middle of these trying times?

 

Only time will tell what America is willing to do. Repentance is the key word, and it must begin with God’s own people. I don’t know about you, but I’m running towards those wings of protection and plan to crawl beneath them, hunker down and stay there as long as necessary—until this storm passes or Jesus comes for His little chicks! How about you?

 

In the next few days and weeks, we will look at repentance, what it means to be under His wings and how to get there, and enduring through tough times. Blessings to all ~ Janie

 

1Ruth Caye Jones, In Times Like These, 1943