The majority of Americans were either so mad or so afraid during the early stages of COVID19 that their time at home was spent… worrying.We stewed and grumbled.We complained about the government.As church leaders, many of us were concerned that our church finances would be ruined and that no one would come back from the forced break.Now, as many churches are reopening, we are finding out that… people are coming back and the church finances are going to be alright.The people that are dealing with illness or setbacks are seeing that God is in the midst of that as well.We are going to be ok.We are going to make it.
I believe that many people will look back at their time during the COVID19 quarantine and say something like, “If I had known that things would turn out well, I would have enjoyed my time stuck at home.” In essence, many Americans have had weeks of free time that we haven’t seen since our childhood. However, the time at home didn’t feel like a vacation. Instead, it felt like a prison. So many of us were unable to enjoy the time at home because our minds were trapped in the suspense of the unknown.
How do we drift so far from the assurance of God’s provision? Why do we spend so much of our emotional energy struggling? It is bizarre that we can have so much knowledge of God in our head and yet, our heart feels something different. Seriously, most of our minds are filled with facts about God. Theoretically, we should not feel this way. There seems to be a disconnect.
In my household, we have one of the most vulnerable people around. My daughter is severely mentally and physically disabled. In the womb, her brain did not form correctly, and as a result, the doctors gave her just months to live. They predicted that she would die from the flu or pneumonia within a year. For the first 5 or 6 years, we entered into flu season thinking, “Is this the year.” She has defied the odds and lived for 18 years. However, her life is extremely different from you and me. She is unable to use any of her limbs, she can’t speak, she can’t eat by mouth, and she requires 24 hour assistance.
We lived in that cloud of unknown for so long.It was exhausting.Constantly trying to move forward in life without knowing what that might look like was draining.These scenarios were not only challenging to suffer through from a practical standpoint, but a continual barrage over the years reinforced a loud message that we were not going to make it. They figuratively said things to us like, “You have no future. You cannot sustain this. You will run out of money. No one understands you. No one has the capacity to be your friend. You need to give up.”
As the world goes through 2020, negative messages bombard us. If we listen to them unprepared, we will be swept away on a journey far from home. We will travel from wholeness to a land of bitter, angry, lost, loneliness, and incompleteness. Most people live in this spot separated from the truth of God. As a result, we try to find our way back to peace in any way possible. Humans spend billions of dollars to get our minds off the mess. We try anything we can to distract ourselves, change our surroundings, or buy our way out of it. In 2020, alcoholism, drug use, suicides have all sky-rocketed.
The only thing that genuinely led Erica and I back home was hearing our Father’s voice. I love what Augustine of Hippo said, “The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home.” The voice of our Father speaks truth amidst the chorus of confusing voices. In my darkest hours, the only thing that has assured my peace has been the truth of God’s voice. Hearing His voice and finding ways to center our lifestyle around it preserves the state of our hearts and minds.
When Jesus walked through desert times (literally a desert), he was tempted by the devil to believe that he was not whole. The only thing that Jesus used to combat the voice of the devil was the voice of his Father! Jesus said something amazing about pursuing voices of the earth versus the words of his Father: “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4 NLT). Basically, Jesus was saying, “Don’t rely on what people say around you. Don’t even rely on what this world can provide for you (even if you like the taste). Instead, your heavenly Father’s words are continuing to come towards you. Live off of those.”
This is a beautiful way to live. Jesus was anchored in peace because he chose to listen to the truth from his heavenly Father instead of the words and facts shouting at him. You could make a case that Jesus knew the words of God because he was God himself. However, when Jesus addresses the devil, he uses the words of the Hebrew Bible. Word for word, Jesus quotes the Bible when confronted with the option to believe a lie. This example teaches us that God’s Word is like a fountain that continually flows; it is relevant and personal. We can both hear it and read it in the Bible. We all know that we can learn a lot from literature. However, few believe that books can literally speak to you in the moment. The Bible offers just that.
When COVID19 started, Erica and I were ready. We have had such bulletproof faith about our family’s health. It was almost like we had been through a pandemic boot camp with our daughter. Our experience with her and how it drove us to the voice of God gave us assurance that He was in control. No matter what is going on around us (or even in our own home), we can trust that God is speaking and that is all that matters.
Portions of this article are taken from Robin’s new book: “How To Be Made Whole” which chronicles the profound message of God’s acceptance and control of our lives. Find out more on Pastor Robin’s website at mademeaningful.com.
Robin Steele is the founder and lead pastor of PromiseLand Church in San Marcos, TX. Over the last sixteen years, they have gone from thirty people to a membership well over 2,000. PromiseLand is a multi-ethnic, multi-generational congregation that impacts people from all walks of life. Robin loves to teach, disciple, invest in pastors, hunt, fish, snow ski and ride his mountain bike (real fast) over crazy terrain!
In 2001, Robin and his wife, Erica, received the news that their newborn baby had a severe brain abnormality and would only live for six months or so. Their daughter, Kennady, just turned 18 years old and continues to defeat the odds. She lives with many disabilities and requires twenty-four hour care. Robin speaks all over the world about the incredible life lessons they have learned along the way. They have two sons as well: Jude and Avery.