My head is swimming after the last couple of days. I am watching the pandemonium. I understand the need to be prepared. My wife bought the last dozen eggs (11 really, for some reason someone took one egg out) and we are thankful. But we did not buy 100 dozen eggs…or 100 of anything. The reason for the empty shelves runs deeper than simple preparedness. Folks are scared. Listen to this: Christians have no reason to fear. We do not fear viruses, death or the end times. We do fear the Lord of Heaven and Earth. My friend Bob Utley said this the other day, “The fear that is gripping America right now is a good indication of our lack of belief in a God who saves. America is filled with people who know the name of Jesus but do not bear the character of Jesus.”
My goal in saying this is not to point fingers or guilt anyone for buying too much toilet paper. I see a deeper threat than a run on Charmin. I believe we have an opportunity with this virus to speak and demonstrate peace to a world that is out of control. Are you willing to look to Jesus for peace when the rest of the world is glaring at everyone with a wary eye?
One of my favorite stories in the New Testament finds Jesus’ best friends in a tight spot. Both Matthew and Mark recount this story. It follows the feeding of the 5000. Jesus makes His friends get in a boat bound for Bethsaida. Jesus, however, did not join them. He went up on the mountain to pray. The disciples met a storm that kept them in the water. They labored against the wind that way most of the night. Mark tells us that Jesus saw them; He knew they were struggling but He waited until the night was almost over to go to them. The wind, their invisible enemy, was fierce. They were tired, worn out even. Yet, Jesus watched.
Mark tells us when He did finally come He meant to pass them by but the disciples saw Him and were afraid, thinking He was a ghost. Jesus heard their cries and turned towards them. His piercing words hit us still. “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” As soon as Jesus got in the boat with His friends the wind ceased.
The enemy we are fighting today is just as pushy as the wind the disciples resisted. Jesus was not being neglectful by waiting or even by intending to pass them by. He told them He would meet them in Bethsaida and that is what He was going to do. But then they saw Him. The wind was not going to overtake them. It wasn’t too much, but the sight of Him walking on the water was! Jesus showed them His strong position as Lord over the world that is felt but unseen. Our position today is no different.
Are you overwhelmed by the effects of this virus? If so, know your Shepherd is not far off. The stormy chaos we are experiencing right now is not too much for Him. He can quickly and easily traverse these waters. Over and over in the Bible we see God respond to those who ask. These disciples cried out for help. What are you doing? Pressing on with nerves of steel might get you and your family through this crisis, but it will not help your neighbor. Are you willing to cry out for “Help!” to the only One who can actually do something about this pandemic? Do you believe He will meet you where you are or are you convinced He will pass you by?
The good Shepherd we know will never look you over for someone more deserving. You and I are much loved by the One who made us; the One who bends Heaven down to care for us; the One who will stop at nothing to make Himself known to us. Do you believe that?
The world is driven by the idea that says we must avoid as much pain as possible. The Gospel runs contrary to this philosophy. The world runs away from fearful things but we run toward them. Christians have a responsibility to exhibit the nature of Christ; the attitude that believes Jesus can still speak “Peace” and things will actually get better. For this reason and to offer our community as much hope as possible we are opening our doors every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:05-12:25 for prayer. We will practice social distancing and promise as disinfected a facility as Clorox can provide. We will not gossip or spread pandemonium. On the contrary, we will cry out to Jesus, asking Him to get in our boat and calm our storm. This is not a First Baptist thing. This is Body of Christ thing. The response to the wake of this virus is as varied as the Corn Flakes in my bowl this morning, each of them unique and most of them valuable, but none of them offering health and sustenance all on their own. These times of prayer are just that, times of prayer. Nothing more and nothing less. Will you join us? Will you trust the One who offers you His heart? You can keep rowing if you want. I choose to cry out