Holy cow! Is this all crazy, or what? Talk about the world turned upside down!
For me personally I couldn’t think of a more dramatic turn of events. On the very ordinary, common, average, routine day of Sunday, March 1, I was as blessed and at peace as anyone could be.
On that day I celebrated my 70th birthday in perfect health and pretty good shape for an old guy. I officially retired from being a full-time pastor after forty-four years of parish ministry.
And to absolutely top it all off, our family rejoiced and gave thanks for the birth of our new granddaughter, who joined as a sibling to her three older brothers. One of my brothers-in-law declared, “That’s a pretty good week.”
I said, “No, that’s an absolutely phenomenal week!”
Later that week I flew up to Michigan to join Grandma and my daughter’s family with the new baby girl. Besides holding this precious bundle of joy, my job was to be the Grandpa chauffeur, taking the three boys to school and all their other daily and weekly music lessons, sports games, etc., doing the grocery shopping, as well as helping with projects around the house. And I did that for a full week after I arrived. It was a blast.
Meanwhile, my son-in-law stayed very busy in his position as principal of a large high school, and mom and grandma kept busy doing new-baby stuff. Our stay here was to be a little over two weeks with plans then to fly back to Atlanta and resume our continuing responsibilities at Prince of Peace in Fayetteville. Our further schedule had us back and forth a couple more times this spring.
Then it happened. Thursday a week ago. It all changed. Changed big-time. For us it changed over-night when local schools declared their closings on that Friday and beyond, and wisdom, especially in my science-minded family, declared our self-imposed quarantine to protect our Michigan family conclave of three generations from being exposed to this potentially deadly and silent enemy, the Coronavirus, COVID-19.
Since then, as you have also experienced, “everything has changed.” Here in Michigan I no longer drive anyone anywhere nor venture out for groceries or this or that from the hardware store.
Grandma and I have joined with daughter and son-in-law to undertake the day-long homeschooling of our three grandsons. I’m Bible story reader, history teacher, and P.E. coach, which means the others say, “Get these boys outside!” Others lead in their specialty areas. We watch educational videos and try to keep a schedule similar to their previous school days.
Change. More change. And still more change. And we watch enough TV news and follow enough online information to know that not only is more change coming, but we have no idea when the changes will begin to swing back to anything we might recognize as normal. We know that we will not fly back to Atlanta as planned, but rather “hunker down” here for however long it takes, and to be honest, we are so glad we are here as all this is going on.
Change. More change. And still more change. But we know, trust, and believe with all our hearts that not everything has changed. As Christians, we are confident that God has absolutely not changed.
Just as He was with us and for us as the good times were rolling along and our days were full of abundant and clear blessings spiritually, physically, and economically, so He remains the same even now in the middle of these uncertain times and the changes and unknowns that raise fears, questions, and anxiety even in the hearts of the most grounded people of faith in Him.
What about the power of this virus? Well, in our fallen world it punches a great deal of power. In our fallen world there remains the unfortunate reality of the power of sin, death, and the devil. In our fallen world there remains the reality of the power of disease and death. In our fallen world, left to ourselves we would remain not yet back in the perfect relationship with God.
But here’s where God has not changed and remains the same. He is with us and He is for us. After The Fall He promised to send the One who would overcome and win victory over sin, death, and the devil. And God kept His promise in sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, to live the perfect life and die the perfect death on His cross so that our sin, our Fall, might be forgiven, and the curse of The Fall might be removed from us.
Of course, His glorious resurrection from the dead gives us the assurance of eternal life with Him and all the redeemed in heaven. Amen. That is the Good News.
So what do we do in these days of uncertainty? As the sameness of God continues on through these days, so also the sameness of our faith and confidence in Him continues.
This virus will take its toll, but will never win the final victory. God has already done that in Christ. That is the sameness we can believe in and trust completely. And the sameness of our call to be His disciples and love and serve the world in His way remains for us.
Here is our prayer: “Dear Heavenly Father, we pray for Your Gracious Power to fall upon us and lift us in these times. We pray for the safety of our medical personnel and first responders, for the scientists working diligently to find medicines to cure and vaccines to prevent, and for our elected leaders at every level of government. We pray for us as a nation that we might take this invisible enemy seriously and be good stewards of ourselves and of our families. Grant Your Healing and Protection to those already infected and give Your Comfort and Peace to those who have already lost loved ones. Give us all Your Power and Peace in these days. In Your Victorious Name, O Jesus, we pray. Amen
[Kollmeyer is Pastor Emeritus at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville. www.princeofpeacefayette.org. Find Prince of Peace and Pastor Scott Ness on Facebook.]