In March, no one expected we would be shut out of church indefinitely. Originally, this looked as though it would be a short-term event. Streaming Sunday service was pretty cool at first. It was nice staying at home in my comfy clothes drinking coffee in my favorite chair.
But after four weeks I found myself not singing anymore. I was only half listening and looking at my phone during most of the sermon. The sermons started feeling different as well. Pretty soon I found myself looking for other pastors to watch from old sermon series where people were in the audience. I didn’t like streaming church anymore.
My Heart Has Changed
It is clear now that the live church experience was having a much bigger impact on me each week than I realized. I have found myself far more nervous, anxious, critical, and a bit angry. It seems my pastor was right all along. The weekly Sabbath is critical to restoring my heart and mind to its God-intended baseline. I need a real experience with real people to allow the Holy Spirit to be refueled inside of me each week. I had no idea how badly I would feel and behave without it. I had no idea the impact I would see from when COVID-19 closed my church for in-person services.
Finding New Ways
The loneliness of these days caused me to make more phone calls and find more creative ways to connect with men. I have been meeting with men on my back porch for a Bible study and time to catch up with one another. I have found some men will not even come to meet in person while others not only want to meet but they need a hug and want to take off their mask.
Yet even with these efforts, it feels like the barriers to connecting are rising. It’s hard to explain, but we all seem deeply conflicted by the effects of COVID-19, the push to isolate, and the intense feelings of losing our identity. We know this path is bad, but we do not know what to do.
Jesus, Please Prevail
As a business leader, I am writing a daily email devotion to all my employees to help me stay connected to God’s Word and to lead my people in prayer. I realize through these daily moments I am clinging to Jesus by my fingernails. I am praying that churches all over the world will safely reopen and that people who are comfortable will come to church. I am praying that church will restore my hope and my faith. I am praying that church will help us stop being afraid.
Jesus, we really do need you. I have never felt this need as much as I do right now.