“Have. Faith. In. God.”
The periods are mine, but it was my pastor’s charge. He issued it March 15 on our first worship-at-home Sunday morning, more than nineteen weeks ago.
That day, my peeps and I had congregated in our pajamas. It seemed like a holiday of sorts, an opportunity to truly enjoy a Sabbath rest, focusing on the service while we snuggled under blankets, sipped our cups of coffee, munched on honey toast, and licked the icing off toaster strudel. Soul-stirring goodies. I nodded my head as my pastor reminded us that we can’t save ourselves by running to the grocery store.
I slurped from my cup and murmured, “Amen.” Of course, I’d already stockpiled my peanut butter, ground beef, and cans of tuna, not to mention boxes of butter, oatmeal cream pies, and spicy pork rinds. I’d doused nearly everything and everyone we knew with Lysol and stowed away bottles of water. And I’d found a convenient spot to store my “what-ifs,” the invisible crutches I’d limped around on since I’d spotted my first “masked man.”
Yet, of all the possibilities that had crossed my mind, never once did I think, “What if we have to livestream church every Sunday for who-knows-how-long, not just the next two weeks? What if every day becomes a pajama day? What if Songbird’s spring break gets permanently ‘extended,’ bookstores close, and the little people drink all the French vanilla creamer?”
I never considered we’d have enough money but find little food on grocery shelves, gas in the car but nowhere to go; time to write and plenty to read but no energy, focus, or desire to type or concentrate on a single letter; and that COVID-19 actually would come a-callin’ at our family’s door the moment we were looking elsewhere.
No, these possibilities never crossed my mind. If they had, I would’ve worried less about toilet paper, hand soap, and Oscar Mayer bacon and more about masks, Tylenol, and cough medicine.
But I didn’t. I was caught pretty much unawares until one Sunday before we turned our sofas into church pews, when the pastor paused praise and worship so a doctor could explain the value of waving instead of hugging, of greeting with a nod instead of a handshake. At that moment, someone coughed in the multitude, my eyes locked with Hubby’s, and I thought about scooting over…farther away from my flesh-of-my-flesh. I whispered to Songbird, “Should we be worried?”
Not according to my pastor. And he’d heard it straight from the trusted Source.
By now, you might have detected a pattern: I treasure Sunday mornings. They serve as a great time and place to hear some Good News I can use. Unlike my mama, I’m not one to tune into the local television station at six and eleven p.m. daily. Instead, I try to cast all those sound bites along with my cares right there at Jesus’ feet (1 Peter 5:7). Every now and again, I retrieve some informative tidbit and nibble on it, but I do my best to fix my eyes on Him…and Hubby, my little people, my writing, books, and Hulu.
Yet, fixing my eyes on Jesus doesn’t mean staring at the cross mounted behind the pulpit, and what a blessing, considering the church doors are locked and its parking lot is off limits! It’s not about streaming sermons, pouring over devotionals, or toting around my Bible. After all, I don’t become less of a parent when I leave my peeps at home, and I haven’t transformed into a supermom after sheltering with them for 3,400+ hours. Proximity doesn’t change our familial relationship.
And my spiritual relationship doesn’t depend on what I think about. These days, all the “what-ifs” chafe my inner man as much as these walls chafe my outer one. Sometimes, I find it hard to focus on the firm truths Paul talked about in (Philippians 4: 8, 9):
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
No matter how far my mind strays or where my body sits, however, I am forever in Christ, and He is forever in me, just as Paul emphasized in 1 Corinthians 3:16 when he asked, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” He might as well have said, “Child, don’t you know God is not hovering like a cloud over that pile of brick-and-mortar or burning in the candles on the altar?” When Jesus saved me, He erected a temple of flesh, and within it—within me—His Holy Spirit dwells. Whether it’s Sunday morning or Saturday night. Whether I’m perched in a pew or propped up in my bed. Period.
So, yes, you’d best believe I have faith in God.
Because I don’t know if the man in the grocery store has allergies or COVID-19, if my eyes show I’m smiling behind my mask, or if Songbird will practice social distancing when she’s away at college..I trust God to handle it.
Because I haven’t seen my folks in over a month; I have to shout so my neighbors will hear what I’m saying from across the road; and despite all our hunkering down at home with our laptops, canned goods, overdue library books, and little people eating ketchup-covered hot dogs on my cream-colored sofas, we still managed to contract the virus…I faithfully sing God’s praise from my family room because He’s made His home right here.
Because we’re facing a world of trouble, sickness, unknowns, disappointments, fears, empty school yards, bickering politicians, hungry children, raided shelves, long lines, and upheaval, and I’ve struggled to pray, petition, sing, or smile about it all. I must trust all is well even though not everybody has been and not everything looks that way. And not because my pastor said so. It’s because the Bible tells me so. I believe him because I believe HIM, the one true God.
Sunday mornings in my church now look like God has called us all home. Not the earthly one I’m still borrowing from the bank but the heavenly one He’s preparing for us all on that “great gettin’-up morning.” Yet, my temple is full to capacity because I have faith that even now, especially now, He is readying our hearts for that move-in day each morning, noon, and night.
Until then, fare thee well. Fare thee well.
Robin W. Pearson’s writing sprouts from her Southern roots, her faith in Jesus Christ, and the love of her sweet husband, seven children, and the pickiest, most precious dog on the planet, Oscar. In her twenty-five year editorial career, she’s corrected grammar up and down the East coast, and her debut novel, A Long Time Comin’, has earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Her second novel, ’Til I Want No More, releases February 2021. Follow @RobinWPearson on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and RobinWPearson.com to read about her adventures in faith, family, and homeschooling.
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