By Lisa Jenkins-Moore
Though I’ve had the privilege of many memorable experiences in my life, I regret that I’ve never learned to surf. It’s possible I might still be able to learn, but as I age I’m less prone to try adventures with a higher possibility of bodily harm. So, I live vicariously through surfers in movies and videos. As a water skier, I know the tremendous feeling of moving water under my feet, but can only imagine the rush of catching that perfect wave, balancing my board just right, angling it into the precarious swell, and riding it to the end for a dramatic finish!
While some see only danger in the swell, others see a challenge to rise above and conquer.
The broadcast news and social media feeds have been filled with COVID-19 reports. My heart hurts for children whose only safe refuge and sustenance comes from the public school system. I pray for the elderly and the immunocompromised who worry about catching a highly transmissible virus. Most of all, I mourn for those who face the uncertainty of the future without relationship with a loving God.
Psalm 91 has been quoted more than ever in the last few months, and it is certainly a comfort for those who know Christ, yet I’m still astonished by the level of fear that abounds even among Believers. The Bible clearly states that this life is but a vapor and when we place our trust in Christ, death is not to be feared. Yet we fear death. We fear the unknown. We imagine the worst.
It’s interesting to note the words used in Psalm 91: “He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God, in Him will I trust.” Could the difference between those who fear and those who don’t be the word “dwell?” I’ve searched my heart during this crisis and time after time I find comfort knowing God sits on His throne and nothing takes Him by surprise. We started taking precautions before we were ordered to because my 90-year-old grandfather lives with us. Nevertheless, my husband is an RN, on the frontlines of this pandemic so in the natural, we have every reason to be anxious and fearful. But we are not. We are pressing into Jesus, spending time in His Word, and in prayer, knowing that our times are in His hands.
Now that our usual always-on-the-go lifestyles have come to a screeching halt we have time to reflect on our values. Are we living our lives with an eternal perspective or have we become ensnared in the American dream? If my newsfeed is any indication of what’s happening around the nation, it looks as if many people have enjoyed much needed family time, rest, restructure, organization, and re-evaluation of their crazy busy lives. Yes, people are suffering, but the truth is that people are always suffering, and this interruption has allowed us to look beyond our bubble and recognize those in need.
In September of 2001, I was at home watching the news as the planes hit the towers. I was a newlywed and suddenly my perspective on the future changed. Would I have children? Would my children be in a safe world? Would my friends be called to war? The anxiety overwhelmed me as I imagined the worst. You might remember that the following Sunday, churches were filled to capacity as folks ran to the one place they considered safe to encounter the One who could provide true solace.
What if we lived in the secret place? What if we never left the shelter of the Almighty, but instead made Him the focus, the one desire of our every breath? Visiting isn’t the same as dwelling, paying homage once a week on Sunday isn’t the same as daily, or even hourly relationship. If every cloud has a silver lining, my prayer is that this unforeseen crisis will stir our hearts to move closer to Jesus, the one who holds the world in His hands. James 4:8 reminds us to “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” If God seems distant, it is we who have moved.
Let us renew our focus, adjusting our eyes to see Him, know Him, and dwell in His presence. Only then will the swells of this life be viewed as challenges to overcome rather than dangers that will take us out. As we place our trust in Him, our perspectives change. Hope in God, for “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).