Pastor’s Update 4/15/2020

Happy Wednesday to All of my Grace Family!
     During these challenging days of COVID-19, we take comfort in knowing that we are not alone in the daily struggles we face.
     First, and foremost, we have our Savior who lived on earth in flesh for 33 years and knows firsthand all the types of trials and testings we face, yet arose victorious over sin and death and is in Heaven at the right hand of His Father interceding for us! He left the Holy Spirit with us, inside us, to comfort, guide, seal, convict, lead, and empower us. He has given us every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Himself! And He has pulled back the curtain of the future to assure us that we win with Him in the end!
     And then, so sweetly, He has given us earthly, “flesh and bones” encouragement, strength, and care in our brothers and sisters in the Lord. At this time, they are truly His hands and feet. Have you been ministered to by the Family? I pray so. Have you ministered blessings to others in our fellowship? I pray so. Cathy and I are so grateful for the cards and calls of love extended to us during this sequestered season
     Aren’t we thankful for Facebook and our Webpage and Zoom! Connection has never been easier. Pastor Mark has had wonderful times of sharing with both his Connections group and his Grace Family Life Group using these mediums. Time spent in quarantine calls us to find creative ways to prioritize our time so it is well spent in personal growth, and not stagnation, and in ministering to others. When this is over, I believe we will each say how much our church family means to us.
     And so we continue to WAIT. Waiting is hard. The disciples, after Jesus’ horrific trials and crucifixion, waited in fear and anxiety behind locked doors. They heard rumors of good news. They had seen evidence of good news at the tomb; yet, they remained huddled together, fearing for their very lives (John 20:19-23). Was He really alive or was that news a hoax to lure them from their hiding place? What should they believe?
     Then, He came to them, right through the locked door, to assure them that His resurrection was indeed the truth! He was alive! Not just a spirit, but their victorious Savior in a glorified body that was somehow very different, yet still had the nail prints and hole in his side that they could really touch with their physical fingers.
     Believers have had to wait from the Fall in the Garden of Eden! They had to wait for God to send a deliverer (Moses) when they were slaves in Egypt; they had to wait for their exodus after the plagues; they had to wait to enter the Promised Land. I could go on for paragraphs reminding you of all the waiting scenarios in the Bible and history. Waiting, like breathing, is necessary to human life.
     Therefore, because it is a necessary, normal part of human life, it should not be trivialized. We take breathing for granted after that first cry of ours splits the air, signaling all is okay with our lungs. After that, it’s on auto-pilot in our lives–we don’t think about it; we just do it several times every minute. That is, until we breathe in a noxious poison gas or we choke and stop breathing.
     Waiting can be like that. We wait in lines, wait 9 months for children, wait for our paychecks. But there are those certain “things” for which we tire of waiting. What’s our remedy? Rushing. Something about the unknown of waiting–how long, what for, and why–causes us great anxiety and restlessness. So, we develop a plan to bring these negative “waiting emotions” to an end. The problem is that many of our “rushing-it plans” end in futility or digging us deeper into a pit.
     Can you remember back to your schemes to bring a waiting period to a quick end? Cathy recalled the waiting period around our first grandchild’s birth. Every mother knows the “seems-like-it-will-go-on-foreverness” of bearing children (their husbands know it, too). This daughter’s husband just happened to get a new job in a mid-American state weeks before her due date. They decided he would go on, get the house, and start the job while she stayed put for the last month of her pregnancy. He would return the week of her due date to be present for the birth, then quickly return to his new job assignment, and her mother and sister would drive her and the baby back when he was a few weeks old. Her husband arrived and they waited. No signs of her body ready to give birth, yet, the clock was ticking. The afternoon before her due date NOTHING was happening. Pressure mounted to have this baby on this date so their plans would work out.
     A plan was devised. We must rush labor. Much was done to accomplish this rushing, not the least were eating eggplant lasagne (Italian wives’ tale sure to bring on contractions) and miles of walking while slugging down a 4-ounce bottle of Castor oil. To shorten this story for all our male readers, she did bear our grandson on her grandfather’s and her birthday when, after her baby’s visit to the NIC-U, she was told that her baby was probably a week premature and they were dealing with some lung issues! We wonder how everything would have progressed had she endured her waiting.
     That little waiting story had a pretty good ending, but think how many do not. King Saul lost the kingdom as God’s rebuke for him not obeying and not waiting for the prophet Samuel to arrive to offer sacrifices to God (I Kings 15). How are you handling the struggles that come each additional day that we are sheltered? Have you made these extreme circumstances your excuse for losing your temper as you get easily irritated; for watching hour upon hour of TV because of lethargy; for letting the kids get by with all sorts of sins and poor choices; for traveling to places on the internet that are defiling your soul; for grumbling and complaining because you are bored? 
     God Himself had come down and tabernacled among 12 disciples, personally tutoring them in the Truth. They had no idea as they waited in confusion and fear in that small room, that in just a mere 50 days after Christ’s resurrection they would be filled with Holy Spirit power from on High, and the result of their bold witness would be the salvation of 3,000 souls! That’s worth waiting for!
     This is our time to wait. We are asked to trust the Lord Who walks through closed doors and offers Himself to us within. May we keep a heavenly perspective on these days, filled with patience, courage, and hope for the blessings that are coming! Could we even imagine that, as we use this quiet time to deepen our knowledge of His Word and our relationship with Him, we will burst our cocoon as a great, bolder, impassioned disciple of Christ to be used by him in greater ways than we envision.
     God bless you all.

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