I don’t have much to say these days.
Everywhere I look there seems to be a voice offering some kind of advice, or encouragement, or statistic, or distraction. I honestly feel assaulted with help.
Yet, I also feel so much pressure to add to that sound, to speak up and have something poignant to say that will point people to Jesus and make it seem like I’m doing okay.
Over the past 2 weeks my country, and my state in particular, has been ushered into the real-life experience of a global pandemic. A virus spreading too easily, call it COVID-19 or fear, but it’s all happening and lives are shaking from the realities of panic and sickness and loss. What started as a problem on the other side of the world a few months ago became our problem. We’re still reeling, in a lot of ways.
So as doors have closed, people have self-isolated, and businesses have had to majorly adapt, I have found myself in a familiar position: Isolated, and this time with a good reason.
I genuinely didn’t come here with an end goal in mind, but thought that if I wrote it would probably be for my benefit. I’ve been scared and anxious and unsure about the future, because of COVID-19. But these emotions are ones I have felt before for different reasons, and I’ve withdrawn into busyness or pretending or straight up isolation. What’s different this time is there are thousands upon thousands of people all over the world doing the same thing. We’ve been told to isolate.
There are so many options for me to connect virtually with others: zoom calls, live streams, phone calls, video chats, marco polo, text messages, YOU NAME IT.
But none of it feels right because when I’m scared. When I’m unmotivated and depressed because the future seems so unsure, I don’t want to be seen on a screen, never mind in real life. I don’t want to have to fess up to the negative feelings I’m experiencing because somewhere deep down I believe that those feelings mean I’ve failed. Deep down, feelings of anxiety and depression and lack of motivation (that I DEFINITELY experience) mean I don’t have enough faith. Those feelings get in the way of being successful or productive or loved.
Early on in the self-isolating movement encouraged by state and federal officials, I had this feeling: like, maybe this time could be really powerful spiritually. Finally I had zero excuses to not spend hours on my knees before the Lord, I had no excuse to neglect His word, I had all the time in the world to pull out my guitar and worship like I know I’m supposed to. Truly, this time would be the spark I know my soul needs for a personal revival. And what if, what if my personal revival is the very ticket to the Holy Spirit moving in my community, my state, my country, my world?
I’ve seen it, I’ve read about it, revival often comes from passionate young people during times of hardship seeking Jesus with reckless abandon.
Surely this time at home with endless time was my moment.
But you know what I discovered instead? When you make meeting with God a goal, a checklist, a ticket to something bigger, you can’t actually connect with God. Because when I’m looking to be with God “so that…“, I miss Him completely. What God actually desires is simply me, sitting with Him, ceasing to MAKE something happen, ceasing to strive.
And do you know what I discovered instead? I am terrified to sit before the Lord, because I am just not sure what He’s going to say.
Do you know what I mean?
Here I am, in the midst of a global pandemic that has put a pause on my job, stopped my ministries from meeting, and seemingly shut down my whole country, afraid of what my God might ask of me. Just how bad do I really expect Him to be?
My heart and soul longs to lay aside my distractions, to truly connect with my God, because I know that’s exactly what I was made for. I remember sweet seasons of my youth, hours spent on my bedroom floor pouring over Scripture and delighting in the presence and fellowship of Jesus. I have seen miracles. I have seen the Holy Spirit change people, which is possibly the greatest miracle of all.
I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but around 7 years ago or so, I began to hide. I began to think that my feelings and my sensitivities were a weakness, they were a distraction from a real life to be lived. I began to think that God wanted me to grow up and be productive. I slowly moved from a sweet place of laughter and tears and shared moments with my God, to a place of working hard to show Him I could be an adult. I had a degree to obtain, a ministry to lead, people to change. I wanted to make Him proud.
Oh, my heart laughs and cries at the same time now as I look back and realize how much I missed the mark. God is the one who has given me all I have: a degree, a ministry to lead, people to love and minister to. I make Him the most proud when I sit at His feet and laugh and cry and share my days with Him. Because it’s all His anyway. My life is His, my breath is His, my people are His, my talents are His, my future is His. While it seems scary to have so much to lose, without Him I wouldn’t have any of it to begin with. My God is not a harsh dictator, ready to strip my life of joy. He is a loving Father.
So it makes sense that I don’t want to be seen, because I realize now that I have been dwelling in the wrong camp for so many years. But He sees me, He knows right where I am. These past 14 days or so, as I have cried and wondered what might come, my heart has begun to realize that in the midst of tragedy and fear there really is a great opportunity for revival. It’s just happening in a way I didn’t expect.
God doesn’t want my performance (surely I know that, but do I live it?). With all of my to-do lists and schedules cleared, I hear Him saying, “I don’t want you to check off a Bible reading list, I don’t want you to check all the boxes of being with Me. I don’t want you to be with me to accomplish something. I AM what you need.”
I am more afraid of missing Him than I am of any worldly loss, and that’s saying something coming from the walking ball of anxiety I’ve become this last year and a half.
Maybe, maybe what I need to learn in this season is that my God is sovereign and I can truly rest in Him. How many lessons of rest will I have to learn before it sticks? My reading of the history of Israel tells me I could keep learning for a long time, or I could soften my heart and lean into my God.
It’s okay that I’m scared, it’s okay that I don’t know what’s next.
I don’t have to have the answers and I don’t have to produce anything to make Him proud.
I can simply come to Him, tears on my cheeks, with anxiety shaking me through and through.
I’ve been here before, I know He doesn’t turn me away.
I can be honest because I know that God is good. In my darkest season the only song I could muster was the old hymn/chorus “God Is So Good” and in this season it is the same song that comes my my heart and my lips when I just don’t know what else to say:
God is so good
God is so good
God is so good, He’s so good to me
He answers prayer
He answers prayer
He answers prayer, He’s so good to me
He has done great things
He has done great things
He has done great things, He’s so good to me
He loves me so
He loves me so
He loves me so, He’s so good to me
The world will never offer me the security I tend to believe it will. My anxiety and self isolation in days of peace are evidence of that. I wasn’t made for this world, I was made to love and be loved by the Creator of it. When I truly spend my days in step with Him, that’s when I’ll have something to say; because instead of trying to prove who I am to Him, I will just be His.