We have been given a gift, perhaps in an unusual way, but nonetheless a gift. A gift of time. But what are we doing with it. We have been freed from our routines, freed from traffic and daily grinds. But what have we done with our freedom. I heard on the news this morning that despite the added time on our hands, most of us are working out less, most of us are falling into poor eating habits and most of us are adding more screen time into our lives. If the coronavirus doesn’t get us, our own sloth and gluttony certainly might.
Most churches have closed. What have we done to stay connected to God? Have we opened the Bible? Have we taken time to pray? What are we doing to stay close to God when it is not offered to us on a silver platter? What are we doing to praise Him? To thank Him for all of the abundance that we still have even if we are currently suffering?
Today I opened up the Bible to the book of Samuel and I read these words:
If you fear and serve the LORD, if you listen to the voice of the LORD and do not rebel against the LORD’s command, if both you and the king, who rules over you, follow the LORD your God—well and good. But if you do not listen to the voice of the LORD and if you rebel against the LORD’s command, the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king.
1 Samuel 12: 14-15
Each of us fails at times, sometimes more than others, to listen to the voice of the Lord. The Lord woke me up the other morning urging me, actually shouting to me, to SPEAK and yet I let work, TV and my cell phone distract me. I look at our country currently, with many churches closed, with governors threatening to quarantine anyone who dares to gather in worship of the Lord, and with abortion clinics being deemed “essential businesses” and I question whether we are listening.
Samuel goes on to say:
“Do not fear,” Samuel answered them. “You have indeed committed all this evil! Yet do not turn from the LORD, but serve him with your whole heart. Do not turn aside to gods who are nothing, who cannot act and deliver. They are nothing. For the sake of his own great name the LORD will not abandon his people, since the LORD has decided to make you his people. As for me, far be it from me to sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you and to teach you the good and right way. But you must fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart, for you have seen the great things the LORD has done among you.
1 Samuel 12: 20-24
I am reminded of a similar verse later, when God tells Solomon:
The LORD appeared to Solomon during the night and said to him: I have heard your prayer, and I have chosen this place for my house of sacrifice. If I close heaven so that there is no rain, if I command the locust to devour the land, if I send pestilence among my people, if then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7: 12-14
Indeed, I was napping after reading Samuel and again I felt God stir me with these words: “if then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land.”
If we look to the governors, and Congress, the CDC and the president, we continue to look in the wrong place. If we focus on the news and social media, we are focusing in the wrong place. If you have listened to them at all, you know… they do not know anything about this virus or how to control it. They have changed their opinions about what to do multiple times. Why do we keep looking to them to save us?
God has told us what we need to do:
“serve the Lord”
“listen to the voice of the Lord”
“Do not fear . . . . You have indeed committed all this evil! Yet do not turn from the LORD, but serve him with your whole heart. Do not turn aside to gods who are nothing, who cannot act and deliver. They are nothing. ”
“serve him faithfully with all your heart”
“humble [your]selves and pray, and seek [God’s] face and turn from [your] evil ways”
And God will hear us from heaven and pardon our sins and heal our land.
On this Easter weekend, may we all arise from the dead in our hearts, may we all break free from the tombs that encase us, may we all witness God’s love, and may we humble ourselves and pray. We are not the solution. Neither Republicans nor Democrats, neither science nor the media, neither anger nor fear is the answer. God is, and always was, the only answer. How quickly we forget when things go well and how quickly we blame when things go bad. May we praise God this Easter and every day with our voices raised wherever we are. We don’t need the church building, we just need to open our hearts, listen to God’s word , and humble ourselves and pray.
You sent your only son into this world because we could not undo the harm that we caused. Redeem us once again. We who have let this world envelope us with material goods. We have allowed “leaders” to cut you out of our lives. And we have chosen gods, including facebook, and cell phones, above you. Awaken us this Easter. We need you. We need you in our lives everyday. Allow us to be reborn. Send forth your Spirit upon us and renew the face of the earth.
We know that we can not cure what is wrong in the world. We need you, Lord. Lord, we pray that you heal our land. And more importantly that you heal our hearts.
Help me to listen more, to serve you more, to not turn to gods who are nothing. You alone are my strength. You alone are my salvation. Heal us Lord, from the inside out.