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Our True Refuge

by Joseph Gorman

Kathryn asked me to write a blog for the end of March about two months ago. I struggled for a few weeks with what to write about, but boy have I had a softball land in my lap thanks to the Coronapocalypse. This has been a difficult and unique situation in many different ways, but the thing that sticks out to me the most is just how fragile we are. And I don’t just mean we’re fragile in the sense that our bodies are susceptible to sickness, although that is definitely part of the equation. I mean that every part of our life is fragile. This isn’t a new discovery, and COVID-19 certainly didn’t cause it, it merely shed a little light on the human condition; our condition. We don’t like to think about this inconvenient truth. We like to focus on our careers and our 401k, and making sure we set our children up to be as successful as possible. We like to spend a weekend in Starkville or Oxford watching football and catching up with old friends. We like to sit in our nice sanctuary and worry if the air conditioning is a couple of degrees too warm or too cool. We like to enjoy all of the blessings graciously given by our Father but rarely acknowledge their origin. But then all of a sudden we go from keeping an eye on bubble teams to round out our March Madness bracket to watching the stock market crash and toilet paper fly off the shelves while over three-quarters of a million people worldwide have a virus that we don’t know how to stop. Our economy is fragile, our education system is fragile, our health care system is fragile, our food supply chain and infrastructure are fragile, even our routines are fragile.

If I’m going to be vulnerable for a minute, I must admit I’m struggling most with that last one, and it really surprises me. I guess I’m conditioned to hearing bad news from the 24 hour news cycle and the stock market comes and goes in cycles (to some extent), so none of that has really shaken me. Global crises and Wallstreet dive bombs rarely have direct influence on my day to day life, so it’s easy to feel somewhat distanced from them. But this is different, this IS affecting my daily life. Church is canceled, school is closed, no pickup basketball on Tuesday nights, no going out to eat with friends or meeting up with all of Eli and Lucy’s buddies at the WPC playground, and working funky hours to accommodate the kids being home and Shelby needing to work. My daily / weekly schedule is all out of sorts and it has me out of sorts. My daily prayer and reading is suffering, my attitude towards my family is suffering, and my productivity at work is suffering. This is a hard time, and for those of you like me that usually suck it up, put on a brave face, and try to blow through whatever opposition you may face, let us take this time to remember that we aren’t in any more control when things are “normal” than we are right now. In this crazy time, God is reminding me that I am but a mist or a vapor (James 4:14), and that everything I think I depend on can flip on its head at any moment.

Thankfully, we have a wonderful promise from the one who brings forth the wind that blows the vapor (Psalm 78:26), and he wasn’t caught off guard or surprised by this pandemic (Isaiah 46: 9-10). I was so encouraged by Richard’s sermon last week as he talked about God being our dwelling place in all generations (Psalm 90:1). Long before quarantines and social distancing, and long after, God has been and will be our true refuge. Lots of folks are being told to shelter in place, but we have a better shelter in the Most High (Psalm 91:1). So many things are changing right now, and so many things are unsure, but we can be sure that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Even if there are long term economic impacts that drastically decrease our material possessions and security, we have been granted all things that pertain to life and godliness through His precious and very great promises (2 Peter 1:3-4). And though we aren’t able to gather right now, please remember that you are not alone. Not only does your church family still love and pray for you, the Spirit himself prays for you when you don’t know what to say (Romans 8:26).

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