The plans are finally happening. Soon we will be opening up the church for worship once again. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was a little more than excited. The first couple of Sundays will be limited as we do some trial runs to make sure were doing things properly. Behind the scenes there has been much planning and discussion about how to do this in the safest way possible. We’ve been away from each other too long and, when you come back, we want you to be able to focus completely on your worship.
I want to thank you that you have remained committed to the church since our absence and I hope that, through this trial, you have remained steadfast in your faith. There is always that worry that people will get too used to staying at home when they’ve been away for a time and, when it runs into months away, it can become tempting to keep sleeping in on Sundays. I pray that your dedication to God has not waned and that you look forward to coming back together as much as I do. Being away is in itself a testing of your faith. With so much extra time, it can be tempting to put off your faith for other things. I pray that this testing has resulted in just the opposite. Hopefully being away has made you come to realize how much worshipping with each other has meant to you.
To be tested is not foreign thing to any of us. In little ways we face them every day. How am I going to handle this situation of injustice that makes me mad? How patient am I going to be when they tell me I have to continue to be confined to my home? How loving am I going to be when someone cuts me off in traffic? In small ways we are tested every day, but with each instance we have the chance to grow. James 1:2-4 gives some good advice. It says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Soon we will be able to come together as a family in Christ and what a blessing that will be. But, in the meantime, the devil will continue to work on your “steadfastness.” He wants you to stay away when our opportunity to assemble again is finally here. He will remind you how comfortable your bed has been every Sunday morning that you’ve been forced to stay away. He will try to coax you with false promises that you don’t need to come back, that your faith is strong enough. If this happens, please count on God to lead you back to where people need you. Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” God works through you and I and we are much stronger together where our assorted gifts can benefit each other.
Now, I don’t tell you this because I fear you won’t be just as active, hopefully even more active, then you have ever been. I tell you this because I know how the devil works. He will use this pandemic any way he can to separate you from God. He will test you again and again and he knows all your buttons. Remain steadfast in your faith and let this separation strengthen your resolve as a warrior for Christ. Romans 12:1-2 makes this plea, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Trust in God in all things, especially during times of testing. Ignore the devil and his ungodly advice. I’m very excited to see you all once again even if you’re behind a mask and I’m behind plexiglass. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, we have been forced to worship you in other ways and we thank you that you have provided all we need to remain steadfast in our faith. When the devil tries to persuade us we don’t need you, give us the faith to brush him off. When he tries to convince us we don’t need each other, remind us how false that truly is. We are so excited to be with you in one body again, give us patience and strength as we anticipate that day so that we come with happy hearts and a true willingness to grow even deeper in our faith in You. Amen.