I've always enjoyed movies or books where we find the characters navigating an "End of the World" or "Post- Apocalyptic" world. Stories such as: Interstellar, A Quiet Place, The Road, The Book of Eli, and many more.
The later 2 especially show how drastic humans can change their character when faced with a crisis situation or a new normal.
How a dire situation can lead humanity to ditch all morality. How killing a man for his shoes becomes an acceptable part of survival.
In our 2020 world we see materialism, social status, and wealth identify personal success and value whether we want to admit it or not.
What's the typical question we ask someone when we meet them?
"What do you do for a living?"
What happens when the foundation we've used to identify ourselves is shaken?
When the new materialism and wealth isn't based on your yearly salary anymore, but in how many rolls of toilet paper you've got hoarded away.
The rich and the poor rush to the stores and push and shove their way to fill their carts with food and supplies to survive on.
This is actually something I've always loved about the wilderness.
The great equalizer of men.
It doesn't care if you're a CEO or a garbage man.
The rain will still fall and get both wet.
How we identify ourselves, what's at the core of who we are, dictates our response to crisis situations when life as we know it changes.
How do you identify yourself?
If I ask myself that question, my answer lies in my spiritual beliefs.
I think in trying times, we find out what we're made of.
I believe what is at the core of our being is the foundation to our worldview, and leads our response during a crisis situation.
What gives us hope, peace, joy?
Our spiritual beliefs are where our response for a crisis situation lies.
I've caught myself often in the last few days scrolling on Facebook or Instagram, and it seems like everyone is posting, sharing information about the virus.
What happened to all the cute videos of puppies?
No doubt that people sharing info about the virus is coming from a good place, a place of caring for their online friends, but as my friend Pam said about all the virus related posts: "I don't want to downplay the severity of what's going on right now, but I need a break from all the negativity... even the jokes and memes."
I realized how my anxiety, fear and worry increases significantly after 5 minutes of scrolling and reading.
Then I swiped Facebook away and opened my Bible App. I read Psalm 23 and spent 5 minutes meditating on it.
What a difference that made.
Realigning myself back to my faith. Grounding myself back to the foundation of my being, like how a child runs into the arms of a parent in a time of fear and finds comfort. Like one of my favourite Pearl Jam songs goes: "I study your face, and the fear goes away."
Here are some verses to consider meditating on after your 5 minutes of Facebooking.
Jesus folk or not, check these verses out.
Consider reading these as "studying Father God's face":
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
As a part time pastor in my small church I know I will be active during this "extreme social distancing" period as we are told to follow. Making phone calls, organizing volunteers to help do drop offs of essential items/ food/ etc. to the vulnerable, making videos with God thoughts, connecting online with people, spending time in prayer for our community, our government, health care workers, the sick and their family members, everyone who will experience financial hardship, etc.
I do believe that this is an opportunity for Jesus following folks to truly be a light in the darkness. To be advocates of love, hope, peace, and joy to our communities during this uncertain time.
As the Bible teaches:
To love one another
To bear one another's burdens
To pray for one another
To serve one another
My prayer is that this virus, as serious as it is, can be used by God to bring about a shift of thought. Where our self focused mindsets can move towards a servant heartedness. Where we learn to view this virus though the eyes of the more vulnerable.
We may be isolated, but let's make sure nobody feels alone.
When talking about Jesus, John says:
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it."
Every act of servant hearted love is shining the light of Jesus into the darkness.
I hear enough from articles or online friends how being a Christian is negative.
In times of crisis, its actions which speak loudest.
My fellow Christians, the time to show the world the love of Jesus is upon us.
If you read this and think, "Sounds good, but how can I focus on others when I'm feeling such panic, anxiety, worry?"
Take a moment to read those verses above, or take some time to bring yourself into a state of worship. Another practice to study the face of God, and can help pull us out of despair.
Here is a link to one of my favourite bands The City Harmonic- "Praise the Lord"
Want more? Click here.
I'd like to start shining the love of Jesus by offering my time to pray for any requests you have.
Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll reply with my written/video prayer for you.
If you read this and think all this religious talk doesn't appeal to you, consider this: My faith denomination is Anabaptism. I am a Mennonite. Believe it or not, they both came from being Religious Badasses for their time. Not being conformed by religion or man, but a desire to know and follow the God of the Bible in an authentic way, learning to love the world like Jesus did.
Let's be there for one another, being the hands and feet of Jesus. That will get us through this together.
Tag me in your Instagram photos: @pauleppic with photos that bring you peace and joy !
Love and Peace to you all.
(Nova with cousin Ava at the beach)