Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Come close

MR. ROGERS’ advice to “look for the helpers” in a time of crisis hasn’t been hard to exercise over the past few weeks. I’ve been filled with gratitude at all the people working selflessly during the coronavirus pandemic—from health workers and first responders to delivery persons and supermarket staff. Who knew the latter jobs could pose enormous safety risks?

Their examples have been an inspiration. As have all those examples of people doing their bit to boost spirits—from professional musicians hosting at-home concerts to amateurs breaking out their instruments for a jam with neighbors on their balconies. It’s all been humans at their best.

But there’s been another stream bubbling up, too—anxiety, agitation, and anger. People hoarding stuff and pointing the finger rather than lending a hand. That ugly side is likely only going to grow as the stresses increase. And when we finally come through it all, many will be struggling with huge loss and looking for someone to blame.

All of which makes this a time of great opportunity and responsibility for the church. It’s important that we become the peacemakers Jesus commended in His Sermon on the Mount.

However, we can’t offer others what we don’t have ourselves. So, in addition to helping others in whatever way we can right now, one of the best things we might do in this season of enforced inaction is seek and receive the peace Jesus promised to give His people.

In John 20:19-23 we read that after His death and resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples, “the doors being locked where [they] were for fear of the Jews.” He stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” And then He “breathed on them.”

How remarkable. Jesus came to people who were socially isolated and fearful, to give them His peace. Does that sound relevant? And His manner of giving them His peace? To breathe on them!

Now, I am not suggesting we do the same thing. We should follow the best advice of the experts and not jeopardize others’ health, no matter how innocently we might act. But during a time of social distance, maybe God is calling His people to spiritual intimacy, so that we can be filled with the peace that is—and will even more be—so needed. As the world says keep back, God says come near.

You need to be close for someone to breathe on you—that’s the essence of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Maybe somewhere in the busyness and disruption of our new schedules we need to make time to inhabit Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Photo on Foter.com

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