For many folks, these last few weeks have become a whirlwind of emotion and stress. Not too long ago, we were planning for events and experiences that would propel us into new stages of our lives. Weddings, graduations, careers, tournaments, competitions, and other parts of our culture that have become commonplace. Today we live in a different world, at least for a time. We live in a world of waiting and wonder. The latest news update from the president or the governor bursts forth from our schedule as we listen intently to see how wide the virus has spread and what new limitations force us to get to know the people who are closest to us in ways that we might never have considered before.
Businesses are scrambling to know how best to support employees during this time. Churches are searching for new ways to keep a community of people together when physical distancing is becoming more normal. Therapists are scheduling more patients even doing so remotely because the fear grips at the very core of our being. Through this new medical war we are learning a lot about who we are as people and about what motivates us to do what we do.
This past Sunday morning I woke up at 3 am hoping that the worship service we had planned for our church was completely posted to the internet. People were anxious about not gathering together and wanted some gathering point even if the gathering point was online. It took about forty five seconds for me to walk down the hall to learn that my hope was not reality. The worship service had not posted. The file was too large. Now these are not issues I am used to or equipped to handle. Stress set in quickly. Failure screamed in my head. Disappointment criticized me by telling me that yet again I was letting everyone down. Control stabbed me and forced me to find a way to fix it all in just a few short hours. No matter how hard I tried, I failed at every attempt. I turned to the Lord and prayed that He would demonstrate His power over technology by making things work. He didn't choose to respond according to my desire.
By 11:00 am the avalanche of all my past was crashing around me internally. I desperately tried to hide it. Frustration mounted around me so the only thing I knew to do was to pretend that everything was okay. I had posted a link on our website to Gateway Baptist Church in Irmo, South Carolina. A close friend of mine leads worship at Gateway, and I knew that if friends and family would find that link, his pastor's heart would pour out through music to minister to them and bring them to the throne of God. What I discounted was how the Lord would use Jeremy's heart for leading God's people to remind me of a simple truth.
As we watched and listened to the music part of the worship, the Holy Spirit began to speak to me.
Not audibly, yet clearly. The earth that had fallen around me began to settle, and rescue headed my way. The voices of defeat from my past continued to scream, yet the Holy Spirit's sweet whisper overcame the voices. Jeremy had been in a small group I was part of when Karen and I first started youth ministry. His family and our family became close and have remained so. The Lord allowed me the privilege to make some investment in his life, all of which the enemy continued trying to keep me from seeing. This time was not the first time the enemy threw blinders on me. This time, though, the Spirit's still voice was coming through. Jeremy stopped singing, and he picked up his Bible. He read from Psalm 46. I wonder if you might take a moment and read that Psalm with me? (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+46&version=ESV)
As Jeremy read from God's word about the earth giving way and the waters roaring I began to feel the Spirit lifting me to the "holy habitation of the Most High." In spite of my messed up life - yes in spite of me - the Spirit of God had taken this young man from a Godly family and was using him today to reach masses who were struggling to find some stability in uncertain times. Not until later when I stepped outside of the house did I fully grasp what the Lord taught me during that time of worship. He doesn't need me to do His work. He wants to use me, and He will use me, but He doesn't need me. He can do just fine on His own. My frantic efforts to do the right thing by everyone else are nothing compared to the "Lord of hosts," literally the Lord of armies.
The verse came back to me that he read so confidently. The very verse I have shared on multiple occasions. "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 46:10, ESV. The Lord will be exalted whether or not I can make things come together. The Lord will be exalted whether or not everyone thinks I am working hard enough. The Lord will be exalted whether or not the earth shakes and trembles. He is God, and being in His presence brings peace. His desire for me is to be still and know Him. He used a young teenage boy who has become a compassionate young man with a gift for music and a heart for God's people to remind me to be still. I long for the stillness and acceptance I saw in Jeremy Sunday. That longing is only filled by Christ. What a blessing to be still and consider what God does when the one who was led becomes the leader.