You can read blogs, articles, posts and opinions about the Coronavirus and its impact on our country and cities in multitudes of places. I have no desire to try and communicate what others are doing a marvelous job doing. I just got to thinking about the implications for our context here in South Jersey, especially for those who are Jesus-followers.
For the next 4-8 weeks life is going to look very different. Contact with others is going to be limited. We are going to get large doses of alone time or family time. Fears of heath and financial issues are going to sit in the forefront of many people's thinking. Boredom will be an issue for many as theaters, gyms, restaurants and other stores are shutting down. This is going to be the new "normal."
What keeps going through my mind is that this situation is temporary. At some point later this year, we will be back to living closer to how we are used to and we will tell stories about this short period. It strikes me that we get to decide now how we are going to tell those stories.
- Will they be stories of fear or trust?
- Will they be stories of how we endured or how we actually flourished in it?
- Will they be stories of how we missed everything and it was terrible or how we grew in our relationships with God and others?
- Will they be horror stories or will they be hope filled stories?
- Will they be stories of how we isolated or how we boldly lived as God's ambassadors in a difficult time?
We actually get to choose what that story will be like. So as you embrace this new normal and take all the appropriate precautions, ask God to show you how this can be a time of joy, hope and maybe even a time of refreshment and replenishment. I, for one, am looking forward to sitting around the table during Thanksgiving this year and sharing stories of how God worked in and through this time.
As always, it was an enjoyable Father’s Day weekend. I am so thankful for my family and it brings me a great deal of joy to be with my wife, children and grandchildren. I always get my favorite dish (home made shepherd’s pie) and favorite dessert (coffee cake). I enjoy the day, as do many of the dads that I know. The day led me to think of a quote that I had written down several years ago that seems primarily focused on men. It goes like this:
“Most men would rather be envied for their achievements than admired for their character.” (Unknown)
I wonder how often this is true. There is something about achieving that seems to ring the bell for a lot of men. We want to be successful, to make a difference, and to do a little better than the people around us. I often get together with guys and one of the first items of discussion has to do with what we do. We casually talk about how many hours we work, how busy we are, the stuff we do at work or home. Yet I do not see as much passion often when it comes to character. I am left asking myself if I am as focused on my ability to serve my wife and kids when no one is looking, do my best when it will not get noticed, go the extra mile for those who need it, and the list could go on.
Yet it seems that when I die, the people that will stand up at my funeral will focus on my character more than what I achieved. For myself, I want to be building that legacy today. So hopefully, I can live my life with a focus on my character, and let my achievements be what they may. I wonder if this quote would be true of you?
The quote I am focusing on this week came from a blog post I read a while back, although it may have some from someone else. Honestly, when you do the research, it seems that most quotes come from someone else. Regardless, this is an interesting one to me.
"Humility is the ability to live life unoffended." (Jim Rudd)
It seems to me that we live in a culture of offense. People are offended at the littlest things. All you have to do is listen to the people around you. They are offended by what others say or what they post on social media. They are offended by what others believe. They are offended by the actions of others, by how they act, their attitudes, whether they cut them off in line at the grocery store. Christ followers are not exempt. They too often are offended at something that someone does. In the process, it seems that they are bothered all the time.
To be offended is to be irritated, bothered, angered or resentful of another person. The only way to be offended is, at some level, to think that you are better or more correct than another person. In some respect, you believe your way of thinking, speaking, or living is better than the other person. After all, we are never offended by the person who acts exactly like we do or who believes exactly as we believe. At its heart, being offended begins with pride.
That’s why when I saw this quote, it resonated with me. If I am truly humble, then what people will do will not offend me. Even if everything they say or do is contrary to my life and I disagree completely with them, I will not get bothered by it. Paul wrote in Philippians to “consider others better than ourselves.” In the context of the letter he was writing, he was instructing those in the church to put others first, to consider their opinions, their circumstances and their emotions before their own and how to love them no matter what.
I wonder if we did this if we would truly become humble, gracious people and not only find the ability to live unoffended, but with a lot more peace and compassion as well.
Weldon Lemke has been leading Hope Chapel since 2009 with a passion to see people come to know God and grow to maturity in Him.