Friday, March 20 2020
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:38-39). There is no special exemption for global pandemic, financial ruin, emotional anxiety, or personal decisions. It is good that we remind ourselves of this – the Father truly loves us, the Spirit is moving among us, and Jesus holds forever those He loves and how He loves us!
In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul tells young Timothy that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and sound mind.” He is teaching us that anxiety and anything that produces anxiety is not of the Spirit. We have so many other voices – news media, neighbors, our own – that stir up anxiety. Now more than ever, we need to practice hearing the voice of Jesus. That voice and that Spirit empowers us to love thoughtfully and well. The word for sound mind can also be translated “discipline” – which connects a healthy mind with discipline.
Perhaps now is a time to develop, increase, or adapt some spiritual disciplines or “practices” to better manage our own anxiety. Let me encourage you with three things…
1) Use the Lord’s Prayer as a guide for meditative prayer – spending time with each phrase and putting them into your own words; praying for particular people, events and circumstances as they come to your mind; and asking the Lord to help you pray each petition. See below for an example from my own life.
2) Read and study Scripture. If you don’t know where to start (or if you are looking for some focus), take this week’s passage for our teaching in worship – Mark 14:22-51. Take time with the passage, read what comes before and after, take notes, journal about it.
3) Establish some routines and rhythms to your days. Practices of engagement – exercise, reaching out to others, etc. Practices of disengagement – set limits on time spent on social media, reading the latest headlines, watching television, etc. The point of these things is not another list of rules but to help our spirits, hearts, souls, minds, bodies and relationships become more healthy.
* Please join us via livestream for our worship on Sunday at 9:30am (here or at wpcspartanburg.org/live) or watch it at your convenience. As awkward as it may feel, participate with your family and, perhaps, a few friends or neighbors gathered with you. We trust it will be a time of fellowship, worship, prayer, and learning some ancient wisdom for anxious times.
* Our His Hands ministry team is actively seeking information regarding people who may need help during this time – running errands, picking up medications, groceries, or just checking up on them. They also need volunteers. If you or someone you know may be in need of help, please contact Beth Wolfe at 864-216-2761 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, we are encouraging our covenant partners who are able to look after each other and their neighbors.
Lord's Prayer personally adapted
Our Father, who is always and everywhere present, You are utterly unique in your goodness and love.
May Your kingdom come and Your will be done, May we love what you love and how You love because You love us so much.
Give us today what we need and help us to do the things we need to do today. Help us trust You in the moment.
Forgive us our debts – convict me of where I have failed to love You and others – as we forgive our debtors – the ways they have failed to love You and love me.
Don’t let us be led into temptation but rescue us from evil – show me where real evil lurks in seeming good and where You bring real good out of seeming evil.