I’ve taken the process of stepping out back into community terribly slowly since my stay at home order in March started with a death-defying 2-week stay in the ICU.
I tend to feel pretty invincible (even when everyone around me is telling me I’m not), but those two weeks in ICU fighting for my life sent me into a place of acceptance of my current reality:
I have to be so careful.
Don’t hear me wrong: By careful, I do not mean afraid. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7). In the midst of the practice of faith, we, however are called to live a life seeking the Spirit, responding to wise, godly counsel, being poured out for the sake of others.
I also don’t mean that I can go out and do what I want to do. I hear a great deal about “rights”￼ lately, in the context of conversations about, well, everything, and I want to make something clear: As a Christian, when I model the life of my Lord, I lay down my rights. Jesus said to those bent on killing Him: “You do not take my life, but I willingly lay it down.” (John 10:18).
Part of our process from being made righteous to be made like Jesus involves a total overhaul and intentional surrender of our “rights.” And so any battle that is rooted in personal pride or personal assumed rights is not a place for a Christ follower to be. We are in the business of laying down our lives, pouring ourselves out as Mary did with her jar of oil at the feet of Jesus and as Jesus did with his own blood on the cross. We seek the will of our Lord, honoring the commandments to love God and love others.
Even Paul, who ultimately became a martyr for Jesus, wrestled between the need to see Jesus face-to-face (his earthly suffering was unfathomable), and the desire to remain earth-side for the sake of his spiritual children and for the church.
If my life is not my own, then I also surrender my rights to reckless living. I know two little reasons why it is important that I remain earth-side, and they are seven and five years old. I know many, many other living and breathing reasons why I must honor, care for, and protect the currently fragile body in which I dwell.
My life is not my own. I was bought with a price, and therefore I am called to honor God with my body. (1 Corinthians 6:20).
And so, I have not set foot in a store, a restaurant, a church, a coffee shop, or any other public area before this past week (because this is the life that God called me to personally in the presence of COVID).
I have been entirely at peace with these past months of quarantine. Now, He’s calling me out, taking precautions , to my first in-person worship service since before the first leaves began to sprout in their tiny blossoms on the trees, before the world was turned upside-down and made unrecognizable.
My doctor said yesterday that if I fully social distance, wear a mask, and be vigilant, she thinks attending church will be good for me. I’m not scared.
I’m thrilled. I hope that I feel well enough. Jordan was appointed to a new church in July, and the kids and I have yet to attend a service.
It often seems that we are shoved to one side or the other: but I’m choosing to walk in the middle: Not reacting out of fear or throwing caution to the wind, but prayerfully and carefully taking one small step into the unknown world, overturned by COVID, ravaged by birth pangs, that is currently being ripped apart by hate that grows more and more pervasive by the day, desperately in need of stabilizing community and care.
God has taken this nearly half of a year to ease me out of my death grip on the illusion of control, and I know now that control is not peace; in fact, it’s merely an illusion that ultimately becomes a prison. He’s taken this season to draw my heart deeper into His, and I have fallen head-over-heels in love with my wounded Healer, who meets me in the middle of it, who reigns above it all, and who calls us to live upside-down, poured out, seeking to go lower for the sake of His kingdom.
And until you taste the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, none of this will make sense. But the way down is up. The way to life is death. The way to peace is not control, but total surrender. And in this place, under the shadow of His wing, we could never be safer.