One of the commitments I made this year was to try to learn a few Bible verses each month. My January verses I say almost every day to remember who God is, to thank and praise Him, to entrust the cares of my life to the Sovereign One, strong and mighty, who rules over all.
With that commitment to memorize Scripture, I’ve tried to record at the end of each month how things went, as a means of both accountability and of encouragement to keep going. And in so doing, I’ve reviewed the preceding month as a whole, as well.
Yet, how do you begin to review months like March and April 2020, where all of life was changed or impacted in some way by the coronavirus that continues to disrupt the world?
Pre-virus, the biggest thoughts on my mind for March were my college-aged kids’ upcoming spring breaks, one the first week of March, and the other the last week of March when we would go to Florida. How shallow my vision seems now, reading my journal from February 29 as I anticipated March. It reminds me of James 4:14-15, “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”
On March 7, my mom and I attended an event with Beth Moore at a local church as part of the book launch for her new book Chasing Vines. (I recommend this book on living a life of fruitfulness.) Little did we realize this would be the last weekend we would meet comfortably in groups in the 1000s, the last public hugs we would give people, and how swiftly life would change.
Sunday, March 8, my son flew back to his college after his spring break. We couldn’t know three days later, colleges would start to move classes online and we would spend the next week figuring out how to get him back home, amidst fears that even domestic travel could be limited. Each day seemed like a year with the rapid developments. By Saturday, March 14, I was driving the 8-hour trek to pick up my daughter from her college, with sad goodbyes to her roommates, returning home March 15.
In the midst of all this, our church where I work transitioned to online services for March 15, going forward indefinitely. In three days time, a whole new model for church was created which would continue to be developed over the coming weeks. And we all began to work from home. Our state issued a stay-at-home order that started March 21, and it’s ongoing at this point until the end of May.
In all of life, there was a lot of change in a short amount of time. Many big plans for the coming months were canceled, and I know we will look back at how God used this time to actually re-direct our lives in ways we didn’t anticipate. Each one of you reading has your own stories about the chaos or change that was brought about in your personal life because of this virus.
In the midst of the challenges, as former empty nesters, we’ve enjoyed having our son and daughter home and being together. Because I work, I haven’t had excess time for many extra things. In fact, I really haven’t had time to write or blog as evidenced by two months of quiet. But I have started cooking again—a lot! I have enjoyed bringing out old recipes and having home-cooked meals, making my lists and stocking up at the grocery every couple of weeks. This would be my “growth” area from the pandemic, I suppose.
I’ve stuck with my Scripture memorization. For March, it was 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (chosen pre-pandemic):
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.
I like the image of sowing and reaping, the challenge to do so bountifully. I wrote in my journal when I recorded these verses: “A great lesson in economics—if this is God’s Word, it’s true and can be taken to the bank. God can be trusted.” What I also love about this passage is: “God is able to make ALL grace abound to you, so that ALWAYS having ALL sufficiency in EVERYTHING, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” Those words indicate no lack and encompass everything. His grace is not limited!
For April, I turned to James 4:13-17 that I mentioned above:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
I’m thankful I’ve been able to keep up this discipline over the first four months of the year and to have four short passages added to my memory, mind, and heart. I have to admit I’m sometimes a good starter, but not always a good finisher. The simple act of recording it here helps me press on.
As I write, I know many are suffering. Some are sick. Many are alone. Some are experiencing the loss of a job or other financial losses. In this time of isolation, we miss nearness and relationships. I have friends working on the front-lines, one in the local ICU. I pray for you all, that you may be well, that we might encourage others somehow, that God will lead us and give us wisdom in these days, and bring us safely through. I pray that through this, many will turn their hearts to God, to recognize that He is our only hope in life and in death. What a comfort and joy the gospel truth brings!
As I close, I’ll include this video of the Hallelujah Chorus that our church made for Easter. It’s passed half a million views on YouTube and generated a lot of joy to those who have watched it! “And He shall reign forever and ever. Hallelujah!”