Now I lay me down to sleep….
I don’t know about you, but laying down has not been the challenge lately.
Shutting my mind off so that I can actually fall asleep is a different story.
Increasing reports on the spread of the coronavirus, stay in place orders, businesses and schools closing.
So many what ifs ….
Worst case scenarios dart around my mind like children running on a playground.
Everyday the news around the country seems to get worse.
But everyday I have a decision to make.
Which news do I turn my attention to: the local news or the Good News?
In a time when everything feels uncertain, we must grasp onto God’s truth.
Our God is unchanging, even when the world around us is in constant flux.
Let’s go to the book of Psalms.
When we cry out to our Heavenly Father, He will sustain us.
“But, You, O Lord, are a shield for me.
My glory and the One who lifts up my head,
I cried out to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill.
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.” Psalm 3 :3-5
Notice the word Selah at the end of the first verse.
There are several meanings listed for this word.
One means “to praise.”
Another defines Selah as a pause or break, a time to reflect.
How timely this is right now, as we have a break in our normally busy routines to reflect on God’s presence..
Finally, my favorite interpretation of the word Selah means “forever.”
Our circumstances will pass, but our God is forever.
God is good and our safety is found in Him.
“There are many who say,
“Who will show us any good?”
Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.
You have put gladness in my heart.
More than in the season that their grain and wine increased,
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep.
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4 :6-8
Friends, as we start each day, let us direct our concerns to Him.
“Give ear to my words, O Lord.
Consider my meditation.
Give heed to the voice of my cry,
My King and my God.
For to You I will pray.
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord.
In the morning, I will direct it to You.
And I will look up.” Psalm 5 :1-3
Begin each day looking up.
Take time to reflect on a God who is good forever.
May He sustain you throughout the day and before you lie down in the safety of His arms at night.
Peace, love and good health to you all.
Connections are important, even if they are at a distance.
At 1:00 am this morning, I was texting with a few friends, discussing what is happening in our world.
We are all awake.
Sleep eludes us.
Everything feels like it is changing.
And to be honest, it feels a little scary.
Almost overnight, our country seems unrecognizable.
The impact of the coronavirus, or COVID 19, seems to worsen with each passing day.
Our normal routines have been interrupted.
Some have come to a screeching halt.
Schools and colleges have dismissed students for the remainder of the semester to go to online learning.
Restaurants have been reduced to take out only.
Non-essential businesses have shut their doors..
The stock market has plummeted to new lows.
Grocery stores and markets shelves lie empty.
Sports have suspended playtime and major events, like March Madness and the Masters.
Visitation has been restricted to nursing homes and senior living apartments to keep our most vulnerable population safe.
Even places of worship have moved to online services to prevent the spread of disease.
It is a time and place that feels unfamiliar and unsettling.
Social distancing has now become a part of our everyday vocabulary.
According to Merriam Webster, the first known use of this term was in 2003 and is defined as:
“the practice of maintaining a greater than usual physical distance from other people or of avoiding direct contact with people or objects in public places during the outbreak of a contagious disease in order to minimize exposure and reduce the transmission of infection.”
Even though the terminology is different, the act of separation from others due to illness goes back to Biblical times,
Quarantine and isolation are found in Leviticus, for example.
“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “If anyone has a swelling or a rash or discolored skin that might develop into a serious skin disease, that person must be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons. The priest will examine the affected area of the skin. If the hair in the affected area has turned white and the problem appears to be more than skin-deep, it is a serious skin disease, and the priest who examines it must pronounce the person ceremonially unclean.
“But if the affected area of the skin is only a white discoloration and does not appear to be more than skin-deep, and if the hair on the spot has not turned white, the priest will quarantine the person for seven days. On the seventh day the priest will make another examination. If he finds the affected area has not changed and the problem has not spread on the skin, the priest will quarantine the person for seven more days.” Leviticus 13: 1-5 NLT
Can you imagine being unable to touch those you love or meet with them?
Though the terms and diseases are different than today, the feelings are the same.
When we are told we cannot gather, we feel more alone than ever.
Isolation is a strategy the enemy uses to make us question our faith.
But our Heavenly Father wants us to come to Him with our questions, fears and worries.
He does not want us to face this day alone.
Nothing can separate us from His love.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38 NLT
That is what I am holding onto during this time of chaos.
Friends, so many of us are feeling anxious and afraid in this time of uncertainty.
But even though we are asked to adhere to social distancing, we are never asked to stay distant from God.
Distance from God is what makes us feel unsure, not the circumstances going on around us.
And when our anxiety increases, tune out the news and tune into Him.
Start your morning with praise and worship at the feet of the One who is a constant in ever changing times.
That is not to say we should not stay informed.
We need to keep updated on what is happening around us.
But we need daily time in His presence.
And as a community of believers, we also need to stay connected to each other.
How grateful I am we live in a time when technology allows us to watch an online sermon or Facetime with a friend.
As the hands and feet of Jesus, we can reach out in other ways, like shopping for someone who is at risk and cannot leave home, sending cards and letters to nursing homes and mental health facilities that cannot receive visitors, or supporting local businesses by ordering take out.
Brothers and sisters, this is a time that the world can see that we are Christians by our love for each other.
Connections are important, even if they are at a distance.
“This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13 : 35 MSG