As I reflected on today’s word, praying, and listening, I didn’t like the words I got.  I didn’t think you would want to read them. I didn’t want to make this writing about me, but about where is God today, how are we living into God’s promises.  So the word honest came.  That I can do Lord.

Before I tell you how my spirit is, let me ask, “How are you? Really.”  I do care, I will listen, I will pray with you and for you.  Keeping that in your pocket, I am going to pretend you asked me the same question. Honestly, I had one of those nights that seemed endless, with waking, tossing, and turning.  I went to bed with some concerns on my heart that worked its way into my sleep. Amazing how our body responds to troubles, pain, sorrow, etc. isn’t it?  

Like you, I am weary of the confusion of news that is on every tongue.  It no longer brings any comfort to hear “the latest news on the virus and how to live”.  If we could just face into the truth – we really don’t know much.  Changes in protocol and projections for the future keep us all on tenterhooks.  That means we are all left hanging – not a comfortable position to wait. The various suggestions for safe healthy practices leave us unsure, questioning who really knows and what IS the truth, leaving us more and more distrusting of any information.  That in its self is sad that we struggle to believe what we are hearing.  It can also lead to dangerous decisions, should we discount what is the best science and the most recent data being provided.

The loss of congregational worship and gatherings is a constant grief.  I am concerned for the family of Cokes, missing our opportunities to work, serve, love, and be the witness for Christ, where so many of us find life-giving energy.  I, like you, am grieving losses of friends and suffering with you when I learn of your losses.  The nature of pastors is to accompany others in this time.  The virus has changed all that, leaving me feeling I have not done what I can/should for my “flock”.  

That is more than enough to tell.  We all have these real experiences that affect us.  It might show up physically, emotionally, or spiritually.  The one thing that I do know is that with God, I will find purchase in my soul.  There is where all the God work begins.  When our soul is in distress, we have the Lord to call on.  All the promises from Genesis to Revelation reveal that God does not leave us, is with us in our wilderness travels, in our darkest moments, in our questions and fears, without fail.  Sometimes telling the Lord where you are helps.  It does for me, for as I name, God speaks into the expression, reminding me of times Jesus faced the same, or calling up stories of God’s promise to Noah.  Endless Words of God will address the minutia of our life, if only we will pause to listen.

In the midst of honestly not good times, bad days, moments of confusion, or crisis there is always hope.  Trust in the Lord to hold you.  Listen to the Lord for the Word that will bring calm and peace.  Live into the faith that we proclaim, allowing God to be the center of our soul.  God with us is the game-changer.  

Does this change us?  I pray so.  It changes me. Maybe not in an instant, but there it is: the peace that passes understanding.  The assurance that all is well, for God is with us. The beautiful words, “All Will Be Well” resonate through the hardships and trials to give God perspective to life.  

Being a follower of Jesus Christ is a practice, a journey.  We are always growing either towards or away from God.  These times of pandemic and of life in general, without the added pressure of world crisis, are part of learning to live more like Christ.  Less of me, more of Christ.

Honestly, what more can I say?  I love you, pray for you and look towards the Lord for direction, hope, and joy.  In that, I can be confident.  All else is as nothing if I can not do this today.  May it be so with you.

Pastor Lisa

P.S. If you check your pocket and need to talk, I am here.  Reach out and let me know by email (ldempsey@cokeschapel.org) and I will give you a call.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Psalm 73: 25-6

“Be Still My Soul” by David Archeluta.  A former American Idol contestant, singing with such beauty and heart.  Be blessed as you listen.
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