By Rev. Jerry Chiles
You might be asking yourself, “Why am I here at this junction of history? Why am I having to go through this crisis? I am exhausted. God why are you doing this to us?”
God is not the one who is doing this to us. Is God present in this crisis? Yes! Can God use this crisis to show us a better way? Yes! There are times in life when ordinary people have the opportunity to do extraordinary things. It is no accident that we are present. This crisis will help us define our ministries. Will we step up and make a positive contribution or will we do the minimum and try to wait it out?
What does God expect of us? I think he expects us to self-care, to be present with people, and prepare our congregations to move forward. Does he say it will be easy? No! But he promises to be present with us.
While we have given up some things, we have also discovered new things. We had to embrace social media as never before. We had to discover how we can be present without being in physical contact.
One of the hardest decisions we face is what will we leave behind and what we embrace as we move forward. It is natural for us to long for a time and place of the familiar and safety. Moses wanted to stay in the dessert and gave God excuse after excuse as to why he could not do it. After he said yes, he took lots of grief from his people who often asked to return to Egypt? Joshua was afraid but God told him, “Do not be afraid of them”. Barnabas brought Saul under his wing stepping into the unknown and took criticism from his fellow Christians.
So how do we discern what God is calling us to be and do in and after this crisis? Each of us must decide God’s calling. However, God does not call us to go back. He calls us to join him. In Isaiah 49:18-19 he challenges us to ‘see a new thing’. In the New Testament Jesus talked about new wine in new wineskins, new garments, new commandments, new treasures, and a new creation. In Revelation they sang a new song.
It is not enough for us to embrace the new. We must encourage our congregations to embrace the new as well. Some of the congregation will move quickly to follow this new way, while others will be slow to move and some not at all. It must be said up front that failure may be part of the new way, but remember failure is not the enemy. Failing to act is the enemy.
Be encouraged! We will get through this crisis. Be encouraged! God wants the best for us and His church. Be encouraged! You are not alone. All of us are afraid about what to do. Be encouraged! There are members of your congregation who are seeking God for the new way, too. In 1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV we find: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. “
These thoughts above are from Rev. Jerry Chiles, one of our partners in ministry for the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina Metroplex. He has served in various churches across the Southeast as an associate minister.