Yesterday, I escaped from the house to pick-up ice cream—a bright treat for a dark day — and cried the whole way to Kelly’s Ice Cream shop. We’d just received word that someone we love had lost his job, the first in what I anticipated to be a string of virus-related layoffs. Schools were officially closing their doors, and Grace Church had made the loving but difficult decision to suspend all services.
I walked into Kelly’s wearing sweatpants that are basically pajamas. My shirt said “Good is Ahead” and my face said “Yeah, right.”
Then I saw them.
“Hey Jeanne!” It was a family from our campus, huddled at a table eating ice cream.
Instantly, my spirits lifted.
On a normal day I might have thought about my appearance. I might have simply waved and made small talk. But on this particular day — with disaster at our doorstep — I felt such deep comfort and kinship. I felt the unparalleled joy of being part of the body of Christ.
“Hey!” I jumped out of line, walked over, and started unloading. “How are you guys? I’m just feeling so sad…”
I was so encouraged by the time I headed back to my car. Truly, there is nothing like the body of Christ. We are family. Whether we’ve known each other for years, or just met, we are family in Him. And right now is a really great time to have family.
Dear Grace family, for all the sorrow ahead, I believe we are going to see some truly deep and eternal things.
I believe we will see a renewed appreciation for the church gathered. In the coming weeks we will have a fractional taste of the isolation many of our brothers and sisters in Christ face regularly in closed countries. We will ache to worship together, get really excited when we bump into each other at ice cream shops, and perhaps recognize all the freedoms we take for granted. May we be filled with gratitude.
I believe we will see an unfettered interest in the gospel. People will be ready to have the conversations we have been waiting to have. They will welcome prayer, encouraging resources, and hope in any and all forms (including toilet paper). They will think more about the purpose of life, the fragility of our existence, the false security of stuff, and their eternal destination than they have in years.
I believe we will see radical discipleship. There will always be those who reject Jesus, but — at times like this— there will be those who shake off their apathy. People who have stood still for years will take a next step toward Christ because they feel threatened materially or physically. The testing of their faith will produce steadfastness, and we will see widespread sanctification in the lives of many believers, ourselves included (James 1:2-4).
I believe we will see the goodness of God in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). We will see Jesus come through again and again for His church. We will hear testimonies of supernatural provision, of freedom from fear, of unexpected blessing, of faithful stewardship.
Once upon a time, when God wanted Abraham to know how seriously He takes His promises, He swore by Himself because there was no one greater by whom to swear. “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of His purpose, He guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:17-18).
How secure is our future? As secure as God’s promise and as steadfast as God’s character. God could no sooner fail us than He could lie to us. May we who flee to Him for refuge hold fast to the hope set before us.
I love you, Grace Church! I look forward to gathering with you online until I see you again at church…or at Kelly’s, whichever comes first!