Is there a gap between your expectations and your reality?

[NOTE:  I am writing this post to my college student friends tonight]

Sometimes there is a gap between your expectations and reality.  When that happens, what do you place in that space?  Often it depends on the quality of a relationship.  What do I mean?

Let’s say that a student named Allie was taking Chemistry with Professor Smith.  Allie always showed up on time to class, always took notes, always turned her assignments in on time, and was a real encouragement to all in her lab group.   Later in the semester, Allie took a test and scored 58%.  Yikes!  Professor Smith was surprised by the results, and figured that Allie must have had something go wrong in her life to end up with such a poor performance on the test.  Professor Smith approached Allie after class the next session to make sure she was doing alright and to compassionately enquire “what went wrong.” In the back of his mind, Professor Smith was trying to decide how to give Allie a second chance at taking that test. 

Now, let’s say that Professor Smith had another student in his Chemistry class named Billy.  Billy was often absent from lectures, but when he was there, he was late and looked disinterested.  In lab, he frustrated his partners because he never seemed to be prepared or take the assignments seriously.  All semester long Billy barely kept a low “C” average on all assignments.  Later in the semester, Billy took a test and (amazingly) scored a 98%!   Professor Smith is surprised by the results, and figured that Billy had done something illegal to make this score possible.  “He must have cheated in some way,” was the Professor’s thought.  Before class the next session, Dr. Smith checked video footage of his classroom to determine how Billy pulled off this academic misconduct.

Do you see what happened there?  In both instances, the students (Allie and Billy) performed DIFFERENTLY on the test than was EXPECTED.  But the response that Professor Smith had for each varied greatly, depending on the relationship he had with the students.  For Allie (who he had a good relationship with), he gave her the benefit of the doubt, and looked for a positive explanation for why the difference in performance.  For Billy (who he had a bad relationship with), he expected the worst, and assumed he must have broken the rules.

Now, I am not implying that this situation above actually HAPPENED . . . after all, I think most Professors have a standard of ethics that would not allow such disparity of actions . . . but I am saying that the PRINCIPLE this story conveys is both relatable and timely.

The Principle?:  What we place in the gap between our expectations and reality depends on the quality of the relationship.

Now, why do I belabor this point today.  Well, all of our lives have just been scrambled.  The fun spring events you thought you would be participating in right now have been cancelled.  The graduation you thought you would be celebrating has been postponed.  The summer internship you thought was headed your way has evaporated. The camp you were going to volunteer at this summer is no more.  The semester you hope to return to in the fall is shrouded in a cloud of uncertainty.  Let’s face it . . . right now . . . for all of us . . . there is a big gap between our expectations and our reality.  So, what are you filling it with?

I don’t mean what are you filling the TIME with . . . i.e. what XBox game you are playing, or which show are you streaming on Netflix . . . I mean spiritually.  How are you and God dealing with this moment together?  My guess is, it depends on the nature of your relationship with Him.

If your relationship with God entered March 2020 going well . . . my guess is you are leaning on His Sovereignty right now, looking for how He will “work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).”

If your relationship with God entered March 2020 somewhat rocky, or non-existent . . . if you are thinking about God at all at this time —  you are wondering “where He is” or “if He cares”?

What we fill the gap between our expectations and our reality says a lot about our relationship with God.  

BUT . . . I want to add three levels of nuance to this conversation.

#1:  Though the two caricatures of responses listed above may be where we end up . . . it has been my experience (both personally and biblically) that most people will spend at least some time asking hard questions when life falls apart.  The disciples in the boat on the Sea of Galilee wake Jesus in the storm and ask Him if He cares (Mark 4:35-41).  The Psalmist wonders aloud in Psalm 73 why the Lord is allowing evil to win.  Even Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane asked for His preference of having the “cup” pass (Matthew 26:36-46).  When we feel the pain of unmet expectations, we ALL struggle.  The difference is not what we initially FEEL . . . or even initially SAY . . . but in where we ultimately DWELL.  The disciples turned to Jesus and saw Him work.  David meditated on heaven, and found His answer.  Jesus committed to “Thy will be done” and accomplished the greatest thing in the history of creation.  It is OK for us to turn to God at this time and ask Him our hard questions . . . express to Him our real emotion . . . just don’t stay there.  Move beyond that emotion and choose to fill the gap between our expectation and reality with something better than just our anger.

#2:  Instead of just imagining what God is like, get to know who God really is.  I promise that the God who really exists is WAY BETTER than the God our minds can imagine.  In this time of disappointment, open God’s Word and read about the God who never disappoints in His identity and character.  He is wiser than we know, more righteous than we expected, and more loving than we deserve.  Read a Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) to see what God looks like “in the flesh.”  Read a Psalm a day and make a list of the different characteristics of God that you see there.  Take advantage of this moment to get to know God better.  As Paul says in Philippians 4:8-9, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence , if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things . . . practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”   Look to Him and you will find a God who loves you and offers you peace in a time of problems.  You can actually strengthen your relationship with God RIGHT NOW, and that will begin to change what you are placing in the gap of your unmet expectations.

#3:  Don’t try to do this alone.  None of us have enough perspective on our own to see things correctly.  We need others to help us.  When we lack courage . . . we need friends to en-courage us.  When we lack wisdom . . . we need the wise to instruct us.  When we lack hope . . . we need those with perspective to remind us there is more that we cannot see.  God’s plan for delivering these things to us is often through the ministry of others.  We need to move toward others who can help us through the hard times.  AND, we need to move toward others so that we can encourage, instruct, and admonish them as needed.  We may be told to be “physically distant” but stay “socially connected” to Christ followers who can encourage you along the way.  Start an accountability relationship with a friend, join a “Zoom group” Bible Study, or pray with your roommates during this time.  Don’t try to go it alone.

One last thing . . . for all of us there is another gap that needs filling.  It is the gap between our brokenness and God’s perfection.  Jesus chose to fill that gap with His love, dying on the cross for you and me so that we might be connected to God forever . . . Praise Him for His grace!!  Get to know that God of grace, and see the gap between our expectations and reality filled with His love and not just our loss.  If you want to talk more about this, I’d love to dialogue about it with you.

What are you afraid of?

Last night I was texting with my sister.  Her daughter (my niece) is a senior in High School, and class closures have abbreviated the end of her senior year.  I conveyed my sympathy that there would be no “victory lap” for the outgoing class . . . no prom . . . no graduation.  While these things are not life and death or physical suffering, losing them is still something significant to grieve.  Many of you are also mourning these losses as well.

As a part of this conversation, my sister shared with me a perspective that I not yet noticed:  her daughter’s senior class was born in the year of 9/11 and are now graduating during a pandemic.  What interesting bookends to the childhoods of a generation of American young people.  

What does this mean?  Well, it means they grew up in an era that was afraid.  Afraid of what?  Afraid of everything.  Afraid of terrorists and viruses . . . but in between MANY OTHER BURDENS.  In an era of gigabits of information freely shared on the internet, we can now access knowledge about everything . . . and much of it is not encouraging.  

  • How many sex offenders live in your neighborhood?  – Experian will tell you.
  • How many cars are broken into on your street at night?  – check the “Next Door” app.
  • How trustworthy are our politicians?  Red, blue, and purple bloggers are always writing to point out the problems.
  • How bad for you is a loaf of bread or fried eggs?  Web MD probably has an article for you.

 And on and on it goes.  We are living in an era that KNOWS about almost everything, and is reminded to be afraid of almost everything.  What is the result?  Well, there are at least a couple of negative types of responses:

  • Some dwell on this fear too much, leading to crippling anxiety . . . a malady that encumbers record numbers today.
  • Others have become numb to it.  Rather than having a healthy fear of SOME things, they have become numb to it all.

Both of these approaches are insufficient for the world we live in.  Somewhere between crippling anxiety and careless adventure is the sweet spot we long for.  So how do we navigate this scary world?  After all, there is plenty out there to be scared of!

I recently heard Pastor Andy Stanley share a sermon on Mark 4:35-41.  In these verses, Jesus and His disciples are on the Sea of Galilee when a mighty storm rolls in.  While the disciples strain against the wind and the waves, Jesus is asleep in the boat.  The disciples are (rightly) afraid of the wind and the waves – a force they cannot control and had probably claimed the lives of people they knew.  The disciples wake Jesus up and exclaim, “Don’t you care that we are perishing?!?!”  Jesus stands up, speaks to the waves and the wind, and calms the storm.  With the removal of this “fearful situation” we might expect the disciples’ spirits to be as calm as the water.  But they are not.  Instead, Stanley observed that the disciples were “filled with GREAT FEAR” or “TERRIFIED” when the storm ceased.  Why?  Because they saw the awesome power and authority of the One in their boat.  Though they rightly were afraid of the storm . . . the One who controlled the storm was even more to be feared or respected.  Why bow before the storm, when we know the One who controls the storm.

What this tells me is that our ability to conquer the fears of our day (COVID-19, economic collapse, etc.) is not tied to us controlling the virus or the stock market, but in knowing the One who sits Sovereign over it all.  

What is sad, though, is that many today do not know the power of the One whose boat we are in.  Though we live in a day where knowledge is everywhere, it is amazing how we have edited knowledge of God for a generation.  (BTW:  I think Wildwood Children, Student, and College Ministries do an amazing job of teaching the full counsel of God to our kids, but sadly our culture and even some churches want to gloss over the true character of God).  

  • We don’t like what God calls sin, so we minimize the reality of God’s holiness.  
  • We are afraid of the excesses of the hyper-charismatics, so conservatives downplay the supernatural power of God.  
  • We believe in individualism above all, so we make our relationship with God into a solo activity, not a team sport.  
  • We only want to think of God’s love, so we edit out His justice.  
  • We so focus on the science that describes a phenomena that we forget that there was a God who made it all.  

When this happens, we run the risk of reducing God to a “Nice Old Man,” and that version of God seems like little help in the midst of a storm.  BUT, God is not just a Nice Old Man.  He is the holy, Almighty, Just, Creator of all things, who sits Sovereign over the Universe . . . and He is in our boat!  Or better . . . we are in HIS boat.  We escape the paralyzing nature of our fears, when we remember the One who we really should fear the most, is on our side!  “If God is for us,” Paul says, “Who can be against us?”  

So, what do we do with this?

  • Well, remember who God really is.  This is why it is so important to read the Scriptures.  Too often we allow our imaginations to create God for us . . . instead of allowing the Scripture to reveal Him to us.  The God who really is, not the God we imagine, is the God who can relieve us from our fears.  Get to know Him.  See His power and His righteousness and His justice . . . but also see His love.  He wants life, not death, for you . . . and is pursuing you to that end.
  • Get in the boat with Jesus.  Trust in Him for the forgiveness of your sins.  If we spend our lives outside the boat in the middle of the storm, we will drown.  Hop in with Jesus by faith.  Trust in Him for the forgiveness of your sins and your hope for all eternity.
  • Identify your fears in other things, but then compare them to the God who loves you.  A virus will not hijack God’s plans for your life.  Your days are numbered by the One who wore the crown of thorns, not the crowned virus.  I may very well die of COVID-19 (though statistically that is highly unlikely, it is possible).  But if I do, it will not be because COVID-19 was in control . . . it will be because a Sovereign, loving, wise, and holy God allowed it.  

So, in this age bookended by fear, let’s remember to fear, revere, and trust the One who sits above it all.  Let’s hop in His boat together to the glory of God.

Are you feeling anxious? Sing!

[Note:  the following is taken from a devotional I wrote to Wildwood College Students in the wake of COVID-19.  I include it here as its principles apply to us all]

Are you anxious right now?  Feeling unsettled or uptight?  Don’t know for sure how to label it, but right now you are just “off”?  

Yeah . . . me too.

Why?  Well, our lives have just taken a disorienting turn.  In two weeks an invisible virus has gone from a punchline to a monster devouring lives, plans, and economies.  Gone is graduation, spring break trips, and March Madness.  Gone are jobs and “in person” classes and time in the dorms or sorority house.  

Let’s be honest . . . it stinks.  You may be frustrated, afraid, or mad.  You may be anxious, nervous, or bored.  Whatever it is you call it . . . it does not feel like “it is well” with us.

So what do we do?  When the virus is “after us,” the world against us, and our plans crashing down around us, where do we turn?

Well, I turn to the Psalms.  And in the Psalms I see real and honest emotion.  I see people (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) tell God that things stink.  I see people cry out about the enemies they see thriving around them.  I see people afraid and anxious and raw and real.  In the midst of it all, they are turning to God.  

And guess what?  God can take it.  God listens and loves . . . and encourages through a proper perspective and His presence.  We can go to God and be honest with Him about how we are really doing.

Many Psalms begin with honest confession, but end with praise and adoration.  It is as if the Psalmist approaches God with the particulars of their ever-changing case, but are comforted by the presence of their never-changing God.

In Psalm 30, the Psalmist  (in this case David – whose life had plenty of hardship), makes a remarkable statement.  He says – “Sing praises to the LORD, O you  His saints, and give thanks to His holy name.  For His anger is but for a moment, and His favor is for a lifetime.  Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:4-5)”  David was able to worship God even in the darkness of struggle, because He knew that joy would come in the morning.  David praised God in hard times because he knew the sun would rise soon — that the goodness of God is always greater than our struggle . . . so we can praise Him no matter what struggles we are going through.

In this unsettling season of COVID-19, I encourage you to praise God even when you are anxious, afraid, or uneven.  So how do we do that?  Well, I have found it is helpful to do so with music.  I think David found that to be true as well . . . that is why he encourages us to “SING” praises.  In songs we take words that someone else has written, infuse them with the emotion that only music can bring, and as we proclaim them . . . something magical happens.  Our souls are lifted up.  I think the sweetest times of worship are actually when times are hard.  We are just a little more present, real, raw . . . and  in that state, the borrowed words of a song writer just mean a bit more.  We are reminded that even in the darkness, joy comes in the morning.

So, I encourage you to sing.  That’s right, sing.  Fill your apartment (or your parent’s basement, or wherever you are) with the songs of the Lord.  Be reminded of who He is and be encouraged by His presence and the perspective that a joyous morning is soon coming when the Son rises again.

Three specifics I might encourage you with to listen to today . . . go to YouTube and search for North Point Music.  This worship team out of Atlanta, Georgia is producing “house worship” sessions every couple of days.  They are phenomenal.  Listen and sing along.  Or make a Spotify or Apple Music playlist of songs that are encouraging you right now and share that list here so we can worship along together in this season.  Or third, join us for our livestream on Sundays at and SING (not just watch) with us from wherever you are.

We love you all, and can’t wait to sing with you again very soon.

In Christ,  Pastor Mark

Psalm 46 Devotional Video

Tonight, I shared a devotional on Wildwood’s livestream.  Below you will see the video (via YouTube online) of this devotional that encourages us with how we can respond when we are “under siege” . . . like in this COVID-19 crisis (using Psalm 46 as our guide).

March 18 Wildwood Update

March 18, 2020

Dear Wildwood,

Hello Church!!  Are you dizzy yet?  I feel like my life is a merry-go-round where every few moments another piece of news comes my way to spin my reality further into chaos.  A troubled economy, closed schools, increasingly restrictive directives from governing officials, and the ever-present specter of contracting illness . . . round and around and around we go . . . Given this reality, wouldn’t it be great to find a place to shelter in the midst of the storm?  

Good news.  I know of such a place!  “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!’ (Psalm 91:1-2)”  Friends, this refuge and fortress never closes, is never overwhelmed, and always welcomes you to take shelter inside. While our public meetings are no longer “in person” for a season, we can shelter TOGETHER spiritually under the protection and provision of the Lord our God.  Let’s place our hope in Him together!

Now with that reminder, let me get to some specifics regarding Wildwood Community Church’s program plan in this current climate.  Effective immediately and until further notice, Wildwood will not host any “in person” gatherings (large or small, meeting in the church or in homes, for all of our ministry areas).  This also applies to all programming that meets in our facility (whether hosted by Wildwood or a partner organization).  As soon as we believe it is safe to return to normal, “in person” programming we will let you know.  Until then, we strongly encourage – even admonish – you to continue to meet together with us in our online platforms.

Wildwood livestreams our online worship service each Sunday at 11AM.  Make plans to join us each Sunday in this format at .

Additionally, Wildwood’s staff and ministry leaders are meeting right now to consider how best to equip and encourage you during this season.  We love you and are praying for you!  Instead of just thinking of this moment like a “snow day,” where we check out of life for a weekend, think of it as a “winter” . . . a new season to reset the rhythm of your life on what matters most.  As always, Wildwood is for following Jesus together to the glory of God.  Let’s each renew our commitment to do that at this time!  What if your goal for this period of “social distancing” was not just to survive, but to thrive spiritually?  What if our goal is to come to the end of this “quarantine” with a greater faith in God and love for others?  We think this is possible!  After all, Jesus is always growing His church and the gates of coronavirus will not prevail against it!

To help encourage us during this time, our children’s ministry, student ministry, and adult ministry teams are putting together plans to guide us in spiritual growth this season.  We will reveal a number of these plans (and how to access them) during the livestream of our worship service this Sunday.  Hop on board with us!  These are extraordinary times . . . but we know an EXTRAORDINARY GOD who works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Thanks friends!  “See you” Sunday!  Oh . . . and for those who are interested and available, I will be live-streaming a devotional Wednesday March 18 at 6PM central time at focused on Psalm 46, and the hope we have in God in troubled times.  We know the Truth which sets us free from fear in the midst of an otherwise “scary” time.  Join us in praying for those around us as we all look for opportunities to share the reason for our hope – now and always.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Wildwood March 15 Services . . . Update

March 13, 2020

Dear Wildwood,

This has truly been an unusual week, hasn’t it?  Each day, the story of COVID-19 has increased in intensity and scope.  Professional and college sports leagues are cancelling or postponing competition, the University of Oklahoma has moved to online instruction, conferences and work events have dropped off the calendar, and our news feed is being updated by the hour with more and more reports of the spread of this virus.

As a church leadership team (Staff and Elders) we have continued to monitor the situation and prayerfully consider how we should respond.  Just last night, we gathered to pray for our congregation, city, and nation.  At this time, we reflected and prayed over Psalm 46.  This amazing Psalm begins with this powerful thought, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way.”  I can confidently tell you that our church leadership is not living in fear over the COVID-19 situation, and we pray that you are taking your refuge in our God with us today!

Even as we take our refuge in the Lord, though, organizations all over the world are having to make difficult decisions regarding holding public gatherings.  On a typical weekend 1,500 people congregate at Wildwood.  As many states and cities around the U.S. have begun to issue restrictions on gatherings of over 250 people to slow the spread of COVID-19, we want to make a prudent decision about Wildwood’s practice.  After much prayer, consultation with medical professionals, and discussion, we have decided to cancel all “in person” worship services, classes, and events on Sunday, March 15.  We will evaluate the situation further after this weekend concerning future Sundays, and will let you know as soon as other decisions are made.  NOTE: Next week is spring break and normal programming was already not scheduled for Monday-Friday of next week.

When state and local officials in other locations have issued their bans on large public gatherings, they have often noted that all “non-essential” activities should cease.  I want to remind all of us that we do not view church involvement as “non-essential.”  After all, Hebrews 10:25 reminds us that we are “not neglecting to meet together . . . but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”  There is a real power in gathering together and encouraging one another in the Lord – especially at times like this.  So, even though we are not meeting at a specific address this weekend (1501 24th Ave. NE), we will still be worshipping together as a church family at 11AM via our YouTube Livestream.  We strongly encourage you to gather your family together and pull up our broadcast of the worship service (the video will be live at 11AM, but available anytime after that as well).  Worship together as a family as our “virtual” service will include singing.  Open God’s Word together, as Pastor Bruce preaches from Matthew 26:30-35, 69-75.  Share comments together as the stream goes along via the comments section.  Though we are not meeting in one room, we will still be of “one mind” and “one heart” as we are members of the “one BODY of Christ.”  You can access that livestream here.

One last thought.  I know some of you are relieved we are not meeting as this decision lines up with your convictions about how society should respond to this situation.  Others of you will roll your eyes at this, thinking it is an over-reaction to the media hype.  We understand both sides of these concerns.  However, we feel a charge from the Lord to shepherd this flock in its well-being.  While many of you are young and carry no underlying health condition, many of us do deal with this . . . or regularly interact with others who are in more “at risk” populations.  Think of this act as one more way of “loving our neighbors” as Jesus instructs us . . . curbing our “preference” for another’s well-being.  Know that it is our sincere desire that our church (throughout this season) grows in our faith in God and love for others (2 Thessalonians 1:3).  Our desire in this response is to take refuge in the Lord as our strength (Psalm 46:1), while also demonstrating a loving response to our city by doing our part to reduce community spread of this disease.

“See you” Sunday at 11 in our livestream, and join me in praying for God’s protection on our church, community, and the nations during this time.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

(For the Elders of Wildwood Community Church)

Corona and Control

Just a couple of weeks ago, I gathered with a group of high school sophomores and local business leaders.  One of the topics of conversation was “what is the biggest news story of your life?”  Most of the business leaders referenced things like 9/11 or the Murrah Building Bombing.  Most of the high schoolers mentioned Kobe Bryant’s death or the teacher walkout.  Honestly, it was fascinating for me to think that the bombing and 9/11 were events that took place before these high schoolers were born (I’m older than I think).  I also marveled at the notion that the biggest news stories of these young leaders’ lives were these events.  Today, though, as I think back on that interaction (which took place on February 29 — just 12 days ago) it is shocking that COVID-19 was not on the list.  If we were to meet this weekend, no doubt, the developing situation of the corona virus would be on the lists of both young and old . . . things have changed that fast.

Now, I know as I write this, some of you are already getting worked up.  This issue (like most in America today) is dividing people into polarized camps.  Some believe this is an overly exaggerated issue being intentionally used to create chaos.  Others believe that this is a potentially catastrophic event, on par with the Spanish Flu of 1918  . . . or worse.  I am not going to wade into that side of this conversation. Though I have my doctorate, I am not THAT KIND of doctor.  Truth is, most of you aren’t either.  Even our medical professionals are still trying to understand what this pandemic really means.  If the educated and informed lack total clarity on this issue, then I am guessing your facebook feed is also a bit confused, even if it sounds confident.

The fact of the matter is that there really is a new viral outbreak in the world that we all are having to deal with in some ways.  It is impacting our world financially, personally, professionally, and socially.  In 2020, everyone feels like they need to respond in some way . . . the onslaught of information almost demands it.  Every business I am on an email list for is sending me their “response” to this crisis.  So, I wanted to reach out today, and as a Pastor share some perspective on this situation.  If you want to consider this my “response” . . . so be it.  This note comes from me personally, not from any particular organization or church.

If how we personally deal with COVID-19 were a tree, then different fruits are being manifest in different people’s lives:

For some, their response to COVID-19 is the fruit of BRAVADO.  This fruit takes different shapes and forms, but when it is peeled the fruit of pride lies within.  BRAVADO leads to people daring others to shake their hands to demonstrate their courage and self-confidence, and leads others to show their disdain for newly enforced hygiene regulations by publicly violating them in jest.  Sadly, BRAVADO also shows up in churches where some Christians are mocking others for taking extra precautions as this pandemic spreads — the subtle thought being, “if you were spiritual or smart LIKE ME, you would not be concerned.”

For others, their response to COVID-19 is the fruit of FEAR.  Not the healthy kind of respect . . . but the unhealthy kind of crippling anxiety.  Most of us don’t have to decide if the public school system will cancel classes or if the University will move to online instruction or if we should keep that business meeting scheduled in London for next week or when the NBA will resume games . . . but when fear is driving your bus, you are obsessed with decisions you don’t even have to make!  

If you were to follow the fruits of “BRAVADO” and “FEAR” to their roots, we would find a common core:  CONTROL.  Though bravado and fear look different on the outside, on the inside they both root in a desire to be in control.  Bravado thinks, “If I can control the situation with my confidence, then everything will be OK.”  Fear thinks, “If I can just think about this long enough or hard enough, I can stay in control and protect myself.”  The common root of both of these is a desire for your self to be in control.

The truth of the matter is, part of the great frustration of a situation like COVID-19 is that it reminds ALL OF US that we are not in control.  An invisible enemy is transmitting more than a fever and cough . . . it is taunting us with the notion that we are not in control.

Now the World Health Organization, CDC, and government officials are all attempting to slow the spread of the disease by putting in protective measures.  These are prudent and wise.  However, remember, their attempts are to slow down the spread of the virus to allow the medical systems of our country to not be over-run.  Slowing down is not control. 

So, who is in control?  Well, as a Christian, I am reminded at moments like this that God is in control.  God is sovereign over the economy, school and work schedules, disrupted vacations . . . even the NBA!  He is the “King of all the earth (Psalm 47:7).”  “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Romans 11:36).”  The Lord “has this.”  He is the One who is in control. This does not mean that everything that happens is fun or enjoyable:  after all, in this life “all creation groans (Romans 8:22)” waiting for “the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23).”  Knowing Jesus is in control reminds us that “God works all things together for good for those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).”  

In this moment in history, instead of trying to personally gain control, let’s remember that God is in control.  When we remember that, and rest in His sovereign control, what fruits might we see produced in our lives?  Well, Galatians 5:22-23 lets us know:  “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  Against such things there is no quarantine . . . uh, I mean law!  This reminds us that if we are resting in the knowledge that God is in control, we will not mock the person who is prone to fear, but will love them, offer peace to them in Christ, exhibit joy regardless of our circumstances, have patience with the changes in our world . . . and with others, be gentle and kind in what we say and our actions – on social media and in real life, do good deeds – like caring for those who are affected, exhibit faith in God through the storm, and be self-controlled in our behaviors and responses.  These are the fruits we should “test positive” for if we are resting in God and His Spirit.

Tapping into the root of God’s sovereignty does not lead us to hoard cleaning supplies OR be snarky about how serious we think this situation really is.  Resting in God’s sovereignty allows us to LOVE THOSE AROUND US in the midst of difficult times, and be a source of HOPE and LIFE in a world that is challenged.

While every organization, Wildwood included, is wrestling through what programming looks like in the days of COVID-19, every Christian individual can rest in Him and see His fruit of the Spirit win the day.  

One of the high school sophomores 12 days ago made an interesting observation.  She said, “I wish that the biggest news stories were not always something negative.”  I love her thought.  What if the news story of this era was the way Christians loved and lit the world around them during a time of global fear and bravado.  What a contrast that would be.  What a story that would be!  In Christ, this is possible . . . so let’s lean on Him and follow Him together to the glory of God.