Refocus, respond to the invitation, stop and smell the roses!

“Oh, that my words were recorded,
    that they were written on a scroll,
that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,
    or engraved in rock forever!
I know that my redeemer lives,
    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
    with my own eyes—I, and not another.
    How my heart yearns within me!” – Job 19:23-27

author Derek Maul

Earlier this week I took a day off from writing to just enjoy the beauty of a late-April spring day. It had been a difficult few days for my parents so we decided to pile in the car and spend the afternoon touring Wake Forest. We drove to the town center, checked out some of the more picturesque neighborhoods, cruised (twice) up and down the North Main Street historic district, and visited Joyner Park. 

Then we stopped by the Wake Forest Presbyterian Church campus, where my parents very much enjoyed looking at the expansive, fruitful, and beautiful community vegetable gardens. Dad was able to get out of the car and we walked back to the Rose Garden, where he sat by the fountain and enjoyed soaking in the peaceful atmosphere for a few minutes.


It is too easy to become so completely dominated by the Coronavirus story that we lose focus and perspective, watching hours of repetitious and redundant coverage, worrying, speculating, blaming, and – a word I came to appreciate reading the work of psychologist Albert Ellis – “awfulizing.”

(Ellis coined the term in reference to distorted thinking; when we “awfulize,” a negative event or situation is thought of in exaggerated terms that tend to paralyze us).

The consequence is that we tend to forget to, quite literally, smell the roses. It just so happens that this time of the year in North Carolina is springtime at its most inviting. That means the invitation is out there, waiting for us to respond. What are we going to do?

We could wallow in our anxieties, glued to hyperbolic news coverage that is (possibly) worth staying up-to-date with every other day or so, or we could respond positively to the invitation to enjoy this amazingly beautiful springtime.

Garden at WFPC

Remember, this is a theme I constantly return to with Jesus. Jesus is God’s invitation; so how are we going to respond?

Sunday morning I offered this prayer at the beginning of my (Zoom) Sunday school class. I believe it works also for today.

Loving God, we come to you today as a people who feel stuck in a situation over which we have no control. We are frustrated, impatient, worried, and unsure of the road ahead. Yet it is a road. So our prayer today is that you accompany us as we navigate this uncertain journey and grant us peace along the way. We do not expect answers, but we would definitely appreciate the comfort and the reassurance your presence provides. The affirmation and the promise of Easter still resound in our spirits, “Because he lives, we can face tomorrow, because he lives, all fear is gone! Because I know he holds the future, and life is worth the living, just because he lives.” Amen

Peace, and I mean that in every way – DEREK

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