Never be lacking in commitment, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – Romans 12:11-12
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Sunday morning Rebekah and I got up extra early so we could drive to Virginia Beach and spend a little time with her sister Rachel’s family (Rachel’s husband, Tom; their children – Reed, Micah, and Faith; Faith’s husband, Steve). We met for church and then enjoyed a long lunch together.
At church we did something I haven’t done since I was a teen; we sat in the back row!
I’ve got to tell you, physically being in church for worship, actually with other people (just a few), was the absolute best. There were 42 people in a sanctuary that probably seats 250; the service was also live-streamed for those who feel more comfortable staying home; everybody followed all the stringent protocols with care. I have absolute confidence that attending live worship involved less risk than a hundred other activities we all engage in many times per week.
Also, being in worship together sets the context for how this family engages with grief. And that is especially important in light of the fact that Tom’s father died later Sunday afternoon, and Heather (Rebekah’s brother Jesse’s wife) lost her dad Saturday.
Faith that is systemic, not topical:
“systemic” means embedded within and spread throughout and affecting a whole system, group, body, etc, whereas “topical” means of current – or local – interest.
This family doesn’t sprinkle on some faith at key moments, topically, like being spritzed with a little Jesus out of a can, like a puff of hairspray to hold things in place. Faith is systemic, and it bubbles up out of the substance of who we are because it is already there.
This is what I am getting at pretty much every time I share some kind of a devotional thought in this space. I talk about inviting God into the moment by moment, the ebb and flow, the essential composite elements of the constant here-and-now.
Faith that is transformational and life-changing, so real and comforting when tragedy strikes, is not kept in the closet with our Sunday best and then hauled out for the occasion.
When you watch an athlete or a musician conjure some improvisational move seemingly out of thin air, exactly when it is needed, such sure-footed-ness is not accidental, nor is it previously unimagined or unrehearsed. The apparent effortlessness comes out of hundreds of hours of repetition, practice, training, and commitment.
Likewise the invitation that is ours to walk with God. It is an invitation first to commitment, then to training, to practice, and to repetition.
Grief still hurts, tragedy is awful, and pain is real. But so is our faith in God, moment by moment, every day, in commitment and in practice. – DEREK