Years ago, many years ago, we had a Bible teacher named Mr. Feenstra. He would ask us questions for which there were no answers. At the time we thought they were really dumb questions because there wasn’t an easy answer.
I am finding during these last weeks that there are a lot of questions without answers. I am also finding that the older I get…the more questions I seem to have. I find that my world gets grayer right along with my hair!
I have been reading a lot of posts on social media these last days. Probably because I seem to have time to do that. I also am curious what people are thinking and what my friends and family are doing.
Many of these posts raise more questions for me, about this time in our world. I read posts about how, staying home is what a “good Christian” would do. I read posts saying that saving a life is the top priority. I read posts about how people are suffering during this time and how they are overcoming.
Some of the questions I get to thinking about in the wee hours of the morning: Am I a better Christian staying home and staying safe and keeping others physically safe or am I a better Christian going to the home of a person who lives alone and desperately needs someone to physically give them a hug? Is the need for physical safety higher than the need for emotional and mental well-being?
I wonder if the need for physical safety trumps the need for spiritual well-being and worshipping with community. I wonder if physical safety is better than financial safety and at what point does financial insecurity become physically unsafe?
Where is the tipping point where self-isolation becomes harmful in more ways than physical? At what point do I sacrifice my well-being to tend the very real needs of someone who needs me to be physically there?
I read stories of those who are hurt by the lack of physical contact that comes with hugging someone you care about, but does not live in your home. They are hurt by the glares they receive if they come within 5 feet of someone in the grocery store instead of maintaining the standard 6 feet. Is one persons need of physical safety higher than another’s need of emotional, mental, financial and spiritual safety?
I don’t know the answers to those questions and I am struggling with them as I watch the farmers in our area grow more and more concerned about how they will make it. I watch small business people worry about the employees they had to lay off and furlough and wonder if they will have a business to go back to. I see teachers aching for their students.
I see pastors struggling with the fact they have to do their job long distance. I see stories of domestic abuse on the rise due to being stuck at home where it is not safe. There are stories of families going hungry because their parents do not work at an “essential business”. At what point do these issues become as important as staying healthy? At what point does staying isolated become selfish instead of selfless?
I wonder if following all the rules, while neglecting all my questions makes me a “good Christian” or a “good Pharisee”? Does posting judgmental comments on social media against those who are not reacting the same as me, make me socially responsible or a social bully? At what point am I just surviving instead of living? So many questions……very few answers.
I do know that history will judge us. It is always easier to judge after the fact. I wonder how we will look through the lens of time. Will we look like people who cowered in fear? Will we look like people who sacrificed for the needs of others? Will we look like people who were discerning and had wisdom? Will this just be a blip in the timeline of our world or will this so change our world that we no longer recognize it? Will we be judged on our lack of ability to listen, really listen to someone who had a different opinion than us?
What I DO know is this…now is the time to encourage and lift each other up. Now is not the time to beat each other over the head with our presumptions of how others should live or react. Now is the time to listen, to hear each other….to talk with each other and connect.
“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way…” 1 Corinthians 13:4,5a,b. I also know I must not fall into the trap of thinking that this verse is perfect for so and so because they are, or are not social distancing…..because that is not really love at all.
You may wonder why I posted a photo of rocks. For me rocks are solid. They are not easily chipped. They are not tossed about by random winds of change. They become smooth and shiny and beautiful with the pounding of storms. They stand firm.
Soooo…..a big thank you to Mr. Feenstra….the teacher who taught us to think beyond what we see. He taught us discernment and we never even realized that is what he was teaching. He taught us to plant our feet on solid ground…something that will never shift. He taught us that when firmly planted; we can truly listen, hear, see and be love to those around us. He taught us to be rocks…….and maybe that is our answer to all those questions…….
give me firmness without hardness,
steadfastness without dogmatism,
love without weakness.”
― Jim Elliot