|I can never escape from your Spirit!|
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
Psalm 139:7-10 NLT
Do you have childhood memories of road trips?
Whether it was a two-hour drive to visit grandparents or the long haul to Disney World, there came a point in every childhood road trip at which I was simply DONE. I was done counting out of state license plates and playing “I Spy” with my brother. I was done looking for funny signs and listening to Read-Along cassette tapes (yes, I am a child of the 80s!) My being “done” usually resulted in annoying my parents with different versions of, “How much longer until we’re there???”
I’m not much better as an adult. Some years ago, a friend and I road tripped from seminary to visit a former classmate in Mississippi. We woke up one morning in Atlanta, got in the car, and drove to Mississippi. We were somewhere in Alabama when I realized I was done. The worst part of the trip came when I dropped my friend off at her house in Decatur. It was an interminable 20-minute drive from her house to mine. I was so close! Why couldn’t I just be home already? Yet, I knew in Alabama the same thing I knew in Decatur. The only way to be done is to keep going.
I think I’m starting to feel that way about COVID-19. South Carolina’s infection numbers continue to rise. People continue to suffer. The uncertainty about things that were once certain is taking a spiritual and mental toll. Yet, I must remind myself of the same lesson I learned in Alabama and Atlanta. The only way to be done is to keep going.
I don’t know how and I don’t know when, but I do know that at some point I can put away my masks. At some point, I can hug necks and shake hands. At some point, Bethel’s campus will again be filled with people and the sound of the assembled people will be like choirs of heaven! #Halleluia But, the only way to get there is to keep going.
When we originally shared Bethel’s plan to move through this Coronavirus season, we fully expected to be moving into Phase 2 of re-opening around this time (being back to in-person worship each Sunday, starting weekly in-person Bible Study, etc.) That, however, is no longer the best way to proceed. Until COVID-19 cases decline, we will remain in Phase 1: our office remains closed, our worship remains virtual and our meetings happen via Zoom.
In the meantime, let us not lose hope. There will be an end to the pandemic. There will be an end to social distancing. Like a child on a road trip, none of us truly knows when this long, difficult trip will end, yet we can be assured that the end will come. Still, the only way to get there is to keep going.
In Psalm 139:7 the Psalmist asks God, “Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?” The answer is nowhere. There is nowhere we can be and nothing we go through that God is not with us. God is with us and God is for us. Until this season is over, let us keep going with the sure and certain knowledge that we do not go alone. Thanks be to God!
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Julie Belman