March 9, 2020 seemed like a normal Monday until my phone rang on the way to Bible study. It was my daughter telling me the Governor had declared a State of Emergency. Even after I heard the news and looked it up on the internet I had no idea what that was going to mean for the next year. We were in for a completely new journey! Quarantine, digital worship, Covid19 life complications and change became normal things over the next year. Then the world added Racial tensions and Political drama to the chaos. The world of March 8, 2020 was gone after March 9th. We were on an unchosen fast!
We closed our buildings and learned the strength of church beyond our walls. We have watched family, friends and loved ones die and all too often die alone without family and without funerals. We have watched events cancel and we've been asked not to spend time with people. We have worshipped at home in pajamas with coffee instead of communion and learned zoom and social distancing with masks. People have stayed home rather than a million things. It's been an emotional roller coaster that seems to take a strange turn just when we think things are stable in the chaos.
BUT! it's a big but. God has been gloriously present. The picture was a place Michael and I walked throughout the year in all of the seasons. It was where we went to find the Holy and not be immersed in the losses of the day. It's the path that probably saved our faith, our marriage and our ministries. We hurt badly from all the world offered in the past year and yet God found us in the depth of our worldly hurts and sorrows. In the midst of everything finding God became so easy when we were on that path.
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Sometimes the fast isn't one we choose, but it can be incredibly powerful and life-shaping as we walk through it. Walking the unchosen fasts of life are difficult and oftentimes incredibly painful. I know there are moments of joy sprinkled in them, but the pain is incredibly real. The past year has held a great deal of pain and I'm sure it will be a long time before we fully understand all of the ways we have been changed during this unchosen fast. But, God has been present! God has not given us strength and has lifted us to soar. Remember, God Wins!
May you know the Lord is Everlasting giving us strength!
Rev Heather S. Schimmel
Lyons Christian Church