When 2021 began my thoughts along the topic of a new year arriving reflect the struggle we had then, and from which we are not fully free yet.
Here is how I started a new post then:
“The new year has begun, and here is where we are:
— No internet in our house for the past 21 days (in spite of visits from 6 company technicians, and multiple calls to the internet provider!).
— The city of Santiago is back in quarantine on the weekends, meaning there is not going out of the house without a police permit.
— A vacation trip we had planned to the northern city of Iquique was cancelled by the airline.
This song expresses our feelings, not only today, but in many moments during this pandemic. Perhaps they will speak purpose and decision into your day too:
“I spend all my time,
Dreaming what the future’s gonna bring.
When all of this time,
There’s a world passing by right in front of me.
Set my sights on tomorrow,
While I’m tripping over today.
Who says big things,
Are somewhere off in the distance.
I don’t want to look back,
Just to see all the times, that I missed it.
I want to be here and now,
Starting right here, right now.
With the very next words,
Of love to be spoken.
To the very next heart,
That’s shattered and broken.
To the very next way,
You’re gonna use me.
Show me the next thing,
I’ll do the next thing.“*
How often during these 18 months of quarantine have I had to recalibrate my plans. How often has government restrictions on public meetings made personal interaction and fellowship impossible. How many cancelled plans and trips have made me put something on hold! So now, today, and often, I repeat these words to myself! Not only to myself, but to our family, enclosed and cloistered, in the long periods of waiting.
This brief reflection was written in February 2021. But I still chose to publish it for a couple reasons:
- I am reminded that every day is a gift from the hand of God. Whether in lockdown or on vacation (we did take trip this year in January! 2022), our lives are in His hands.
- The brevity of life means we don’t live anticipating something off in the near or distant future. We live to bring life, hope, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone near us–TODAY!
- And especially because we have come to see how shattered and broken the world really is…which is why we are here in Santiago, Chile in the first place.
Now, having dealt a full 22 months with the virus, and rounding the corner for 23 months, as of February 2022, our world still struggles with fear from the virus of COVID-19. Yesterday’s worship service had almost as many people present at the church building as were present online. This would not be a concern, except for at least three of those families have said they will not return to in-house services “until this thing is over.” Just how long will that be?
The fact of the matter is, ministry has changed permanently, or so it seems. Life has changed permanently in many ways. And change after change still is redirecting or reshaping our lives. Now the question is simply: how do we make the most of the reality we now live with?
One way to make the most of our new reality is to work extra hard at intersecting with those people who are nearest, those whom you see most often. In other words, work to sure that each time, as many or as few time that you meet, that you take time to talk about eternity!
Another way is to purposefully reach out to those you know in similar situations. Our national Chilean pastors and their families have all faced hardship in some way or another. Thus, we can make it a point to help them bear their burdens by showing our concern through a personal note, a call or a visit.
Finally, we can make good use of the “new normal” by explaining to our own families how to be alerted to the unexpected opportunities. This coming Sunday is Super Bowl 2022, and our ministry team have all been invited over to our home to share the game together. But not only missionaries are being invitied, so are our Chilean brethren. Most of them say the “do not understand American football,” but I am sure that they will understand the language of fellowship in Christ that we can share with them while watching it…not to mention a few laughs as we see their puzzled look on their face about what a “saftey” is or why the punter kicked the ball after just 3 downs!
David L. Rogers, M.A. Min,
- Lyrics by Bernie Herms / John Mark Hall / Matthew Joseph West, Casting Crowns. The Very Next Thing © G650 Music, Pure Note Music, Highly Combustible Music, House Of Story Music Publishing, Songs Of Universal Inc., One77 Songs.