Get Thee Behind Me, Fear of COVID!

Even as I am grieved and aggrieved at masks, social distancing, and other evidences of people tormented by Fear and lies, I am glad of the changes I see.  In me.

After the third “encounter” with extremely aggressive and just plain demented-by-fear folks because my mask was below my nose, I am at a good place with it all.  I am in a place of prayer, day in and day out, and all the day long.  And even as I want “the end of masks forever and ever amen” all of it is growing me, hooray.

I wasn’t always so sanguine, and handled each mask attack differently.  To the first “helper” I said, “I don’t need a mask, I have Jesus,” which caused him to physically jerk and jump, and then scuttle away as quickly as possible.

I wasn’t feeling so smug after subsequent incidents.  “You’re not that special,” I said to three store clerks actually shouting at my husband and me across the store (about 30 feet away).  We turned and left the store, where they no doubt lamented the idiocy of stupid old goats like us who are too dumb to understand the importance to us all of wearing the masks.

Then there was the wild girl who looked like she was about to lose it, so I pulled up the mask and said just loudly enough for her to hear as I left the store, “Shove it up your ass.”  Yay, Bev.  Way to go!  That really was brilliant and beautiful.

And then.  She was a young mom who just really, really, really got under my skin.  If you’re a bit “mature” as am I, you know the one.  She thinks her child is the first and only and she’s God’s golden model of excellence in motherhood.   Along with that pride, of course, is the knowledge that anyone past fifty is passe, and must be helped and educated and somehow tolerated.  Just the memory of that encounter.  Well, I didn’t say much to her, as she made it clear that listening wasn’t her strong suit.  But I lost my joy over it to the extent that I had to come up with a strategy.

Obviously, I reasoned, these helpful little darlings aren’t going anywhere (there have been two more happy times to date).  I had gone through the usual prayers of repentance, forgiveness, etc. but I couldn’t shake the aggravation of Super Mom.  Finally, I did two things:  I made a plan for exactly how to handle it next time; and I gave her a name and went to work in prayer.

I named her Amanda and her baby Chloe, and prayed for her husband, home, finances, everything that came to mind.  I prayed her free from fear.  And I determined that the next encounter will go something like this:

Helper:  I’ll need you to pull your mask up all the way and keep your nose covered.

Bev:  Oh, certainly, even though I can’t breathe and it’s very unhealthy, and the masks don’t work.  I’ll do that for you, and listen to your views about this, and very respectfully, and in return I’d like to ask you to listen to my views about the real reason, even deeper than those I mentioned, about the mask.

Helper:  OK (not looking very ecstatic so far).

Bev:  The real reason is that Jesus is my healer.  I haven’t been to the doctor since my last child was born twenty years ago, and (if there’s a child) I can tell you how to raise that child free from the torment of Fear.

Helper:  Uh . . . (she very well may leave with a pithy comment about my selfishness and ignorance, punctuated with sighs and eye-rollings, in which case we hope Bev’s best laid plans don’t fly out the window as she blows it yet again).  But let’s just suppose things remain civil.

Bev:  Here’s my card.  I’d love to talk to you about this.  And pray with you.  You don’t have to live in fear.  Call me.  Really.

Helper takes card and I ask if she’s brave enough to shake my hand.  I ask her for her name and tell her I’m going to pray for her, assuring her that I’ve been where she is, only probably much more fearful, as I was a world-class worrier once upon a time.

I hate Fear, and I hate the author of it.  The Great Deceiver, Father of Lies.  

If you’re under the dominion of Fear nothing I can say will change your mind.  The mask, may I suggest, is your God.  But could I implore and beg you to look at the words of God, the deeds of Jesus.  “For God has not given us a Spirit of Fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.”  You can’t have it both ways, if you bow to fear, you will be powerless, unloving, and not of sound mind.

Let us all pray for victory over Fear. Let us pray for each other and let us be changed.  Amen.

WHAT? ME WORRY? I’M DONE WITH DEFEAT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Watching everyone lose their minds over Covid has been more than perplexing and puzzling.  It’s been revelatory!  I am EXCITED about what God’s up to here.

Now, before anyone thinks I’m saying God did this, I’m not!  But the Bible tells us He turns what Satan intends for evil to the good of those who love Him.  For me, that is so, so true.

I am seeing (so surprising) that it is often those who never set foot in church who have the most light and the least fear of a flu bug.

I’m finding those who didn’t finish high school, and certainly never got a college degree, are the ones who see through the lies and laugh at the fear.  I’m learning from those “least likely to succeed” types, how to succeed.

There is both logic and the ability to listen without pride, to what I have to say, from those among us who are humble.  And it’s humbling.  And freeing.  To such as these I can talk about ideas.

So here’s an idea:  What if everything we’re worried about and carrying on about in the world, is simply the inevitable consequence of a church that has dropped the ball.

What if the fear that was festering in the breasts of the world, exploded when the church showed that all its talk of faith was a farce, as doors closed without a whimper, citing misunderstood scriptures as justification.

Here’s the thing about all this “obedience to civil authority” stuff.  If obedience to authority is making you comfy, question your motives.  If it’s making you very, very uncomfortable, go with it.  God’s ways are often a bit stretching.

Let me elaborate:  When the likes of Paul and Peter admonished their wildfolk followers to behave and obey laws, they (Paul and Peter) were either on their way to, in, or just out of jail.  For, you guessed it, misbehavior and disobeying “authority”.  It went without saying, so they didn’t say it, that they weren’t talking about disobeying God in order to obey man.

This Covid thing is causing us to look to the real Author and Finisher of our Faith, and it’s obviously not someone who preaches, but does not practice, faith.

“You have to be ready to go to jail,” I said to my daughter about it.  “I am, Mom,” she said.  “I refuse to live in fear.”

No fear here.  As for me and my house, we will obey the Lord.  And to help us in that we’ll hang out with people of simple, unpolluted (by Bible college?) faith.  Amen.

P.S.  If our Founding Fathers had mindlessly obeyed man, had done the comfy thing, there would be no America.  If Paul and Peter had obeyed man, there would be no New Testament, and no New Testament church.  Wait?  Is there a New Testament church?  I’ve looked all over my town and the only one I can find speaks only Spanish.

Perhaps I should learn Spanish.  Or just go to “church” with my daughter, which is on the streets, with the poor, tired, addicted.  The humble.

Church.  What is it?  Who is it?  Who’s the Boss of it, of me?  One of the speakers at the Bible college my daughter attended was saying that American Christians need to be more like the Russians, where “they don’t have the problem we have here with submission to authority.”

We became a nation in part because God wanted to deliver people who were sick and tired of tyrannical authority and who came here for FREEDOM (such as my Russian friends), not yet another yoke of bondage.

There is one God, One Savior, one Final Authority.  And it AINT a man in a suit in a pulpit with a degree giving him man’s stamp of approval.  Will the real Christians please stand up?

Yes, I am asking myself if I qualify.  Do I trust and obey?  Him.

P.S. I was never afraid of the flu, but I was distressed by the frenzied and mindless mask and sanitizer worship, by the evidence of a society-wide lack of faith. I struggled with an uneasiness and  uncertainly early on (when we still called it Corona Virus) and when I prayed about it I realized I had made a grave error.  I had judged other Christians for their faithless reactions, for fear.  Well, as you may or may not know, it’s not only what you fear that will come upon you (see Job), but it’s also what you judge.  So, I repented and began to pray for the Church, and indeed the whole world, to be free from fear.  Absolutely free from the awful torment of fear.  Agree wtih me, please.

And another thing!  The reason I am free from fear is because, day in and day out, I read the Word of God, which builds and builds and builds my faith.  “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

 

What I Did on My Corona Vacation

Over the past several months, I have frequently pondered the possibilities for the closet in my foyer (once used as a little office by children now grown and gone).  When a speaker at my church started talking about the marvels of having a Prayer Closet, I began to scratch that itch, one I didn’t even know was there.

Could the foyer closet work?  Maybe, but shouldn’t a Prayer Closet be quiet, rather than in the flow of traffic?  And it was a bit small – would the fetal position actually be conducive to hearing from God?  That, I knew, was what I wanted.  I wanted to pray Holy Spirit-led prayers, to be changed, and a conduit of change.  I wanted to commune with God.

I dared to dreamUninterrupted.  Private.  Whenever I wanted or needed to get alone. A place for all my stuff, my prayer and praise “paraphernalia”.  Mine.  So I could be more His.

And there it was – the room attached to the side of my utility room, functioning as linen closet, gift wrapping station, sewing/ironing spot, storage for kites, puzzles, paint, defunct pillows, lawn chairs, and Christmas decorations, revealed to me its true purpose.  I rolled up my sleeves.

Where to begin?  First came organization of the back shelves, which included large piles for both Goodwill and the trash, along with condensation of Christmas decorations.  Curtains were hung over the shelves, and the much needed deep cleaning began.  A good bit of elbow grease and five tubes of caulk later, it was painting time.  I chose a very pale yellow green for it all, but it was too much.  Toning it down was as easy as painting the ceiling, door and window trim white (with the palest ever peachy/pink tint).

Now for the fun parts.  For several days I found and added treasures to enhance my space.  It was as I hung my window treatment that I realized this room was originally supposed to be a bathroom.  Why else would it have an opaque bathroom-sized window?  I smiled as I wondered and whispered, “God, I think you stopped the bathroom construction because you thought, ‘Someday Bev will need a prayer room.’”

Finally, after about a week’s work, I sat down to engage.  The first day I got a straight-from-Heaven word.  I’d been praying about certain people, with a troubled and weary heart, and I asked God for “a word”.  I randomly opened the Bible to Jeremiah where my eyes went directly to a verse that emphatically answered my heart’s cry.

Day Two I got another powerful word, which developed during the next several hours and into the following day, and it set me free from a thirteen-year relationship struggle.

On the third day I filled my journal, writing as quickly as possible so as not to forget anything, with new and freeing revelations.  Since then I wander into my Prayer Closet early and late, as well as between times.  I enter knowing I have a need of something, and I come out with something to meet the needs of others.  Sometimes meeting the needs of those who love me most is just a matter of getting my joy back, and passing it on with a smile.

Pehaps you’re wondering whatever happened to the closet in the foyer, and what did I do with my linens, ironing board, etc?  The foyer closet is now my sewing station.  The ironing board and iron rest in my bedroom closet.  This is very handy for John and me, as we can step right out of the bathroom, do our ironing, and dress right then and there (I haven’t quite worked out that wrapping station bit, but I will, and quite likely as I’m sitting and dreaming in my lovely new Prayer Closet).  As to the linens, I have a new and improved setup.  It’s two cleared shelves in the utility room (they were in great need of clearing) and I had the most fun and felt ever so elegant and superior throwing out ratty linens, and folding the remaining items with perfect symmetry.

Symmetry.  That’s the word for what a prayer closet can do to your spiritual life.  Plus, it’s just so much fun!