A Strange Anniversary

It was great to be back at church this past weekend!  I was so encouraged to see many faces walk through our church doors to experience the fellowship, encouragement, and worship that only comes through the gathering of God’s people.  I think our recent winter storm taught us that it’s easy to take some things for granted such as power, water, and access to safe roads.  But it also reminded us that it’s easy to take church for granted as well.  The local body of Christ is so pivotal to our spiritual and mental health, and when the doors are closed, we simply aren’t the same.  So I was thrilled that we could reopen our church last Sunday and resume the ministry that Christ has called us to in this city.

I know we are all so grateful that the winter storm is behind us, and we can now move forward.  However, I realized this week that we have now been weathering a much more powerful storm for nearly a year.  This Sunday will be the 1-year anniversary of America’s last “normal” Sunday.  This is of course because COVID-19 became a household term that following week, and the virus left its impact on every entity across the globe.  Sunday March 8th, 2020 was a day that will be marked in church history, as whispers of a new “coronavirus” were making their way through our country that morning.  However, people still gathered in their respective churches to fellowship and worship as usual.  Then as we all know, reports began to get grim that following week, and virtually every church in America shut its doors the following Sunday.  And tragically, many in our country have not been back to church in-person ever since.

In my life, I remember that March 8th date very well.  I was in the pulpit at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Tx preaching on David and his sin with Bathsheba.  I was not fully aware at the time, but ABC also had members of its pastoral search committee in that worship center with me as I was presenting God’s Word.  It’s pretty amazing to look back at it from my perspective because a transition was happening right in front of me even though I did not fully see it.  God was about to literally shut the doors to my current church, but also open a door to my future church.

I share all of this because I think it’s important for us to understand a key truth: God is always at work even when we can’t see it.  We are all caught off guard by the problems of this world every day.  Yet Jesus knows everything, sees everything, and thankfully, He has a plan for how He’s going to use everything for His glory and our good.  Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  It’s easy to focus and fixate on the problems of these past 12 months, but I encourage you to not miss the work that God has done amidst it all.  People have come to saving faith this past year, and countless believers have been refined in their faith through the fire.  God has extended the reach of His Gospel this past year through expanded media platforms and ministry innovations.  And everyday people like myself and so many of you have been matured and empowered to advance the true Kingdom, even as our earthly kingdom experiences ongoing unrest.

I encourage each of you to ask yourselves a simple question this week, “How has God worked in my life this past year?”  If you’re in Christ, I can assure that that God has been at work in you.  He always desires to work in you, and then through you, to impact a world that needs Him.  So ask yourself where have you seen Him work in your life this past year?  How has he matured you and what has He been speaking into your life?  And perhaps even more importantly, what has he been calling you to do?  Paul is going to explain this weekend that God is indeed at work and desires to use each of us even in the storms.  But He can only work through us effectively if our minds learn how to “forget,” and our hearts learn how to “press on.”  I look forward to unpacking these ideas with you in Philippians chapter 3 this Sunday.  Love well and serve well this week, and I look forward to seeing you at worship.

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