By Ryan Rice
I laid my phone down for a few moments, needing a break from social media, email, and non-stop news of COVID-19. Briefly, I wondered, maybe we’ll get back to normal in the next week or two.
Then an alert on my phone, “Governor extends stay at home order until the end of April.” Like the Psalmist, I began to ask, “How long, Lord?”
For the past few weeks, we’ve entered into a new normal. Home has become a literal sanctuary of safety, worship, and work. Schools, churches, and extra activities have all come to a halt.
My theology informs me that amid the turmoil, God is still sovereign. Psalm 135:6 tells us, “The Lord does whatever he pleases in heaven and on earth.”
As followers of Christ, we must find rest knowing our God is still in control, and no pandemic has caught Him by surprise. As we do, we must ask the Lord to help us adapt to the changing world around us.
Reflecting on our current situation and what it could mean for our future, there are several things about this season that could prepare us for when things return to what used to be our normal.
1. FAMILY WORSHIP
The other day I sat down for dinner with my wife and kids. I pulled out a thick green book with music notes and words on the inside.
I asked my kids what they thought it was, and they said, “A book of music.” Yes, we sang from a hymnal.
During our family dinner time, our kids like to share their high of the day and their low.
We read or listen to Scriptures, I offer some thoughts, we walk through a short catechism, and then we sing. In all, this takes about 10 minutes.
If I am honest, before the pandemic, I was too busy with everything else, even to be consistent with our family worship.
I’ve come to realize, I had the time. I needed to be more intentional.
2. SELF CARE
Yes, a concept many pastors like myself don’t always do an excellent job implementing in our lives. Let’s face it; many times, we care for others but don’t often care for ourselves.
Since this pandemic, we’ve been riding bikes, walking, and playing catch outside. I felt like a whole new world opened before my eyes, or at least one I hadn’t stopped to enjoy in a long time.
I struggle with anxiety. It’s something I have to daily trust God to walk with me and give me the strength to overcome.
Part of the reason for my anxiety is I often go, go, go, and never stop. I am thankful for this pause, this chance to breathe.
3. CREATIVE MINISTRY
Several weeks ago, I planned for our Tuesday night, Sunday morning gatherings. I looked forward to seeing the people I pastor, shaking hands, seeing smiling faces.
Yet, how do you do that if you can’t leave your home?
I’ve been amazed at seeing the creativity of pastors and churches across America. From the drive-in worship services, livestreaming, to small virtual groups.
I pray this trend doesn’t end after this pandemic passes. We need to take the unchanging message and continue to find creative ways to reach people.
Thom Rainer said we should ask the question: “How can we capitalize on this moment to make changes to our church and ministry that we have always wanted to make?”
When I hear of people coming to faith in Christ and desiring to be baptized during a pandemic, it shows me God has never left His throne.
4. REST KNOWING GOD IS ENOUGH
I’m a doer. If my schedule is full, for me, it’s still not full enough. I always want to make sure I’m maximizing my time and resources for the glory of God.
Yet, one thing this moment has shown me, it that I often work to please God instead of resting that God is pleased with me because of the finished work of Christ.
There are things I’ve been doing for the sake of merely doing them. Saying “yes,” far too often, while neglecting stuff I should be cultivating.
I’m sure many pastors can relate to this. Yet, what if this time is showing us, as important as we think our work is for the Lord, we’re not able to do anything without Him.
Jesus said, “ I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me” (John 15:5).
Yes, we’re in a new normal, but could it be some of the things forced on us, should be things we need to keep as our world begins to turn again?
RYAN RICE, SR. (@ryanricesr) is husband to Seané, father of Ryan, Jr., Brayden, Reagen, and Bailey, and has been in ministry since 2007. He’s currently the lead pastor of Connect Church of Algiers in New Orleans, Louisiana, which they planted in 2014.