Isolated - Week One: The Cry Of The Lonely
Today we are launching a brand new sermon series that will take us through much of the month of October---a sermon series that I believe is both timely and vital considering the situation we are all in right now.
The series is entitled, "Isolated: Finding Joy Where You Are" and the focus of the series is simply this: With the challenges we are facing is an opportunity for new growth and new life. So for the next few weeks we will explore what it means to find joy where you are—no matter what.
I decided that for the first sermon in this series, I would do something completely vulnerable, and would allow you all a glimpse into my personal COVID journal. Some of my most private thoughts throughout this ordeal.
Don't judge me.
March 23, 2020
We're all sheltering in place right now. It's kind of awesome actually. I have created a list of all of the things that I need to get done around the house, projects I have been wanting to work on, books I want to read and movies to watch. Maybe this break is just what we all needed. I can't wait!
April 12, 2020
Easter was weird this year, but hey... we'll get through all of this by the beginning of June I'm thinking. Still trying to get to that list of things to do, but I'm feeling pretty good about it. Also, I gained a few pounds but it's all good. Back to the gym in a month!
May (Not Sure Of The Date), 2020
Not all that certain about whether things will be normal in June. Maybe by July. I lost my list of things to do. Maybe I threw it away, I can't remember. Also, I don't know what day of the week it is, so there's that. I could use some Ben and Jerry's.
I don't know what happened to June. It was June, and then it wasn't. I think my kids might be plotting against me. I see them whispering things in the corners when they think I'm not looking.
It's hot outside. I was frightened today by a guy who said something to me in the grocery store, and I couldn't understand him because we were both wearing masks. I think my mask is affecting my hearing. I think I need to buy some more things from Amazon. Suspicious of everyone in my house at this point.
Captains Log - Star Date 46254.7
I'm pretty sure the crew is planning mutiny. I've begun working on the warp drive to see if I can get it restarted. The ship is stalled somewhere outside the Ham-Handed Nebula, and we haven't moved in weeks. Can't. Take. Much. More.
I can neither confirm or deny if any of that was actually true.
All of this isolation has been challenging for each us, though. For some of us it has been excruciating. There is a dark side to all of this that we can't ignore. So if you have been feeling isolated... if you are struggling... dealing with anxiety... depression...
I want you to know that you are not alone. I'm with you.
And I know all too well what it feels like to experience anxiety and depression, to feel out of sorts, to be frustrated, sad, angry, overwhelmed... you name it. This has been my reality, as well---a roller coaster of emotions.
There have been more than a few moments during this whole thing when I have given voice to all of that emotion and asked God out loud:
"What the heck, man?!?!! Are you paying attention?!!? Are you even there??!!?
But what if... and this is a very important question that can help us make the kind of shift that we need to make to begin again, to find a new way forward... What if this was the moment that we have been waiting for?
What if this is the moment when we discover how to find our way again... to discover joy again... to reconnect with the things that really matter, and to begin to live into our best and truest selves no matter what the circumstances?
What if... what if this is a time for us to recognize more fully the presence of God in our lives? Which on the surface seems like a tall order, considering all of the stress and trauma that we've been experiencing, but still... What if?
I believe that the road ahead through the isolation and all it has wrought can begin with one simple recognition:
There is no such thing as isolation from God.
Our guide today comes to us from Psalm 139 from the book of Psalms in the Hebrew Scriptures. Let's listen to some of the words from this prayer:
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.