To Be Or Not To Be

I am sooooo done with Covid-19. Am I the only one that feels this way? I am done listening to our Prime Minister give his daily updates about the virus and how his government continues to spend our tax dollars on “helping” Canadians get through these challenging times. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out our Canadian economy will be adversely affected by this virus for years, maybe decades from now. My grandchildren will be paying for this long after Mr. Trudeau has left office, and is living comfortably on his pension.

I’m done listening to the news. The media is so negative, and adds to the hype and fear-mongering that is so prevalent lately. For my own mental health, I just have to avoid listening to daily news reports.

I’m done with masks, and protests, and long line ups, and no sports, and no concerts, and no Stampede Week, and not being able to hug my friends, and not being able to attend church, and social distancing, and running out of hand sanitizer, and, and, and……

I realized I had spent most of my morning complaining about all the things I was inconvenienced about due to Covid-19. The more I complained and fretted, the more I forgot all about a key scriptural mandate: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Apostle Paul must not to be misinterpreted here. There are no exceptions, no excuses, no way outs. We must in EVERY circumstance “give thanks”. The pattern of a Christian’s life is that we consistently, and endlessly give thanks to God.

I can feel the Holy Spirit nudge me. I know my heart is not in the right place. I have a critical spirit right now and I need it gone! I don’t want to admit fault, but I know I need to stop complaining and start being more thankful.

It’s a work in progress. I freely admit that. Two weeks ago I got another blood clot in my right leg. Just when I thought my health issues were behind me, I got hit with another health crisis. It’s knocked the stuffing out of me. I cannot find anything in this situation to be thankful about. My leg is swollen and painful, and I’m back on blood thinners. It’s hard to feel upbeat and grateful.

Still, I think about how far I’ve come since last year and I must give thanks! I was gearing up for my first round of chemo last year. Praise God that is all behind me! Sometimes I must look back in order to move forward.

To be thankful or not to be thankful? It’s not a choice. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:15-17)

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The Lord Sees the Heart

It was a smaller demonstration than the ones we had seen on the news this week. It was a peaceful gathering held in Calgary, in response to the brutal death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There were signs held up, tears, silence, people taking a knee, prayers lifted for the family of Mr. Floyd, and calls to end the violence against people of colour. One sign that particularly caught my eye read: “What would Jesus say about Racism?”

Since Jesus did not speak directly to the subject of racism, I can only speculate how He might react to this week’s events, and these verses come the closest to answering that question.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

According to Webster’s online dictionary, racism is defined as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” Based on that definition alone, Jesus would be in complete opposition to racism because He does not look at the outward appearance of someone; He looks at their heart.

1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

I read a particularly good quote by Darrell Bernard Harrison, Dean at Grace to You and lead host of the “Just Thinking” podcast. “Many people, he said, “say they want to “end” racism. I understand what they mean by that, but “racism” isn’t like a carton of milk with an expiration date. Biblically, ethnic prejudice (“racism”) is not an “ism”, it is hate—period (1 John 2:9-11; 3:15) —and the only way to “end” hatred is by repenting of that sin and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 John 4:9-11).”

Amen.

Jesus is “colour” blind. It does not matter to our Lord whether a person is black, white, yellow, red, or a combination of those skin-colour pigments. He made man in His own image, perfectly and wonderfully made, in every size, colour, race, and ability. Jesus loves ALL people equally. Jesus does not look at the outward appearance of a person, but He looks at the heart, and this is what he sees:

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

A good man stores good things in his heart, but an evil man stores up evil in his heart. And the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:45)

It is from within a person’s heart that evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly come. (Mark 7:21-23)

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” (Proverbs 27:19)

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” So, God looks from heaven to see if there are any who seek God. (Psalm 14:1)

“A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21:2)

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

People justify themselves by what others think of them, but what people value highly is detestable to God. God knows their hearts. (Luke 16:15)

“The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse, but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.” (Proverbs 11:20)

The hearts of people are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts. (Ecclesiastes 9:3)

Does this shock you? It should. The sad fact is that humanity’s overall heart condition is deplorable. What we say and do reflects our heart condition. We cannot hide our true nature from God. The heart gives us away. For the most part, we follow our hearts, and it is our own undoing. Unless we allow Jesus into our hearts to change us from the inside out, we are doomed. He is the only One Who can set our hearts right.

Racism is a heart issue not a race issue. Let’s face it, to be racist and full of hate is to sin. The only way to end racism and hatred for good is to repent of that sin. Jesus is the only One Who saves us from our sins, so we must put all our faith and trust in Him! Racism will only be defeated if we follow the teachings of Jesus, and we begin to love others as we love ourselves. My dream is that one day we can all live in peace and unity as brothers and sisters in Christ!

“He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:9)

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Getting Back to “Normal”

https://www.vancouverisawesome.com/events-and-entertainment/cartoon-the-new-normal-2320887

Alberta Health has a phased-in approach to re-opening its economy after the Covid-19 lockdown. Last week my husband had his first haircut since March. I wasn’t going to attempt to cut his hair, both of us acknowledging my lack of prowess with handling scissors. So his hair sprouted with wild abandon over the last several weeks, and as soon as the barber shops reopened in our small town, he was one of the first to make an appointment.

He’s been the one out and about over these many weeks while I stayed at home. My cancer treatments last year left me with a compromised immunity, so I’m considered to be more vulnerable and at risk for complications if I should contract Covid-19. At least that’s what doctors tell me. So I’ve stayed home to stay safe and my kids and my husband have been diligently looking after my well-being.

I had thought once my second journey with cancer was over last year, and my energy started to rebound, I’d be able to return to some semblance of normalcy. Then Covid-19 hit. In some ways I have felt even more isolated, and vulnerable than when I battled cancer! In fact, when both my husband and I came down with a 24 hour bug a couple weeks ago, that had us both coughing and sneezing, I was convinced we were infected. It turned out to be allergies. Pre-Covid, we would never have given our symptoms much thought. However, now when we sneeze or have a mild headache, we get nervous. Paranoia is a terrible thing.

Normalcy, according to my husband is “a constant state of change”. Cancer last year, forced a new “normal” in my life as we adapted and accepted new realties. Our lives changed dramatically after my diagnosis. Plans changed. Daily schedules changed. My appearance changed. I am still dealing with the fall-out. (Did you catch my attempt at tongue in cheek humour there? 🤪) My chemo curls are just one of the many things I am adapting to in my new reality after cancer.

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced our country and the world to take extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of the deadly disease, I can’t say I was particularly upset with the stay at home orders. In fact, in mid March, Alberta was still in the grips of winter, so it was like having an extended “snow day”. We curled up in front of cozy fires, binge-watched Star Trek episodes, and enjoyed the solitude. However, it wasn’t long before the endless snow days started to wear on us, so we did what everyone else was doing, we cleaned house! That led to days of sorting, organizing, and cleaning out closets, storage rooms, and garage. It was satisfying and productive work, but only kept us occupied a couple more weeks, and then we were looking for other distractions to pass the time. In the midst of all this, I felt an almost overwhelming sadness being separated from my children and grandchildren. I am blessed all my children live only minutes away from me, but that only accentuated the separation from them more. To be so close to them, and yet unable to be physically anywhere near them broke my heart.

I have come to abhor the term “social/physical distancing”. When it was first defined at the start of this pandemic, I thought it a necessary protocol to help prevent the spread of the virus, however it has now developed into a societal fear of proximity to people in general that I believe will have far-reaching implications long after Covid-19 is gone. Cases in point: my daughter recently got into an unpleasant verbal exchange with a lady in Walmart who yelled at her for being in the same aisle as her. The lady was determined no one could be in the same aisle with her. I guess she needed way more than the 2 metre distancing to feel safe. My sister-in-law was accused of stalking a lady because my sister-in-law happened to be following her around a store, while maintaining distance, but still needing to follow designated arrows to move about in the proper direction. Basically this offended the lady who didn’t like this “follow-the-leader” approach to grocery shopping. My husband has had several encounters with people who looked panicked if he happened to pass them even with the 2 metre distancing between them strictly adhered to. Breathing the same airspace seems to rattle people! It’s not unusual for people out for a walk to cross the street to avoid getting close to anyone else. It just saddens me to see fear in people’s eyes rather than a friendly smile of greeting.

I am concerned that physical distancing will be our new normal now, not because we need to, but because Covid-19 has made us fearful of having any human contact whatsoever. We will become a touch less society, where individuals will go to great lengths to avoid one another. We already interact with one another so much through technology, will conversing through social media, and video conferencing be even more prolific and more acceptable in our post-Covid world? Will that become our new normal rather than in-person, face-to-face interactions? Oh, I hope not!

I honestly don’t know what “normal” will look like in the next few weeks and months. Everything has changed in such a short amount of time, and it keeps changing almost daily. We have had to adapt to all the new health protocols. Businesses have had to change how they do business. Travel restrictions and safety protocols will affect future travel plans. Education and teaching will have to be modified to accommodate student’s needs in a post-Covid world. Churches and their leadership will have to adapt to the new challenges of ministering to people who may fear congregating together even after the pandemic is over.

It may interest those from outside of Alberta to read the current protocols churches must follow here in this province. (See Alberta health protocols for churches.) Take special note that we cannot congregate in groups larger than 50 people, children are not to attend kid’s church or be in nurseries, and there are to be hand washing stations, as well as numerous other safety rules we must follow in order to meet in our church buildings. We can’t perform Baptisms, take communion (Lord’s Supper), or participate in congregational singing at this present time. Oh, and no sharing of food! As a Baptist, the idea of no potlucks is truly discouraging. 😁

Seriously though, this is our current reality. It’s a whole new normal, and it takes some getting used to.

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