- Deuteronomy 4:29 ESV
But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.
- Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
- Deuteronomy 10:12 ESV
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lordyour God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
- Deuteronomy 13:3 ESV
you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
- Deuteronomy 30:6 ESV
And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
- Joshua 22:5 ESV
Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
- 1 Samuel 12:20 ESV
And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.
- 1 Samuel 12:24 ESV
Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.
- 1 Kings 8:61 ESV
Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”
- 1 Chronicles 28:9 ESV
“And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.
- Psalm 86:11 ESV
Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
- Psalm 119:10 ESV
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
- Psalm 119:34 ESV
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
- Psalm 119:58 ESV
I entreat your favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
- Psalm 138:1 ESV
I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
- Jeremiah 29:13 ESV
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
- Joel 2:12 ESV
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
- Matthew 22:37 ESV (also Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27)
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
- Nehemiah 8:10 NIV
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
- Psalm 22:19 NIV
But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
- Psalm 27:1 NKJV
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
- Psalm 28:7-8 NIV
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
8 The Lord is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
- Psalm 29:11 CSB
The Lord gives his people strength;
the Lord blesses his people with peace.
- Psalm 37:39 NKJV
But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
He is their strength in the time of trouble.
- Psalm 46:1 NIV
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
- Psalm 118:14 NIV
The Lord is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.
- Psalm 119:28 NIV
My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word.
- Psalm 138:3 NKJV
In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
And made me bold with strength in my soul.
- Proverbs 18:10 NASB
The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous runs into it and is safe.
- Isaiah 12:2 NIV
Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
- Isaiah 33:2 NIV
Lord, be gracious to us;
we long for you
.Be our strength every morning,
our salvation in time of distress.
- Isaiah 40:29 NIV
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
- Isaiah 40:31 NIV
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
- Isaiah 41:10 NASB
‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
- Habakkuk 3:19 NIV
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
- Mark 12:30 NIV
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
- 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
- Ephesians 3:16 NIV
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
- Ephesians 6:10 NIV
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
- Philippians 4:13 NIV
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
- Genesis 1:2 CSB
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
- Genesis 1:21 CSB
So God created the large sea-creatures and every living creature that moves and swarms in the water, according to their kinds. He also created every winged creature according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
- Job 38:8-11 CSB
Who enclosed the sea behind doors
when it burst from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
and total darkness its blanket,
when I determined its boundaries
and put its bars and doors in place,
when I declared, “You may come this far, but no farther;
your proud waves stop here”?
- Psalm 8:3-9 CSB
When I observe your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you set in place,
what is a human being that you remember him,
a son of man that you look after him?
You made him little less than God
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of your hands
you put everything under his feet:
all the sheep and oxen,
as well as the animals in the wild,
the birds of the sky
and the fish of the sea
that pass through the currents of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
how magnificent is your name throughout the earth!
- Psalm 89:9 CSB
You rule the raging sea;
when its waves surge, you still them.
- Psalm 93:4 NASB
More than the sounds of many waters,
Than the mighty breakers of the sea,
The Lord on high is mighty.
- Psalm 104:24-26 CSB
How countless are your works, Lord!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Here is the sea, vast and wide,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.
There the ships move about,
and Leviathan, which you formed to play there.
- Psalm 107:28-30 CSB
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
They rejoiced when the waves grew quiet.
Then he guided them to the harbor they longed for.
- Psalm 139:9-10 NASB
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
- Psalm 146:5-6 CSB
Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea and everything in them.
He remains faithful forever,
- Isaiah 43:2-3 CSB
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you,
and the rivers will not overwhelm you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be scorched,
and the flame will not burn you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior.
I have given Egypt as a ransom for you,
Cush and Seba in your place.
- Jeremiah 31:35 CSB
“This is what the Lord says:
The one who gives the sun for light by day,
the fixed order of moon and stars for light by night,
who stirs up the sea and makes its waves roar—
the Lord of Armies is his name:
- Amos 9:6 NASB
The One who builds His upper chambers in the heavens
And has founded His vaulted dome over the earth,
He who calls for the waters of the sea
And pours them out on the face of the earth,
The Lord is His name.
- Micah 7:19 CSB
He will again have compassion on us;
he will vanquish our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.
- Habakkuk 2:14 NASB
For the earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
As the waters cover the sea.
- Matthew 8:27 CSB
The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the sea obey him!”
- Revelation 15:2 CSB
I also saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had won the victory over the beast, its image, and the number of its name, were standing on the sea of glass with harps from God.
There’s building. And then there’s re-building.
My son is a builder-of-Legos. They are the first item on any birthday or Christmas wishlist and they are his favorite presents to open and play with as soon as the celebration time is done. In just six years, he’s amassed quite a collection of super-hero, Star Wars, and dinosaur Legos.
(And this is what can drive me crazy).
He does not keep his Legos together, perfectly constructed, high on a shelf, all the pieces still in the right places. (How could we possibly have enough shelving to do that?)
No, as soon as the Legos are built, they are played with relentlessly. Pieces come off. Those pieces then become new creations with pieces from other sets, a mishmash of Lego bricks.
There are some of us (me) who like things to always look like the instruction manual, as if there is a “Right” way to build with these Legos. When a piece comes loose, we pull out the picture and put it back exactly where it is supposed to go.
My son is not that person. He swaps dinosaur legs and superhero bodies, and he combines kits relentlessly. He is silly at times and innovative at other times.
Sometimes I envision having so much free time that we can spend days sorting the Legos back into sets and then following those instruction manuals once again to put them all together the right way once more. This sounds like the ultimate project for me. Get everything “right” and all will be right with the world.
That hasn’t happened yet.
It would take extensive time and great effort, of course, because I truly think building is far, far easier than re-building. Building starts with such a clean space. The pieces are clearly sorted and separated. Building does not begin with confusion.
But re-building starts with brokenness and mess and rubble and has to restore what’s broken and re-make or even re-design what is lost.
In the book of Nehemiah, God’s people rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem that had been destroyed by their enemies and had lain in ashes and mounds of rubble for years.
During the rebuild, they were taunted, mocked, and threatened by new enemies, and yet they kept working. Some guarded while others built. Some built with one hand holding a weapon and the other hand laying bricks. They refused to be sidetracked, delayed, or stopped.
The rubble, however, almost defeated them. Nehemiah 4:10 says:
In Judah, it was said:
The strength of the laborer fails,
since there is so much rubble.
We will never be able
to rebuild the wall.
” (Nehemiah 4:10 CSB).
That’s what almost broke them.
Kelly Minter writes in her study on Nehemiah:
It was that exhausting rubble that just about took them down. What rubble in your life is presently the most discouraging and exhausting? (p. 56).
This year, it’s easy to be defeated by brokenness. Ministries, jobs, finances, churches, school plans, friendships and connections with others… all may be in need of rebuilding, and such rebuilding is exhausting and hard.
We can’t just jump in with a brand new vision, a clean slate and build. No, we need to re-build. There are hurts tangled up in this. There is sadness over what is lost. There is stuff we have to let go of and get rid of. There is letting go of the known. There is anger and frustration. There is uncertainty. There is a feeling of helplessness and powerlessness because we have no control.
There is a tremendous desire to just get things back to the way they were before, the way they are “supposed” to be—and then set those constructions high up on a shelf so they can never be changed again.
That is not our reality. So we need God to equip us for the rebuilding, to strengthen us to face enemies and strengthen us to clear out the seemingly never-ending rubble and start raising the walls again.
Nehemiah said to the discouraged, worn-out, battle-weary people of Judah:
“Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes” (Nehemiah 4:14 CSB).
Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome.
This is not too much for Him. That is the reminder I need. It may take time, it may take creativity, it may mean hard work and standing against the Enemy.
The truth remains, though: Our God isn’t just able to build; He is able to rebuild. He has done it before and He can do it again.
- 1 Chronicles 16:34 CSB
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his faithful love endures forever.
- Ezra 3:11 CSB
They sang with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord: “For he is good; his faithful love to Israel endures forever.” Then all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s house had been laid.
- Psalm 25:8 CSB
The Lord is good and upright;
therefore he shows sinners the way.
- Psalm 27:13 NASB
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
- Psalm 31:19-20 CSB
How great is your goodness
that you have stored up for those who fear you
and accomplished in the sight of everyone
for those who take refuge in you.
20 You hide them in the protection of your presence;
you conceal them in a shelter
from human schemes,
from quarrelsome tongues.
- Psalm 34:8 CSB
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
How happy is the person who takes refuge in him!
- Psalm 100:5 NASB
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
- Psalm 107:1 CSB
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his faithful love endures forever.
- Psalm 119:68 CSB
You are good, and you do what is good;
teach me your statutes.
- Psalm 145:5-7 NASB
On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.
6 Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts,
And I will tell of Your greatness.
7 They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness
And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.
- Psalm 145:9 CSB
The Lord is good to everyone;
his compassion rests on all he has made.
- Nahum 1:7 CSB
The Lord is good,
a stronghold in a day of distress;
he cares for those who take refuge in him.
- Romans 2:4 CSB
Or do you despise the riches of his kindness, restraint, and patience,not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
- 2 Peter 1:3 CSB
His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
- Exodus 14:13
And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again (ESV)
- Deuteronomy 31:
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
- Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened,and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
- Nehemiah 4:14
After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
- Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
- Psalm 27:1
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
- Psalm 34:4
“I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”
- Psalm 56:3
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
- Psalm 56:4
In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
- Psalm 91:4-6
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
- Psalm 112:7
He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
- Isaiah 35:4Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
He is coming to save you.”
- Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
- Isaiah 41:13
“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
- Isaiah 44:8
Fear not, nor be afraid;
have I not told you from of old and declared it?
And you are my witnesses!
Is there a God besides me?
There is no Rock; I know not any.”
- Isaiah 51:12
“I, I am he who comforts you;
who are you that you are afraid of man who dies,
of the son of man who is made like grass,
- Jeremiah 1:8
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”
- Zephaniah 3:17
For the LORD your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.[a]
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
- Matthew 6:34
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
- Matthew 10:31
Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
- Mark 5:36
But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” (ESV)
- Luke 1:74-75
We have been rescued from our enemies
so we can serve God without fear,
in holiness and righteousness
for as long as we live.
- Luke 12:32
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
- John 6:19-20
They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, 20 but he called out to them,“Don’t be afraid. I am here!”
- John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
- Acts 18:9
And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent,
- Romans 8:38
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
- 2 Timothy 1:7
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
- Hebrews 13:6
So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
- 1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
The high school band awards banquet was a little different this year, just like all of our end-of-the-year celebrations. We’ve had drive-through graduations and drive-through kindergarten completion ceremonies, kindergarten dance parties over Zoom, and awards announced on YouTube.
On band banquet night, instead of being with the band or being at a banquet, I rushed home from another meeting to pull up YouTube and watch on my laptop while I folded laundry in my living room.
My daughter’s band director wore his normal suit and tie while announcing well-deserved awards and identifying next year’s leaders, keeping as many things normal for them as he possibly could.
Then he said the oh-so-familiar words:
I don’t know.
I don’t know what marching band season will look like next year or if we’ll even have one, but the best thing we can do is to prepare as if it will be a normal year.
I’m a choral director and I’m in the middle of planning Christmas music, but everything I say begins like this: I don’t know what it will be like, but….
I’m a mom with four kids who are all anxious about the fall. Two of my children are leveling up to new schools they’ve never attended before, so that’s extra-new and extra-anxiety-producing for them. They ask me about schedules and classes and extracurricular activities and I have to say it every single day right now: I don’t know how it will be next year….
I’m a church leader trying to minister and plan who just keeps saying the same thing at meetings, “I don’t know whether this will work or not, but….”
I. Don’t. Know.
It’s been a deeply humbling season of uncertainty and dependency. I can’t know so I can’t plan and I can’t rely on those plans.
It’s every week and every day waking up to handle just this moment, this need, this task ,this decision, this day’s reality, and then being content at the end of the day with just making it through today and moving on to tomorrow.
The truth is, if I think too much about a month from now or three months from now, I’m overcome—just washed over by a wave of anxiety in an ocean of panic and sorrow about all the loss and all the change.
Stormie O’Martian wrote a book called Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On and I’ve been thinking about that step-by-step life of trust. I have to lean into Jesus so I can see the step He’s lighting for me. No rushing ahead or stumbling ahead or falling dangerously ahead of the light He gives.
One. Step. At. A. Time.
And that’s enough.
In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat faced a multitude of armies threatening his kingdom all at once. He didn’t have just one enemy to fight. The Moabites and the Edomites and the Meunites had all gathered for battle against him.
He was afraid.
Of course, he was afraid. God knows it’s so easy for us to all be afraid of these enemies amassing against us.
He didn’t cower, though, nor did he rush in to save the day with his own strength, with battle strategies or soldier recruitment plans, or the counsel of his generals.
Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord (2 Chronicles 20:3-4).
He prayed. He fasted. He asked others to pray and fast with him. He earnestly sought the Lord.
He said the very words and prayed the very prayer that I have been returning to since March:
…For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chronicles 20:12 ESV
I truly am so powerless in this. I am not in charge of what school will look like in the fall or the rule about gatherings or whether there is meat and toilet paper in the store on the day I happen to shop.
We are powerless and we do not know what to do, Lord, but our eyes are on you.
My eyes keep wanting to shift their focus. They are wayward. I look at the problems, at the world, at the news, at the numbers, at the Governor’s announcements, and at the Facebook and Instagram drama.
Fix my eyes, my heart, my mind on you alone, Jesus. In the moments when I do not know what to do (and there are so many, Lord), help me look to you and you alone.
- Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
- Joshua 1:9 ESV
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
- 2 Chronicles 15:7 ESV
But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.”
- Psalm 27:14 ESV
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
- Psalm 31:24 ESV
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord!
- Psalm 34:18 ESV
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
- Psalm 42:11 ESV
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
- Psalm 55:22 ESV
Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved
- Psalm 94:14 ESV
For the Lord will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
- Isaiah 40:31 ESV
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
- Isaiah 41:10 ESV
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
- Matthew 11:28 ESV
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
- John 16:33 ESV
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
- Romans 12:12 ESV
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
- Romans 15:4 ESV
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
- 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
- 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ESV
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
- Galatians 6:9 ESV
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
- Colossians 3:23-25 ESV
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.
- Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.
Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.
- Psalm 34:1
[ Psalm 34 ] [ The Lord Delivers the Righteous ] [ Concerning David, when he pretended to be insane in the presence of Abimelech, who drove him out, and he departed. ]
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
- Psalm 71:14
But I will hope continually and will praise you more and more.
How happy are those who reside in your house, who praise you continually. Selah
- Psalm 119:20
I am continually overcome with longing for your judgments.
But you must return to your God. Maintain love and justice, and always put your hope in God.
[ The Parable of the Persistent Widow ] Now he told them a parable on the need for them to pray always and not give up.
giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Therefore, through him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.
I’ve found myself repeating one particular Facebook comment in the last few weeks, over and over, post after post. I have one thing I keep saying:
Way to be creative!
In the middle of coronavirus craziness, I’m stunned by the creativity of teachers and business owners and churches and more.
I’ve seen our local parks and recreation have to cancel all summer programs and then the karate instructor get permission to take his class outside.
I’ve seen a gym owner who can’t train others inside the gym, so he does social distance training from his own home and even hosted an outdoor boot camp.
I’ve seen churches offer online services, hymn sings, drive-in prayer meetings, and meal distributions with toilet paper.
Teachers have my kids doing Star Wars work-outs, musical hopscotch, virtual field trips, scavenger hunts and nature walks.
Theaters are live-streaming productions of Shakespeare I’d never have seen otherwise. I’m watching virtual choirs and bands jamming together over Zoom.
Restaurants closed down indoor seating and quickly transitioned to curbside delivery and take-out.
Our local pottery painting studio made adorable take-home kits and our library posts a steady stream of videos with stories and drawing lessons and more.
We’ve watched zoo safari lessons and the interpreters at Colonial Williamsburg busy at work all from our living room.
There are days and moments within days that I begin to feel doomed and in despair, especially when I hear about changes they might make to the schools next year. I fret over what my kids will experience and all that they have to lose. I’ll have two high schoolers next year who love the arts and I’m reading articles saying that band, chorus, and theater are all on the chopping block because of coronavirus concerns.
Oh, do I worry.
I do not like the potential of a new normal and I’m relentlessly brokenhearted about each loss for my children.
And then I remember the creativity I have seen in the people around me….and the seemingly endless capacity for human creativity points me back to the undefinable, unlimited creativity of our Creator God.
He is not surprised by our situation and He is able to rescue and redeem us in it.
I read this today:
Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us— to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
He is able, not just to do what we expect or imagine, but to do far more than that. He is able to go above and beyond.
G.K. Chesterton said:
The trumpet of imagination is like the trumpet of the resurrection. It calls the dead out of their graves.
God creates beauty from ashes. He forms a world out of the void.
He resurrects what is dead and heals what is broken. He makes us new. He is making everything new.
And when we create and imagine, we are just imitating our Heavenly Father and the resurrecting, creating work He is always doing.
So may it point us back to Him. May all the innovation we see around us encourage us to bring all the worry and all the struggle to a God who can do a new thing in us and around us.
In Romans, it says:
Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection. Romans 6:4-5
It’s this creative, resurrection work that I’m looking to Christ to do, in me and in our churches and communities, in my kids and their situations. We have not seen the limit of what God can and will do.
Of course, the super-planner-extraordinaire in me wants to nail down the details. Get it all in writing. What exactly will it all look like? When can I know?
But that’s when I see another example of someone being creative and I remember our God creates–above and beyond. He helps us “walk in newness of life,”‘ overcoming what we experience, enduring what is difficult, holding onto hope, reaching what is promised.