Are you depressed? Are you struggling with anxiety? Do you find yourself pensive about the future, like you're waiting for the next shoe to drop? If so, you are not alone! Well, you may be physically alone, but there are many others who feel the exact same way you do.
A new term was introduced to us this year: “Social Distancing.” Scientists and government officials continue to warn, even mandate, we maintain a “safe” distance from each other if we want to slow the spread of the Covid 19 virus. Most of the country is struggling to comply. Why? It is counterintuitive. We are not wired that way. In difficult times, we need each other to survive.
Friends, there may be pressure to postpone getting together with others but God is saying something very different. He is pleading with us to stay together!
We should not stop gathering together with other believers,
as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other
even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.
We are drawing near to the time when Jesus will return and take us HOME. However, in this world, while we wait, we will “have trouble.” In fact, God’s Word tells us there will be a great “falling away” as people reject and rebel against God. As Christians, we will face trials of all kinds, and even persecution. Anti-christian forces will grow in number and strength. Even now, racial tensions, kids not returning to school, financial instability, and other hardships can be overwhelming. This is a battle you can’t fight alone!
That is why it is critical you have a “band of brothers or sisters” in the trenches with you. Do you have that? Have you surrounded yourself with people who share your convictions, values, and love for God? If not, you are in danger. Not of catching Covid-19, but of compromising your faith or falling away.
This is what happened to Lot and his wife. Their story can be found in Genesis 19. Lot started out strong. He believed God, and followed his uncle Abraham to the Promise Land. But once there, Lot made a fatal mistake. Although he could have lived anywhere in the Jordan valley, he chose the prosperous city of Sodom. Leaving his uncle's community, he put down roots in the city known for its sexual perversion and wickedness.
The result? The family prospered financially and socially, unaware that they were in imminent danger. A great outcry coming from the victims within the city reached God’s ears. He sent his angels, disguised as men, to carry out his plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.
When the angels arrived in Sodom, they were invited by Lot into his home. That night, a mob formed and insisted Lot release the men. They wanted to rape them! What did Lot do? Under stress, in a crisis, he attempted to protect the angels by negotiating with the mob. Had the angels not intervened, Lot would have handed over his own two daughters to be raped instead! Lot’s solution to the crisis reveals the extent he had been negatively influenced by the sinful city's culture.
Recently, a friend of mine moved back to what she considers home. She left 5 years ago with her husband and two children and returned alone. What happened? While away, they drifted spiritually. Although the family attended church almost every Sunday, they made new relationships with people whose values and beliefs differed from their own. Gradually, they adopted the lifestyle of those around them. They did whatever felt good; nothing was off limits morally speaking.
Tears stung my eyes as she recanted her experience. “I don’t believe any of this would have happened if we hadn’t moved. There were too many people in our lives that would have helped us stay on track.” I had to agree. Her story highlights how the negative influences of our culture can lead us down a road we will regret later.
Friends, you will become like the people you spend the most time with-so choose wisely. Given the current moral climate of our world today, we need people in our lives that will call us higher. It’s been said that “If you hang out with chickens, you’re going to cluck; and if you hang out with eagles, you’re going to fly” (Dr Steve Maraboli)
What are you doing to be a part of a community of Jesus followers during the pandemic? Maybe you have been putting it off, until things go “back to normal.” I want to encourage you to make it a priority now. It’s challenging, but it can be done!
Here’s a few suggestions:
1. Thoughtfully identify your “Social Bubble”.
Have you heard this term yet? Your social bubble is a group of 10 or fewer people you have chosen to engage with in community. The group agrees on how much interaction members have with others and things like wearing masks.
2. Calendar a rotating day/time to get together.
This is what my husband and I have been doing. We are still committed to our local church. However, we don’t physically go to church. Not yet anyhow. Instead, we meet with three other couples on Sunday mornings. One of us prepares a song to sing together, another reads a chapter out of the Bible, and then as a group we discuss it and how it applies to our lives. Then we pray for each other. It’s very simple, but powerful.
3. Join an online opportunity
Maybe your church has life groups that are meeting online together. Join one! I am in several different groups right now that meet on Zoom. I would prefer in person, but to be honest, the experience for me has been great.
Bible Studies, like Bible Study Fellowship are available worldwide online. Many of them have a small group component.
You can create or join a Facebook group. In fact, I will be launching a closed Facebook Group soon! Be looking for the opportunity to sign up on facebook or Instagram.
We are living in a crucial time in history. God wants us to thrive, to soar above the trials and experience his presence in community with other believers. Don’t put it off! Make a plan today, and experience life the way God intended.
The power of community is a theme in this book that tells my story. I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse, but repressed most of the memories until I was in my late 30's. It was a difficult journey, but I experienced healing. Two of my friends followed in my footsteps, and their stories are also in the book. If you or someone you love has experienced trauma from domestic violence, sexual abuse, or having a sexually deviant spouse, i believe they would benefit from reading Love Gone Wrong, Living Happily Ever After as Survivors of Abuse.
Available at most book retail stores like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Aunties Book Store, and for a reduced price at laurelbahr.com/shop SAVAnon is a nonprofit that exists to create awareness regarding the emotional harm done by sexual abuse and to provide a pathway to healing for those that have been affected. I am on staff as a Director. Our free eight week healing groups are offered online. You can get more information or register for a group at savanon.org
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