Shifting our focus
The COVID-19 lockdown, as well as restrictions on travel, has had some unexpected consequences, including a decrease in pollution around the globe. A recent article shared the news that after many decades, the people of India are suddenly able to see the Himalayas again because of the significant decrease in the activity of modern industry. Just imagine the thought processes of those who had heard about the Himalayas but had not lived long enough to be able to enjoy its beauty as they now can!
The mountains have been there forever, but what was missing was the view. It took a pause on economic and commercial activities for people to get closer to something real without having to move from their dwelling places.
What does it take for us to be able to experience God in a way we never have before? Maybe pausing our busy comings and goings; maybe the sudden increase of space outside and the decrease of space inside our homes; maybe taking the time to catch up with others and hear stories that we never paid attention to before; maybe the intention to study the Word of God and listen to Him in prayer; maybe the rediscovery of gifts in the family; maybe our hands working on that project that has been waiting for such a long time; maybe even the limitations and frustrations of technology. Through all of these, we suddenly begin to experience the presence of God in a new and fresh way.
Amid the changes in recent weeks, the power of the words in this old hymn speak to us:
Master, the tempest is raging
The billows, the billows are tossing high
The sky is o’ver shadowed with blackness
Oh, yes it is
No home nor help is nigh
Wake up, Jesus
The winds and the waves shall obey thy will, peace be still
Peace, peace be still
Oh, peace be still, peace be still
No matter the storm
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will.
Peace, be still; peace, be still.
The author, Mary Ann Baker, was inspired by the gospel story of Jesus rebuking the wind on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:36-41). She pondered a personal season of rebellion that she experienced when she lost her parents and brother to tuberculosis. She thought that God did not care that they had died or that she was in personal pain. One day she heard the Master’s voice in the midst of her storm, and she gained the much needed calm and experienced God in a new way.
It is difficult but not impossible to shift our focus from the storm of COVID-19 to the wonderful things that God continues to do in our midst. There are some great signs of that fact because, as a people, the Nazarenes are using their stay-at-home time to renew the beautiful ways God has been working on us. Not only that, but we are recognizing the ways that God is for us, and we are able to respond in new and different ways. Praise the Lord! May God help us see Him in fresh ways and to shift our focus as the limitations that we face cause us to discover new possibilities and pathways for living in His presence.
--Board of General Superintendents
Click here to watch a video devotional, "Peace in the midst," from General Superintendent Eugénio Duarte.