In those brief moments when coronavirus news coverage steers away from scary statistics and color-coded maps, human interest stories come into focus. In lieu of the actual events, some have arranged virtual graduations, Zoom weddings, and birthday parades via car. Despite these types of creative alternatives, 2020 will be the year of canceled vacations, postponed plans, and big disappointments. For some, those losses will cut deep and leave scars. While we might remind ourselves that nothing is certain in this world (except death and taxes), the truth is, we have come to count on our routines, the seasons of our year, and the rituals that define our own personal culture.
In my life, I faced an immense loss of dreams and plans when my best friend Ashlie died in December 2017. We had met in elementary school and many was the night after softball practice or yearbook committee that we would sit on her wide front porch and dream of our futures. We had so many exciting plans! Although decades passed and our lives took more than one painful turn, I didn’t finally face the disappointment of all those lost hopes until the Lord took her home. It was a moment of reckoning, of evaluating all that was behind me and all that lay before me. I realized I could not move forward without gently releasing my old, tattered dreams and claiming new ones.
God, in His great mercy, has been rebuilding the dreams of my heart with His Grand Plan. In the last two years the resurrection has become real to me — not just words on a page or a bullet point in my list of theologies — but a promise that I can cling to, a reality that brings tears to my eyes to think about it… we will really be in heaven someday! We will see one another again because Jesus rose from the dead! The truth of the resurrection has given me a hope that can never perish, spoil, or fade. This is not a wish, a whim, or an abstract idea tucked away in the corner of a little girl’s heart. Our destiny in heaven, as purchased by Christ on the cross, is a rock solid, for-sure, non-refundable, count-on-it-because-the-Lord-God-Almighty-has-said-it’s-true reality.
There will be more disappointments ahead of us in the next few months, and each will be a real and painful human loss. It’s important to grieve and lament, as David so often did in the Psalms. But as we climb past those disappointments, may we draw ever closer to an upper-story mindset. May our future plans be centered in the glory of eternity, which cannot be spoiled by a virus, physical limitations, government regulations, lack of finances, and no, not even (and most critically!) by death.
Father, today You know the desires of our hearts. In fact, You tell us in Your Word that You delight in giving us those desires! Right now, Lord, You are doing something in the world that is sometimes difficult for us to understand. In this time of disappointment and loss, draw us close to You! Whisper into our hearts that You are still in control, that You love us wildly, and have incredible plans for us! Surround us with Your presence when the fear creeps in, when depression tries to take hold, or when confusion causes us to doubt Your wisdom. Give us a vision for what You can do when the world is in upheaval. Show Yourself mighty to us! May we see Your fingerprints on our every day— in our interactions with others, in unexpected blessings, in supernatural provision, and in every opportunity for service and worship. Father, we yield ourselves to You to be used to spread Your Hope and Your Promises in the midst of this pandemic. Bring people into our lives that need to know You, and speak Your words of Life through us when those moments come. Oh Lord, give us eyes to see the miracles You are doing every day, and give us Your love for others so that we may not waste this opportunity! Meet with us as we take intentional time for sacred reflection. Father, we praise you as the God of all Creation, the Beginning and the End, the Prince of Peace, our Savior, our Rock, our Light, our Deliverer, our Fortress, our Shepherd, our Friend and Healer, our LIVING HOPE and — Hallelujah! — the Resurrection and the Life! We can’t wait to celebrate Your victory this Sunday and every day! In Your Son’s Precious Holy Name, I pray, Amen.