Highs and Lows

Highs and lows.  That’s how I would explain the last 3 months.  

And the lows have been pretty low.  For 36 years April and I have been planning our lives around Sundays.  It is the Lord’s Day after all.  But more than that, we’ve been congregating with God’s people to worship the Lord in prayer, in singing, fellowship and the proclamation of God’s Word.  Sunday’s have been the fulcrum of our lives for a very long time.  And then all of a sudden, we were cut off from the hundreds of people we love as a church family.

I don’t need to state the obvious, but I will none-the-less.  We couldn’t even see our own family.  We were restricted to our homes basically.  Like you, we felt the isolation as a deep pain in our soul.  Just so you know.  Not seeing my grandchildren is the worst.  April and I even celebrated an anniversary during the pandemic but honestly it got overshadowed because we weren’t able to get away to honor the day.

Another low has been conducting funerals during the pandemic.  I’m used to grieving with families whose hearts are broken in the death of a loved one.  I’ve been organizing and leading funerals for a very long time.  But this has been unique.  There has been another traumatic layer of sadness added to the burden of loss.  I thought last week that I was not going to be able to hold it together long enough to help a family through their extreme grief.

Add to an already low time, the crisis within a pandemic and your heart can sink to levels you didn’t know were possible.  The darkest realities in our world have added to the low that most of us already feel. 

There are many other lows.   But there’s been highs too.

When the pandemic began, our family gathered online numerous times during the week to connect and to pray.  Although Facetime and Messenger and Zoom (etc.) has been a hidden blessing, it sure isn’t the same. 

I had the privilege of conducting a wedding during the COVID-19 crisis.  It wasn’t what the couple had been hoping for but it was still amazing.  With family looking on from the patio and watching via the internet from as far away as Idaho, the captivating and compelling love of Jesus Christ for His earthly bride once again beautifully highlighted in the exchange of sacred vows to “love and hold dear until death shall separate us.”  It gave me goosebumps!

Probably my greatest high was this past Sunday.  The church sponsored a drive through drop and greet.  It was two hours of bliss for us as pastor and wife.  We saw the church show its true colors once again.  It was a combined event of donations for the Eden Food Bank and a chance to say hi to each other from behind a mask while slowly driving through the church property.  We collected 460 bags and boxes of food items, or 5,650 pounds of food.  THANK-YOU church family and YEAH for Eden Food Bank.  But the high for April and me was to see your face and be closer than we have been allowed to be for three months.  I’m still flying high from it all.  Have a look on the church website and Facebook page for some of the great pictures of the event.

Another high for me has been the preaching of an unplanned teaching series simply called “Shalom.”  God’s Word is the hope and strength for born-again Christians.  And He is called the “God of Peace” numerous times in the Bible.  One of the earliest benedictions in the Bible includes the blessing of “shalom” (Numbers 6).  It’s been a high for me to park on this idea every week to remind you that God’s presence is with you and brings you shalom, peace. 

So in the end, life is filled with highs and lows.  But through it all He never leaves us nor forsakes us.  And His presence is all the shalom you need. 

Pastor Deric

Soul Care

There has not been a time in recent history when taking care of your soul has been more evident than it is right now.  Not that caring for your soul has ever been less important before now.  It’s just that we have become aware that taking care of oneself is more than guarding against a viral contagion.  Soul care is the word that I use in addressing the “entirety” of your being.  According to the Bible, you exist as a spirit, soul, and body. You are both material and spiritual in being.  You have a body, you have a spirit, and you have a soul.

For the last three months or so we have all been given a crash course in taking care of our bodies in defense against the COVID-19 virus.  Wash your hands, practice social distancing, wear a mask, and avoid touching your face are among the most common guidelines we hear every day.  Of course, we Canadians are uniquely blessed to live in a country where we have access to the best universal health care in the world. (We owe that blessing in large part to the hard work of former Baptist pastor, Tommy Douglas).

But if you take care of your body and neglect your spiritual being you will only be addressing one part of your identity.  And the opposite is true.  There are many very committed Christians who neglect the proper care of the body and suffer needless consequences as a result.  Physical exercise and a good hobby, for instance, can contribute a great deal to your overall health. 

In his helpful book, Soul Care, Rob Reimer refers to soul care as the “foundation” of the “building” of your life. It’s a good analogy. If you spend all your time on cosmetics but neglect the foundation, your life is destined to weaken over time.   

I’ve always loved the simple description about the life of Jesus Christ offered by Dr. Luke in his Gospel account.   He says that Jesus “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”  Jesus experienced life as a whole human being.  He grew physically, spiritually, and emotionally. That is God’s equation for all human beings. 

The Bible has a lot to say about your “inner being”.  I’ve learned from experience that most problems can only be solved from a wholistic approach of balancing the body and the mind as it was designed to be lived.  When I’ve tried to force a lopsided answer to a problem in my life, it’s only frustrated me.

So, if taking care of your soul is the foundation, as Rob Reimer illustrates, what would you say is the first and most important lesson you have to learn?  It’s a good question.  Dr. Bill Thrasher wrote a book called “How to be a Soul Physician” in which he teaches that one “can never overemphasize the resting truth of God’s loving acceptance.”  Until we learn the basic truth that there is “no condemnation to those who are in Jesus Christ” we will suppress and silence the invisible working of our inner life.  Christians have been given the most coherent and compelling pathway to a thriving soul.  Here’s how the book of Romans puts it . . .

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Stop right now my fellow Christian and park on the idea that you are God’s beloved child. Do you see it, accept it, and thank God for it?  You are loved and forgiven. 

That is the rock-solid foundation upon which we build our lives. 

Shalom church family!
Pastor Deric