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Putting Things in Perspective

The past month or so has been an emotional whirlwind for the entire world, myself included. I launched a young adult men's pickup basketball network that was taking off and on the verge of evolving into a full-fledged league. I was planning on leading a team of Chapel people on a mission trip to Colombia. I was getting ready to launch future "Coffee on Campus" ministries at new colleges and universities. On a personal note, I was counting down the days until I flew to Greece for my Summer honeymoon. And in the blink of an eye, it was all wiped out. Postponed. Canceled. Delayed. It seemed like the entire world was coming to a halt and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

While I'm thankful for the opportunity to work from home, I am quick to admit that I miss seeing all of my friends and family. I miss chatting with members of the congregation on Sunday mornings. I miss collaborating with Chapel staff on new ministry ideas and initiatives. And on top of all of that, I miss little things like grabbing impromptu lunches at Kenko Sushi with my dear friend Paul Klouse. As I adjust to the "new normal" along with everyone else, I can't help but reflect on what God might be showing me in this current season.

When life slows down, we are handed golden opportunities to begin putting things in perspective. With so many distractions stripped away as I become seemingly nestled in my small cozy apartment, the days blur together and my mind engages in thoughtful self-reflection. Since I am no longer constantly on the run, I have this new space to begin asking myself honest questions: How am I doing as a follower of Christ? How am I doing as a husband, son, brother, and friend? Sometimes my heart aches because of how deeply I love the people in my life, but right now it feels like I can't even express that affection in the ways that I want.

Throughout the past few weeks, God has revealed to me the depths of my capacity to love. Since I no longer have the excuse of being "on the go" and running through life at 100mph, I am using this season to quiet my racing heart and gently ask the Holy Spirit to open my eyes. Lord, who do you want me to love? Who do you want me to forgive? Who in my life desperately needs your grace right now? And if I'm being completely honest, these reflections sometimes expose the stains of pride, anger, and bitterness in my selfish heart.

With those realizations, however, I am reminded in brand new ways that the Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love. And because of God's overwhelming love, we have reason to be hopeful. We have fresh opportunities to repent of our past ways and choose grace over hatred. We have the chance to recalibrate our hearts and persevere through the dreary days in order to pursue deeper intimacy with the Father. Perhaps most importantly, though, we have the option to become people who are not just Spirit-filled, but also Spirit-led.

Posted by John Dere with

Balancing the Past, Present and Future

Lately, whenever I walk into the kitchen, our dog runs into the basement. Not sure what that means, but my wife Barbie says the dog is picking up on my stress levels. That’s nice. Here I think I’m managing everything pretty well and I end up stressing the dog out…

Well, it turns out the dog is probably on to something. I tend to overthink things during the best of times, so being stuck at home during a pandemic just ratchets this up to new levels. I find myself in this cycle of thinking about things that I can’t go back and change: “Why didn’t I cash out my 401K in January?”, “Why didn’t I buy more toilet paper??” to thinking about things that haven’t happened yet: “What if the coronavirus spreads thru my family?”, “What if it spreads thru the church?”, “What will “church” even look like in the fall?”. It’s so easy to become overwhelmed thinking about things we can never control.

So how do we fight back against this? We know that we can’t change what’s happened already and we won’t be able to control what tomorrow brings, so what do we do? For me, it helps to grieve the past, embrace the present, and rely on God for the future.

A couple of weeks ago (it seems like last year!) I was talking to Heather Horn, our Director of Family Ministries, about the need to cancel some upcoming events at the church. Heather said she wasn’t ready to make those decisions yet, that she needed to grieve the loss first. That was really wise, and lately, I’ve been feeling a lot of that. It’s helped to remind myself of the stages of grief: Denial (I’m pretty healthy, I won’t get the virus…”), Anger (“I can’t believe they won’t let me go outside…”), Bargaining (“If I do everything they say, then we’ll be fine…”), Sadness (“This is never going to end…”) and finally Acceptance (“This is real, we have to make it work…”). Keep in mind we rarely go through these stages in order – I find myself bouncing back and forth between them.

It’s ok to grieve that things are not going the way we planned – that your senior year is not what you expected, that the vacation you planned isn’t happening – but keep pushing yourself toward Acceptance where you’re able to deal with this “new normal”.

Embracing the present can help with this. I need to embrace the good things that are happening now instead of focusing on the past or future. For example, in our house, we’ve actually been eating dinner together every night – and looking forward to it! For most of you, this is probably something you’ve done forever, but in our house, we usually end up eating in shifts because of work, school, piano lessons, etc. The other day I actually caught myself thinking that I’ll miss these dinner times once we’re “back to normal”…

Finally, rely on God for the future. It’s easy to say that God is in control, but He is. God is sovereign, and He has seen all this unfold in eternity past. None of this has caught Him off-guard. Keep going back to Psalm 46: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…” Amen.

We are all in this together. Please know that the Chapel staff and leadership are praying for you all, and we are here to help in any way you need. Reach out to us anytime.

Posted by Ted Voltmer with