God’s Speed Brakes

Leaders, we are experiencing something quite significant. The COVID-19, or Coronavirus, has impacted the way we approach ministry, social interaction, and worship. People are gathered in their homes on Sunday to watch either a live stream or a recorded video of worship. Others are spread across the world experiencing different versions of quarantine and social distancing. I will venture to say this event will change us forever. Mark it in your calendars, COVID-19 has started a new era of ministry.

Some of you are experiencing this event as full-time ministers while others are part-time, bi-vocational, and some are volunteers. Each of those roles are uniquely impacted by the pandemic. We could easily continue to view this event negatively or we could look at how God is working behind the scenes. As a volunteer, I work with students and young adults; however, my primary job is working for the Alabama Air National Guard as an In-flight Refueler. As an in-flight refueler, I get to fly in airplanes and travel around the world. As I write this post, I am currently deployed to the Middle East.

As I arrived to my deployed location, we were put into a 14-day quarantine. At the time of this writing, I have two days left of my quarantine. We are quarantined to a camp with a fence around it and a single entrance. We practice social distancing, wear masks around others, and have takeout food. In many ways, we have been isolated from everyone else. Many of you are experiencing something similar. We are all forced to use the internet to communicate, disciple, lead, and socialize.

During my time here I began to think of the possibility of God’s plan in it all. Prior to the pandemic, think about the challenges we faced as leaders, teachers, and ministers. Think about when you asked for volunteers, folks to read the Word, or for parents to disciple their children. You can substitute any of those for your particular ministry focus or vision. What was the primary excuse people used?

I believe most of you have heard people respond with “I am just too busy.” Maybe they did not say that verbatim but they said other things. The truth is, we have heard all kinds of things keeping folks from growing closer to the Lord. For many of our people, life is too busy…was too busy. What about you? What have you been more focused on rather than doing the perfect will of God? Has it been church conflict? Worship service style? Trying to be more relevant?

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” Romans 12:2, ESV.

In the flying, when we are descending too fast, we pull the speed brakes. Speed brakes are control surfaces that help slow the aircraft to the desired airspeed. In other instances, we have found things overwhelming us in the aircraft and need to take a tactical pause, or time-out. This allows for us to get to a safe spot and catch on the things that matter. My point? What if all of the things associated with the pandemic allow for us to take a tactical pause? What if God pulled the speed brakes?

God has pulled the speed brakes on all the things causing people to be too busy. He has slowed us down and given us time to refocus on Him. How are people using this time? We are seeing people pray more. We have more people in attendance virtually then we’ve seen physically in years. People are hungry for God’s Word and yearn for the fellowship that comes with gathering for worship. Parents are leading their children in worship and studying of God’s Word. Small groups are meeting on various video conferencing tools. God has taken the busyness out of our lives and opened a more direct and intimate relationship with Him. He has given us an opportunity grow and rely on Him.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11, ESV