A few years ago I attended a leadership training and we had a guest speaker that said something that stuck with me. We were trying to think about new approaches to old problems, and she used the analogy of a dance floor. She mentioned that on the dance floor, you certainly have a perspective and see what is happening in the moment around you. But if you get up to the balcony, it gives you a much larger and broader perspective to see things differently than you ever could in real time on the dance floor.
I think that is how I feel sometimes about my faith journey. It’s hard to see God at work sometimes in the moment, especially during painful or challenging times. It doesn’t quite ever feel linear and often feels like it’s 2 steps forward and 3 steps backwards.
It was 2 years ago this week that Jamie and Donna Winship shared with a group of us at Windrush about identity and how we are called to be Ministers of Reconciliation. It was shortly after that Day Away that the world went into lockdown and Covid became a dominant force in our entire lives. Thinking back to and reading my journal from that day, I don’t feel that different. But upon zooming out, reading the pages and pages since then, I am reminded of the ways God continued to show up, even when it didn’t feel like it. I do see cool and amazing ways that God is working in my life and in those in my community.
When I think about the themes of the entire Old Testament, I am reminded that it’s a very long story of character after character of God’s chosen people living not exactly as they “ought to.” And yes there were consequences and pain and wandering in deserts and living as slaves. But the story hinges upon God’s abundant faithfulness, unlimited patience, consistent love and redemption continued for his children. Regardless of what they did or how off course they went, God’s love and forgiveness was always central to the story (and personified in Jesus). Why do we expect any different for us?
That’s a pretty amazing reminder for us all as we step back into a world after Covid. We are all changed in unique ways. Maybe the past couple of years have been defined by pain or grief, and it’s felt like a season of wandering in the desert. Perhaps you are encouraged by how God has continued to show up in fresh new ways over the past few years. Maybe you are feeling guilty or frustrated that your life hasn’t progressed enough or that it doesn’t look like how a younger version of yourself would have planned it out.
Regardless, I think God has a message for each of us, and the message is quite simple. It’s to tune into His voice and just keep going. Don’t worry about the past. Don’t be so concerned about what “ought to” have been or done. It’s worthless to dwell on past mistakes. Sure we can learn and grow from them, and God will use them, but he reminds us that we aren’t defined by those mistakes. God is good and he’s still active and working in us and through us with all our flaws to reach a broken world. He still has that same abundant and unconditional love for us. He still looks at us with a smile, with the pride that comes from a Good Father, not because of anything you have or haven’t done. He is still the Good Shepherd who goes out searching for the one lost sheep, and celebrating when HE finds it. Stay in tune with that gentle voice—the one who reminds us who we truly are--even if it’s enough just to get through today. And I bet that in the future, when we have a chance to zoom out, we will be able to see his fingerprints and more of his impact on each of our lives than we ever realized in the moment.