A storm blew through our area a few days ago bringing wind, lightning, and heavy rain. At one point in the evening, I thought I heard something fall outside near our front door. I peered through the window but couldn’t see anything out of place. The next morning, when my husband stepped out the door to go for a walk, he found our carved stone welcome sign on the ground in multiple pieces.
I don’t remember when I bought that sign, but it has made three moves with us and hung beside the front door at four different houses. It has welcomed family, friends, neighbors, delivery men and women, and even a few door-to-door salesmen. I always think it’s nice to have a welcome sign near the door, and the sandstone material and carved Kokopelli of this one remind me of my southwestern heritage.
Now, it’s in the trash can.
It seemed like an ominous sign during these days of “social distancing.” It’s not a good idea right now to have friends and family over for a visit. Delivery drivers drop off their goods and move away from the door as quickly as possible. We wave hello to neighbors when we drive or walk by, but we keep our distance and don’t stop to talk. It’s not a very welcoming environment—at least not in the traditional ways.
I’m trying to find other ways to welcome people into my life. I’m calling family members more frequently. I’m checking in with friends by email or on Facebook. I can share words of hope and faith through my blog and on Instagram. I can continue to support my church and other good causes through donations. I can offer assistance to neighbors who need someone to run an errand.
Being a welcoming person doesn’t require a stream of people coming through my front door. It just requires an open heart.
The broken welcome sign made me think of another important point. There are some things I don’t want to welcome into my house now or ever. Panic is not welcome here. Unkind and unhelpful words are not welcome here. Greed and hoarding are not welcome here. Doubt of God’s love and mercy are not welcome here. These things creep in every once in a while when I let my guard down. I can entertain them like welcome guests or I can show them the door. I need to stay vigilant and be un-welcoming to these unhelpful thoughts and attitudes.
That may be harder than ever right now, but I also need to remember that this health crisis is temporary—no matter how many weeks or months it lasts. It cannot deprive us of the permanent promises of God to his people: “You will receive a rich WELCOME into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11).
What about you? What are doing to be a welcoming person in this time of closed doors?
In my Bible Study on the Armor of God, I have a chapter on peace. With all that is going on in our world right now, I thought peace would be a good thing to talk about today.
Many people think of peace as the absence of conflict and fear. We feel an emotional sense of peace when all is well with us. But true peace – biblical peace – is so much more than an emotional feeling. It is a state of mind, an attitude of readiness and calm in the midst of any circumstances. When Paul told us to strap on shoes “fitted with … the gospel of peace” as part of our spiritual armor, he was preparing us for battle (Ephesians 6:15). To be truly effective in battle, we need our hearts and minds to be at peace.
I’ve heard it said that courage is not the absence of fear; it’s doing what’s right in spite of our fear. We could also say that peace is not the absence of fear. It’s finding an inner calm while facing our fear.
Most people I know try to fight fear by being strong and acting as if there is nothing to fear. They push fear away and refuse to feel it, or they stuff it down inside and refuse to deal with it. I’m going to recommend something quite drastic instead. Let’s look for the good side of fear.
To begin, we have to admit that our fears are valid. There is good reason to be afraid right now – afraid for our health and the health of our loved ones, afraid for our jobs and income, afraid for our economy. Every decision we make will have unknown ramifications. Do we stay in and further damage the economy or risk losing our jobs or businesses? Do we go out and risk being infected or spreading an infection we didn’t know we had? Each of us has our own unique situation and our risk factors, so our level of fear may be higher or lower than others around us. But we all have something to fear if we’re honest about it.
Next, we should realize that fear can motivate us in good ways as well as bad ways. If we choose to focus on the good, fear can actually help us. Pain is something none of us want in our lives, but we would be in big trouble if we couldn’t feel pain. When you put your hand down on a hot oven range, it’s pain that motivates you to move your hand away quickly, minimizing the damage. Fear can also help us minimize damage by keeping us from doing things that can harm us physically or emotionally. Being afraid of a rattlesnake is a good thing. Being paralyzed by that fear is not.
So how do we find peace and maintain an inner calm in spite of real things to fear? Here are my thoughts:
1. Be informed. Learn what you can about the current medical crisis, looking to trustworthy sources for your information.
2. Be careful. When possible, take the advice of medical professionals and keep your risk of infection low.
3. Be compassionate. I hope you can say like I do, “There are a lot of people worse off than me because of this situation.” Your next thought should be, “Is there anything I can do to help someone today?” –even if that just means staying inside to keep the virus from spreading.
4. Keep praying. Pray especially for those who are facing this crisis without God, without the assurance of their eternal salvation and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
5. Focus on what God has done for you. Take time during this crisis to renew and deepen your trust in the God who is greater than any fearful circumstance and who has promised to never leave you or forsake you.
6. Let your peace be a light for others. If you’re going out, keep smiling, be kind to others, and serve others to the best of your ability. If you’re staying in, be a positive influence on social media and with anyone you talk to.
7. Be willing to face risk for others. I could say a lot about this point, but each of us will have to figure this one out for ourselves.
We can find peace in the face of our fears—not by denying the fear but by trusting in the God who is greater than our fears.
What is my mission as an author? The goal dearest to my heart is to help Christians think about what they really believe and then to act as if they believe it. It all begins with understanding what it means to be a Christian. Then we have to learn to live like a Christian.