Rev. Steven Norris
Without a doubt, this is the question many of us are facing in light of the reopening of our economy here in Georgia. Business owners will be faced with choices about reopening. Churches will have to decide about when and how to hold in-person services again. Citizens will face choices about when to go out and where.
How do we make these decisions? Where can we turn for help? We all long for some sense of normalcy, but are we rushing ahead too quickly?
I would like to share a few questions that I am asking for myself and our church during these days that might offer some guidance for the days ahead.
1. What do I know to be true? In times of uncertainty, it is essential to clarify the things that we know to be true – our deep convictions about God, about ourselves, and about the world. This would be a great time to turn to scripture and the promises found there. Our hope is ultimately in God (Psalm 146:5). We cannot be separated from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). We can trust in God to lead us (Proverbs 3:5-6). Every single life is precious because it is created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27).
2. How am I showing love for God and love for others? If Jesus clearly said that the greatest command was to love God with everything that we have and to love our neighbor as ourself (Mark 12:29-31), it would follow that God’s will for us involves doing precisely those things. Are these decisions putting the needs of others first, or are they selfishly motivated? Are they looking out for the “least of these” and the most vulnerable among us or merely for ourselves?
3. What is my motivation? Experience tells me that humans are masters of self-deception. We often do not recognize when our motives are mixed and fail to account for our own selfishness. Fear is a powerful motivator, but it is a terrible master. Are we being driven by a desire for normalcy or a genuine care for the well-being of others?
4. Have I sought the wisdom of the elders? In times where we don’t know the clear answers to our questions, it is imperative to admit our limited understanding and listen to those more knowledgeable than ourselves. This is complicated in such a time as this with conflicting reports everywhere we turn. Personally, I turn to the healthcare professionals within our own community and listen carefully to their advice. I listen closely to those spiritual elders who can ask me questions and help me discern my own heart and motivations.
5. Have I prayed about it? I left this for the end, not because it is the least important, but because I want it to be the last thing you remember. Prayer is our greatest tool because it connects us with the Divine. Yet, we often treat prayer as a one-way conversation. If this time of uncertainty has taught me anything, it is the power of sitting, waiting, and listening with intention. The answers will come if we are patient enough and quiet enough to hear them.