You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT
Strange times in Kentucky. We are now two months into our life being turned upside down. Liquor stores are open, but churches have been closed. Hospitals were told to cancel, or delay elective procedures, and abortion clinics are considered essential services. Workers are told to go home, and some receive more money than when they were working. Yet the reason they are sent home is because they are not “essential?” Strange times indeed.
But these strange times did not arrive suddenly like a meteor hitting our hometown. For most of my life the Bluegrass State has been somewhat sheltered from things like pandemics and space invasions. We have watched the slow erosion of values for the last fifty years sweep across the country and believed we could remain silent and claim to be God’s chosen people. We have been social distancing ourselves since the invention of the cell phone and social media. The new is we have state mandated “physical distancing” further separating us from one another. Yes, COVID 19 is a bad thing, and very dangerous for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. But let’s face it, life has always been more like a walk in a minefield than a walk in the park!
As we approach this unfamiliar territory of pandemic proportions, some everyday heroes have risen to the occasion. Take for instance my dear friend Betty, she has been about the business of making masks for others. She is like many in our community working behind the scenes, sharing her love for others. She offered to make masks for our family, and we donated some gently used clothing for the process. I asked her if she could create a mask with my Shaped by Faith logo on it. Not only did she fill my request, she created a Farm Bureau mask for my husband! It almost made wearing a mask tolerable. I did say almost.
My husband has mixed feelings about masks. He is a western guy and outside of medical reasons, he believes masks should be reserved for bank, train, and stagecoach robberies, and mowing the yard. He has been wearing an N95 mask when mowing for the last few years and has been wearing the same to shop for groceries. He says people look at him like he has taken a nurse’s personal protective equipment, even though the mask is a couple of years old. Yes, perception has a powerful effect on people’s reactions.
As I looked in the mirror at my Shaped by Faith mask, I pondered what others may see when they look behind my mask. Do they see someone who is caring and compassionate, or self-righteous and judgmental? Do I go the extra mile or take the shortcut? When I became a Christian was there a profound change that showed in my life?
How about you? What is the name on your mask? Is it your work, your favorite team, or some culturally woke statement? Here’s the thing, God knows the secrets behind the masks. Unlike the world, who guesses, or projects, He actually knows our hearts.
What if our masks actually expressed our behaviors to the world? One may say, LOVING PERSON, or another, CUSSES LIKE 2 SAILORS. Here’s one, I SMILE FOR ANIMALS, or EAT SPAGETTI WITH MY HANDS. How about, IN TROUBLE AGAIN, or BORN AGAIN?
Goodness gracious we have allowed Satan’s current to take us far away from shore. We have minimized sin and invited it into our homes. Movies with some nudity and cursing have become acceptable. “Well, it didn’t have much, and the story and acting were very strong.” We no longer flinch when they hurl one expletive after another. We disrespect our leaders when we should be praying for them. Our children are watching and hearing!
And if we say nothing, we are saying everything.
We must realize God will not bless our sin, nor hear our prayers of pleading, if we continue living upside down. It is a cry in the wilderness, “Repent!”
While this has been a strange time, I am relishing this home time praying, and seeking God for wisdom and direction. God is the Great Physician healing me from my own anxious thoughts and concerns. He is reminding me to lean into Him, discount my own understanding, and live with confidence that He is in control.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24.
All of my secrets and sins have been wiped clean. I have been washed by the blood of Jesus and my declaration reads FORGIVEN! You can be too!