Dear Saints of God:
As this strange summer continues into late summer and fall, many people have been waiting in eager anticipation for things to get back to “normal.” There was a time when people talked a lot about what the so-called “new normal” would look like. Now, people might not even be sure if there will ever again be a “normal” because our fears, anxieties, worries, and concerns are changing so quickly. It can be exhausting. Every time I turn on the news or have a conversation with someone, it seems like there is a new thing to try to fix or resolve. It is really difficult even to know what to think anymore, and feelings bounce quickly from fear to hope to worry to frustration to so many different things. Thoughts and feelings are moving around like a boat in the middle of a storm without an anchor, drifting wherever the thoughts and feelings of that particular day and that day’s new cycle blow.
This exhaustion is nothing new in Christ’s Church. St. Paul writes that God gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors to the Church in order to lead—with God’s Word— toward the unity of faith and the knowledge of Christ Jesus “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14). (In this verse, “doctrine” doesn’t refer to teachings about Jesus, but human doctrine and thinking that is included in the thinking and understanding of the current time).
In the middle of our exhausted floating around, tossed around by every wind of thinking, cunning, craftiness, and schemes, stability is not found in being current on the latest scientific or political trends, or in mastering popular opinion or agreeing with everyone else. No, our certainty is found in Jesus.
St. Paul continues, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). It is in Jesus and in Him alone that true stability is found. Jesus is the Truth, and life with Him is stable, not being blown around or floating about in the exhausting waves that shift one direction and then another according to the calendar or the news cycle.
When you are exhausted and do not know where to turn next, turn to Jesus, and the safety of the ark of His Holy Church, where His Word of truth is proclaimed. Trust and rely on Him and the Word proclaimed in His Church. Support that preaching, so as the winds of change howl and blow all around you, you will have a place to come in safety and peace to receive the only true and life-giving Word.
How do your thoughts and your feelings line up with the news, the politicians, the celebrities, or your friends and neighbors? The good news is that lining up with them is not important. What is important is that you are growing up more and more into maturity in Christ Jesus. He sets you free from human understanding, cunning, craftiness, and schemes. Instead of those things, by His unchanging death and resurrection, by His ever-present promises, by His gracious love, He holds you fast. When you are connected to Jesus by faith, safe in the ark of His Church, you are not blown around because Jesus holds you firm, anchored in Him. So rejoice and be glad! No opinions, cunning, craftiness, or scheme can define you. Jesus defines you, and He has named you as one for whom He died and rose. You are His!
In Christ’s peace,
Pastor Steven Anderson