When I Look to the Face of My Father
As I crossed the parking lot into the hospital on that Sunday to visit my dad, the sun warmed my skin, and peace filled my heart. Our prayers had been answered. He had received positive news from the testing and would be able to return home later that day. The hospital staff at the entrance were screening visitors regarding recent travel and symptoms of a fever or cough. I had no idea that it was a foreshadowing of all that was yet to come. Just two weeks later, hospital visitation for a loved one would be off-limits. There was no way of knowing that the world would soon be plagued by a pandemic that would spread across all corners of the globe; that fear was lying in wait, ready to tug at our hearts; that all the shelves in the stores would regularly be nearly empty.
Now, here we are. All normalcy has been suspended for the weeks ahead, and our lives have seemingly been placed on pause. Churches, school buildings and local businesses sit empty. The heavy flow of traffic on my street has slowed to the number of cars that are easily counted. All events on the calendar have been canceled as we are asked to stay home, minimizing the spread of the virus in order to stay safe.
My three-year-old daughter is oblivious to all of this. She doesn’t realize the crisis that we have been facing in the past few weeks; about the challenges we have been handed, and are expected to navigate. Her most basic needs are still being met. She is surrounded by the people who love her and make her feel safe. We go through our days that incorporate the new routines of preparing and eating meals, distance learning for her brothers, and her usual playtime and reading books. Unaffected, she looks to my face and sees the love there, and has no reason to fear.
This is my first time living through a pandemic. This is not my first experience with life taking a turn, catching me off guard, and giving me whiplash from the impact. I’ve walked through moments of darkness that seem as though all light and hope have dissipated for a time. I've wrestled with the anxiety that comes from financial instability and doubting provision; of health concerns and all the unknowns that lurk in circumstances beyond my control.
The weeks of the Season of Lent that lead up to Resurrection Sunday, are still fresh in my memory in this year of COVID-19 . Easter morning looked very different for me, and there was a bit of a lament that came with it. There was no scrambling to get ready and make it to church on time for my family. Gathering after worship services with loved ones to share a meal, including all the traditional favorites and the faces that I love, was not able to happen. There was great sadness in the absence of the celebration. Still, I found that God is ever present and promises to be with me always. God is in the midst of whatever unwanted circumstances I seem to be facing in my life. There is still an invitation I am being handed to look to the face of my Father, to not be overcome by fear, and to receive the joy that He offers.
Even though we are in middle of a pandemic, there is still an empty grave and a resurrected Savior who overcame death and fear. Hope is still very much alive. Easter Day and this season look a lot different than I had anticipated, yet my family and I are living life. So on Easter morning, worshipping from home, I still took the powder blue dress out of the closet. I had lovingly purchased it for my daughter to wear, and I smiled with contentment as I watched her look in wonder at herself in the mirror.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT:
In 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV), we are told "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." In the technology centered world in which we live, we are bombarded with a flood of information from the news and social media. What I read can often leave me feeling discouraged or filled with worry and fear about the present and future. When I find myself in these moments, I try to unplug for a time and remind myself to pray; to look again to the face of my Father to lead me back to truth. He does not give me a spirit of fear. When I am feeling overwhelmed with fear, I remind myself that this feeling is not from God and is not based in truth. It calms and centers me, and I am able to move forward.
Father, I thank you that no matter what am I facing in life, you are present with me and have promised never to leave (Hebrews 13:5 NIV). I pray that the truth found in your word will be what guides and strengthens me through this season. Cover me with your peace when my heart is feeling overwhelmed. I thank you that because you are alive, there is always a reason to hope. May I boldly accept the invitation to look to your face and receive the peace and love that you give to me. Amen.