O Lord, throughout These Forty Days

In the story of Noah and the Flood, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights.

Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mt. Sinai prior to receiving the Ten Commandments.

The twelve spies scouted out the land of Canaan for 40 days.

Goliath taunted the Israelites for 40 days before David stepped forward to face him.

Ezekiel laid on his right side for 40 days to symbolize the 40 years that Judah would be under siege.

Jonah warned the Ninevites that the city would be overthrown in 40 days if they refused to repent.

Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days.

And given that today is day 41, I've made it through 40 days of sheltering in place.

I noticed the sign below on a recent walk. It reads: #We'llgetthroughthisvirustogether #Stayhome." We will be through Thursday for sure. I'm cautiously optimistic that the curve is flattening and restrictions will begin to loosen, but the DR's state of emergency was extended through May 25, so I'm prepared for a few more weeks of the status quo.

The first virtual FORO I was involved in happened Saturday! Helping transition these biannual partnership meetings to Zoom is one of my two primary "reassignments." While I zeroed in on a few things to be cognizant of going forward, I'm thrilled with the level of participation we achieved and anticipating some positive, offline follow-up conversations over the next few weeks. 

Then Sunday, my home congregation kicked off a Zoom Bible study; there were 40+ devices connected. I'm overjoyed that this challenging time means unprecedented fellowship with the community of believers that has watched me grow and grow in the faith since childhood. 

Speaking of Bible study, tonight is the second session of "Enough," which also originates from my home congregation. I thought last Monday's opening session was exceedingly well done, and the content has stuck with me all week. I've been extra cognizant of negative labels I explicitly or implicitly slap on myself:
  • "I've done nothing with my day today." = "Erin, you're lazy."
  • "I should have ______________." = "Erin, you're forgetful and inconsiderate."
The book used the analogy of a distorted mirror that Satan is constantly polishing to a brilliant sheen that compels us to look into it. The Gospel takeaway, though, was a dozen or more Bible verses that speak to our innate worth as beloved children of God!

Tomorrow will also be my first time leading an ice-breaker trivia activity for a weekly pre-teen and teen girls' Bible study and Friday, facilitating my Play Group's study of Casting Stones.

In between is the first meeting of a brainstorming work group I was asked to be a part of (apparently I have experience and expertise?!). This season has required much creative thinking, and I think maybe I'm a verbal processor. I love throwing ideas out and then engaging with others to refine those ideas into something viable and actionable...or not. All of that is to say...I'm excited!

My second primary "reassignment" is also entering well-oiled-machine territory. It's a writing intensive content creation campaign that will vastly improve how we as a region share God's work among us with our constituents. I'm growing into my vocation as a writer and passionate about telling stories with a "pen," so I'm more than OK with this.

Maybe that's why, when fellow missionary Courtney mentioned that a number of universities were offering free online courses, I signed up for a self-paced, 4-week long one called "Writing for Social Media."  I've told myself I'm not going to feel bad if I lack the motivation to complete assignments I'm not being graded on, but I will be open minded since it certainly has the potential to make me stronger at something I do often. You be the judge as to whether my Facebook posts vastly improve around...oh...May 24 or thereabouts.

No wonder puzzle #3 is still sitting on my kitchen table, unopened! And while it's been fun, you won't hear me complaining that April's Bible lettering challenge is almost up. We're going out with a bang on the last verse: everyone in the "Lettering with Lizz" WhatsApp group took one word, which we'll compile into a photomosaic. Mine was "this." Any guesses as to what the verse is? No cheating!

Although Lent is in the rear-view mirror now, the hymn "O Lord, throughout These Forty Days" (LSB 418) comes to mind. The last verse goes

Be with us through this season, Lord /
And all our earthly days, / 
That when the final Easter dawns, /
We join in heaven's praise.

That's a prayer we can echo through this "season" of sheltering in place as we anticipate the simple joys of going for a walk without a mask or having friends over for dinner as well as the Easter-like pomp and circumstance that will certainly adorn the return of corporate worship. What's more, it's a refrain for the "season" of our earthly pilgrimage as we await the unimaginable bliss of spending eternity face-to-face with Jesus!

Until next time, blessings!