The unexpected joy of working through a pandemic

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

1 John 13:8

The one thing I did not expect to find in the pandemic was a deeper purpose in my day job. I am an account manager for an online conferencing company, and I am faced every single day with dozens of calls and emails from our customers who are reaching out for help navigating our changed world.

Many callers are owners of small businesses and worried about the future. They are on edge and deeply anxious about how they will get through the next year. With the stay-at-home order my job which was seemingly unimportant before the spread of COVID-19 was suddenly elevated to highly in-demand position. My focus is working with customers to help them find the best solution that will allow their businesses to succeed. It’s difficult and rewarding. While I would not have described it that way four months ago, these trying times have helped to shift my perspective from the immediate daily things to the eternal things.

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 4:2

These circumstances have revealed what I did not see before as valued. I have a unique opportunity and responsibility to answer customer calls as a representative of Jesus. Dealing in integrity and love, listening patiently to them when they are upset, and yes even when they are awful and rude. It is simply the challenge that He has put before me and planted me in for this season.

I am coming to understand the real reality of what Jesus was talking about when he told us to love our neighbors. Not when it’s convenient, but in all circumstances. Love one another in good times and bad.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:34-35

I don’t intend to over-spiritualize my job, but it was just such an unexpected but welcome thought, that I have been given this daily, built-in opportunity to serve others as a representative of Jesus, and it’s renewed every single morning. It’s because of this I have joy and peace amid the madness. 

So, I want to encourage and challenge you, friend, if you’re feeling like what you do doesn’t matter, if you’re being obedient to Jesus’s command then you are doing the biggest thing you could ever do. We don’t have to run large charitable organizations in order to make a difference. You and I, and everyone else, have all been given a particular sphere of influence – a mission field – in which to carry out the Word of God. Like the apostle Paul said: “but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13).

Not just getting through the day

Let’s check our pulse as we enter into Christmas week. How are you feeling? Peaceful and still, or burnt out and frazzled with the whirlwind of plans and obligations? (It’s okay to say you are not struggling, we are all just jealous!)

I feel like no matter how hard I try to focus on the coming of Jesus and “the reason for the season” I miss the mark. I start out strong with my SheReadsTruth Advent study in the morning before work (click here to read along!) but then by the time I am 15 minutes into my work day, all the familiar stresses overwhelm me and push the peace I had aside. Instead I become full of the normal cares of life and I wander away from the perfect peace I experienced before.

How do we keep that perfect peace of God’s love for us throughout the day?

In Luke chapter 15 Jesus tells a parable about a lost sheep. A shepherd had a hundred sheep but one of them had wandered off and gotten lost. The shepherd left the ninety-nine in open country while he left to search out the lost one. And when he found it, he brought it back on his shoulders rejoicing. 

My first reaction to this story was how irresponsible it was to leave the other 99 unattended. I’m sitting here thinking about all the dangers and risks of doing that. As that shepherd I’d be racked with guilt and dilemma. I love the one sheep, but what about all the others? How could I leave them all in the open country without any other protection? Wouldn’t I rather lose one than save one and lose 99?

Thankfully for us, God doesn’t think this way. He’s not hung up on the burdens and cares. Not that they aren’t important, but that his love is bigger than the cares. His love for us is so huge that to lay aside his heavenly crown and trade it for humanity is no big thing.

This is the mystery we try to unravel each Advent season. Putting together the pieces of prophecy and promise in scripture in light of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Christmas sets his plan of love in motion.

Be convinced of God’s love

I have made an effort to stop saying “get through the day”. I don’t want to just get through the day; it’s not the attitude I want to have. While we can’t have the mountaintop experience of faith every day, we still can remain in God’s love every day. All it takes is a simple prayer in the morning.

Don’t be discouraged if this is difficult. He sees your heart. He sees you trying. It is, after all, a work of the Spirit and unable to be manufactured by human hands. Pray and ask that the Lord would send you reminders throughout the day to strengthen you.

And then don’t sit around worrying; go, and do what you need to do. After Jesus would heal someone, he wouldn’t say to them, “Now go sit and think about what you’ve done some more and keep feeling bad about it.” No! He told them to “Go, and sin no more.”

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, netiher height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

All of these things are passing away as the earth is passing away. In its place we know will be a new heaven and earth, a perfect situation that won’t change. And in the meantime, though, the circumstances do not determine God’s unfailing love for us.  His love for us falls outside the power of anything or anyone else.

And here I am now – my day isn’t perfect, but again it is. And I don’t even have to wait for eternity to take advantage of it. The joy of salvation is hope. And hope is what I have this very minute.  

Music to move our spirits

When I’m spiritually dry and worn out, I turn to worship music. Even though I am all about Bible study and journaling, sometimes I just can’t get unstuck. In these times I find that a little humility (I can’t manufacture the desire to praise you God, you have to do this for me!) plus a little variety is the key to get back on track again.

I wanted to share six of my favorite worship songs with you this week. Each one is incredibly special and has moved me to praise and prayer (and tears) at different points of my journey with Jesus. I pray that these songs might inspire you to praise and prayer too, as the Spirit leads.