Five letters. One word…masks!

Gonna keep it real with you. I probably shouldn’t give my opinion on this since it’s kind of a loaded political like topic, but…I loathe masks.

I can’t breathe well in them, my cheeks muffin top right over the edges, and they are uncomfortable. Do I wear them? Yes, I wear them in stores. Do I wear them when with friends? No, not always. I’m guilty of perhaps being a bit too relaxed at times.

When I pictured church coming back, I didn’t envision a sea of masks. Sure, I pictured some people would be wearing them, but I guessed it would be a recommendation vs a requirement.

So the honest side of me is gonna confess that when it was announced that we were going to need to wear masks to come back to church (required vs recommended), I was surprised and annoyed.

My flesh went into overdrive and all of my immature nature surfaced reminding me of when I was a teenager indignant at somebody else trying to tell me what to do, or infringe on “my rights.” I had a hard time reconciling why we couldn’t socially distance in the great outdoors and be respectful that way vs all masking up. Not my finest moment, but if we were to replay that meeting, my inner rebellious angst definitely trumped a humble spiritual spirit. I sat in all of those feelings for most of the day, frustrated.

As I sobered up (spiritually) and really wrestled with the root of why I was so annoyed, God began to work on my heart. He showed me a few things over the next couple of days.

One, I’m spoiled. My “sacrifices” for Christ have been minimal. We live pretty comfortable lives where we have not had to sacrifice freedoms very often before covid rolled in.

Two, there are fellow members of the body who have genuine fear and compromised health. Fear is a horrible burden to carry and if my wearing a mask for 55 minutes can help ease that burden, that is an easy way to love someone. The weight of a 1 ounce paper over my mouth vs a 100 pound emotional gorilla on my back shouldn’t even cause me to take pause.

Three, sometimes we love God by giving money. Sometimes we love God by worshipping and through song. Sometimes we love God by waiting well. Other times we love God by looking to the interests of others rather than our own.

We had a few volunteer events this week for VBS that included a large population of our youth. I had struggled during the week about making people mask up for the drive thru experience since the kids were in their cars and we were spaced out in the great outdoors. Ultimately, though, I felt convicted that we should support church leadership and start leading by example for what’s to come next weekend. We emailed the team and asked them to mask up for the event. Call me Doubting Thomas, but I came prepared to have to be the mask police.

I was moved to tears literally (I know…surprise surprise) when 30+ beautiful faces circled up in masks.

I KNOW that was a choice. Nobody loves to wear masks lol, especially teenagers. They CHOSE to love God and others. The unity and solidarity was breathtaking. With each mask that was worn, it felt like an outward symbol of “love God, love others.” Everybody forwent their own comfort for the sake of the larger body. God used that team of volunteers and their commitment to Christ to minister to my heart in profound ways.

Why do I share this story and probably too much rhetoric about masks?

I share because God’s been moving in my heart, asking me to drop my nets (my preferences, my rights, my ways) and follow Him.

Perhaps some of you are where I was, drowning in the flesh, and feeling annoyed about the circumstances with which we need to come back. Honesty is good. God doesn’t want us to put on a fake smile and polite nod. He welcomes all of us as is. And when we come to Him with all of our rough edges, and spend time with Him, even if it is to whine and complain, I believe just being in His presence does something for our hearts. His grace and compassion for us doesn’t let us be near Him and remain Bitter Betty for long before the Holy Spirit starts churning up our uglies and prompts us to examine our hearts. He is so faithful to lead us to still waters and shower us with forgiveness and mercy.

Praying for unity and a deep love for each other as we prepare our hearts for this weekend.

God is on the move (and likely wearing a mask lol).

Jessica Lee
Children’s Pastor

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