When the Smoke Clears 

Ever try navigating through thick smoke or fog, especially at night?  It can be frustrating, even dangerous, because you can’t see what lies ahead.  You move along slowly, cautiously, waiting for the smoke to clear. That’s what life in 2020 has felt like for many. Between the pandemic and the lockdowns and the uncertainty which continues, and a year of polarizing politics and social unrest, and any personal challenges you may have faced, it’s hard to see what lies ahead.

I’m writing this about noon on Tuesday – Election Day – where the results that will impact our lives for years to come may not be known by the end of today or even the end of this week; or then again, they may.  It’s like trying to see ahead through the fog.  And even if they are known soon, then what? What if your candidate didn’t win?  Is that the end of the world?  The range of reactions are predicted to run from disappointment to depression to rage to violence.  Businesses are boarding up their windows and the National Guard is being called up in places to keep the peace.  People even threaten to leave the country, then to where?

There is no perfect place.  In fact, this world is not our home.  Hebrews 13:14 says: “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”  Philippians 3:20 says “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ”.  That doesn’t mean that we don’t vote, or pray for our country and its leaders, or seek to be good citizens while we are here, or work to make our communities a better place.  But sometimes people get too caught up in trying to make this world into their idea of a utopia and then being profoundly dejected when that doesn’t come to pass, instead of accepting the realities of an imperfect world and putting their hope in the perfect world to come.  If Heaven is not your home, then this world is all you’ve got.

Hebrews 11 talks about the heroes and heroines of the faith, saying: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth… Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”  Hebrews 11:13,16.

We need to be tough like them.  We can’t see everything ahead, “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 (RSV). But when the smoke clears:

God will still be on His throne. His Word will still be true.  Forgiveness and salvation will still be available to all who trust in Christ. God’s wisdom will be clear as to why He did or did not do certain things.  Our Heavenly home will be perfect.  In the meantime, we still have work to do: there are still souls to be saved, people to be helped, and acts of service to be given.  So let’s press on through the fog!

Speaking of clearing, the forecast right now for this weekend is cool, windy, and possibly rainy.  Of course, that may change by then, but we will be prepared to worship outdoors or indoors, so you be prepared, too, by watching the weather, dressing warmly, bringing a mask, and having a ready heart for whatever happens. It’s still Homecoming, and we’ve got special plans to celebrate our church’s 59th anniversary with a talented guest worship leader and a highly recommended guest preacher who will be proclaiming “Our Victory in Jesus” from 1 John 5:1-5.  So do plan to come, invite someone to join you, bring your own chairs if you can, and come ready for an exciting celebration.  Because when the smoke clears, God is still God and His blessings are worth celebrating!

Mike Openshaw, Senior Minister