May 13, 2020 Ashley Steelman

All Over But the Shoutin'

All Over But the Shoutin'

We all like to be protected against bad things. When it is cold outside, we put on layers of warm clothes and a ‘boggin. Summer comes and we slather on sunblock, put on sunglasses, and cover ourselves in bug spray. Our cars have all sorts of gadgetry to protect us from the dangers of driving. The computer I am typing on has firewalls and virus protection. The lengths we go to are endless. 


Now, due to a microscopic little bugger called Covid-19, everyone is required to wear PPE at work or when going out in public. I have to don a face mask and drown myself in hand sanitizer to go pick up a gallon of milk. 


The new normal is getting old. When will it end? Pastor’s message this week was called “Shout” but right now, it feels like it’s all over but the shoutin!


I’m having a hard time settling into the new normal. The new normal seems unsettling. And TBH, stress does not bring out the best in me. Flattening the curve is warping my brain! For me, the arc on this quarantine is too long, and it bends toward bad habits and a bad attitude. 


Please don’t misunderstand. I genuinely love people. I want everyone safe and healthy. But the MINUTE the governor told me I MUST wear a mask in public, every particle of my being went into full-blown rebellion (if you have read my blog before, you know I struggle with submitting to authority.) 


I have the fabric to make a mask. I have made masks for other people, but to be told I MUST wear them!? I’m ready to lay down in the street in protest! 


I don’t though. Instead, I just refuse to wear the mask, stomp my foot and cross my arms like a petulant child, and send my husband to the grocery in my stead since I can’t enter without the darn thing. 


I get it. It is scary. There are lots of things we don’t know and the facts all seem to be muddied and manipulated by those in charge. In the early days of the outbreak, President Trump called it “an invisible enemy.” 


We do have an invisible enemy, but it ain’t just the ‘Rona. This enemy is way beyond what can be seen under a microscope. 


For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

Ya’ll know as well as I do, we definitely have an unseen enemy who means to destroy us. There is no doubt about it. But I think the enemy I have to battle most in this situation is ME- my fears, my emotions, my bad attitude. That feels like the bigger battle and a more fearsome enemy right now. 


The mandate to wear a mask has unmasked the truth about some things I need to deal with. Thank goodness God is still God. Side note- God is too good to me.


I woke up this morning as I have for so many mornings lately, all grubby and grumbly. I didn’t want to write a blog that was encouraging. I’m mad and frustrated. I really just wanted to waller around in my fantastic mope until my fingers were all pruny with it. But I knew I had to put something down. So I half-heartedly start searching for scriptures on shouting about God’s goodness and look what happens- I find God’s goodness. It’s enough to make me laugh and cry all at the same time. 


Lookout “unseen enemy”! Step aside fluctuating emotions and bad attitude. Ephesians 6 gives me a spiritual Hazmat suit! 


Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.… Ephesians 6:13-18 msg

 

And if I back it up a little further, I realize before I put on this spiritual super-suit I have to first take off some things. Ephesians 4:30-32 tells me to


30 And don’t make the Holy Spirit sad. God gave you his Spirit as proof that you belong to him and that he will keep you safe until the day he makes you free. 31 Never be bitter, angry, or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. 32 Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you through Christ.


 “Never be bitter, angry, or mad…”.  


If I make my mind up now that I won’t feed into my bad attitude, if I don’t get tangled up in bitterness and anger through this mess while adjusting to a new normal I don’t really want, then I will be ahead of the game when things around me just keep changing. (Sorry, I am totally using this blog to preach to myself!)


Then there is Colossians 3:12-14 


“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”


It’s hard for me to quietly go along with some of the things happening around us. My attitude needs adjusting more than I like to admit. But whatever happens in this world, we are assured that God intends to use it for good – including this stinkin’ virus. I’ve just got to remember to suit up and fight the good fight of faith cause it really is all over but the shoutin’.