When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing.” Psalm 126:1-2a
I woke up and realized it wasn’t a dream. I remember last year the rumor was confirmed. Our school system was shutting down for two weeks as a preventive measure against COVID -19. Our church leadership met and decided to show support for the community we would also dismiss services for the next two weeks. Little did we know that eventually we would be shut down for ten weeks. Those ten weeks seemed like eternity and included Easter and Mother’s Day. It seemed we were locked down and locked up…and it would never end.
Soon, mandated by the state government, nonessential stores were ordered to close. Restaurants were ordered to close. Soon shelves in grocery stores were bare of some items and a roll of toilet paper was like gold. In the early days, our area was virtually unscathed by the virus but the reality of a new normal was very real. Schools were closed for a long period and something called “on-line learning” became an everyday, everywhere, deal. It seemed we were forced and destined for not only a new normalcy but a very different one.
Soon masks were the big topic…and divider. Whether they should be required or not divided families, friends, neighbors, and churches. At first it was something that was mandated, but not really enforced however soon it was. While stores used to have signs that said, “No shoes and shirt…no service” it became, “No mask, no entry.” Something that was very foreign (no pun intended) to us because an everyday topic. Many were confused, angry, and discouraged. Would this thing ever end? Would things ever be the way they were? A few nodded yes, but most shook their head no. Like a sour love story, we might learn to comply, but we would never love it.
This spring, a year after it started, things began to change…a new wind was blowing and it was bringing hope. States began easing or removing restrictions, the virus began retreating and the promise of life without “Thou Must or Thou Can’t” advanced…flooding in like desert rain on the drylands. And then last Friday, June 11, in one of the most restrictive states in the nation, freedom day came. Last Friday, Illinois finally became an open state—and it was like a dream come true. On a much smaller scale, it was like the children of Israel finally leaving Egypt. They were free and yes, we are free.
Like the children of Israel, we too will now face some choices. Are we going to hold onto the fear of last year or let it go? Are we going to let what divided us still do so? Are we going to hold onto grudges and remain a divided people? The choice is ours. We can let the past lay in the past, learning what we need to learn, or we can run forward embracing what lies ahead. I hope we will run forward. I hope we will remember and understand that God was faithful, is faithful and will be faithful, no matter what next week or next year holds. The future is in His hands…and that is a good thing.
So, last Friday, I told my wife Judy that it was Freedom Day…a reason and a cause to celebrate. I will not seek division, I will not be a part of the past, I am running forward, and I hope you will join me. The book of Psalms, found in the Jewish and Christian scriptures says, “When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. They said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad.
We.Are.Glad. Be sure today and do three things. First, if you are a Jesus follower…be sure and thank Him for guiding us and bringing us out of this past year or so. Second, celebrate what He has done. Throw a party of sorts. We’ve waited for it…now celebrate it. Third, remember. Remember those who suffered and lost during the COVID time. For many, those sixteen months or more, are very painful…share and feel their pain and remember that in some parts of the world, bondage continues. And while you are remembering, remember this. In March of 2020 I wrote the first blog for Grits and I closed it with the words, “He’s got this.” Well, He did, He does, and He will. Bro. Dewayne