COVID 19 has left me feeling lonely as a pastor.
I’m lonely not being able to see our congregation. Not being able to see faces, pick up body language, listen to stories. Not being able to share the triumphs and tragedies, the ups and downs of life. In person.
I’m lonely not being able to enter someone’s world in those meaningful moments of exchange on campus.
I’m lonely without the collective energy of a people gathered for purpose.
I’m lonely preaching to the camera instead of actual people!
I CONSTANTLY wonder how people are doing. A thousand faces and names and stories float in and out of my mind. And I wonder how that person really is. I can’t stop wondering (and worrying) about how people are doing.
I’m on Zoom and Whattsapp and phone calls all day, it seems. I read pastoral reports and listen to the beautiful (and sometimes heartbreaking) stories that our staff and leaders share constantly.
And yet I still feel like a lonely pastor. I miss our people gathered. I think that’s it, really. In a nutshell.
I miss our people gathered.
And yet, in this season, so many gifts. So many lessons. And so many adjustments.
I’m learning to pray for things I used to try to control.
I can’t find people jobs. Or prevent them from getting sick. I can’t stop them getting anxious or going back to an addiction. I cant parent their kids or stop a loved one from passing away. I can’t even visit them in hospital without ten body searches and special permission!
But I think the thing that worries me the most is that I can’t develop someone’s friendship with God for them. I have to surrender that every day.
Everyone has to nurture their own friendship with God. I cant do it for anyone else. I want to. Desperately. Perhaps I thought I could. But I really can’t.
Each one of us have to honestly, authentically and intentionally develop our own life-giving friendship with God.
I can’t worship for them. I can’t read scripture for them. I can’t draw close to God for them. I can’t make them get online for services or life group or college.
This season has presented the stark reality of the limitation of activity. I cant do more for people.
And so, I pray. It’s the most important thing I can do. And in many ways it’s all I can do.
I am praying that each one of us would find our own life-giving friendship with God.
I’m praying that this season would make us all realise that our friendship with Jesus is what matters most. That it really is the source of our lives. Everything else, while important, is peripheral.
I’m praying that we would find friendship with Jesus in deeper and more meaningful ways.
I’m praying that we would draw close to Him. Through prayer, scripture and worship.
I’m praying that we would fall in love with Jesus all over again.
I’m praying that we would drop our pretenses. That we would bring our lives – our messy, beautiful lives – to Him. That we would talk to Him about everything. Invite Him into every space. Even the dark ones.
I’m praying that He would shape us. Form us. Make us more like Him.
I’m praying that each one of us would experience His presence. Personally and powerfully.
In all honesty, I’m praying that many of us would not forget God.
I think about that and worry about that so much. I feel so concerned that for some of us, church was a substitute for a friendship with God. And now, because there is no church, there is no meaningful friendship with Jesus.
Church is not friendship with Jesus. The church is who we are because of our friendship with Jesus.
I’m praying that we emerge out of this strange season with a deeper faither and a greater assurance of God’s faithfulness. That the worries, pressures, anxiety, depression, and struggles don’t crowd out our ability to see the activity of God in our lives.
I’m praying that people don’t withdraw. Become lonely, isolated, self absorbed, selfish. Instead, I’m praying that we realise how important community is. Both online and physical community.
I’m praying that the Holy Spirit would pour Himself out in fresh and new ways. That He would give each of us fresh vision for the future! For our families, our country, our church, our lives!
And so, yes, I’m a lonely pastor.
But full of hope!
And I’m praying like crazy for the things I thought I had control over.
And I’m becoming OK with that. I guess it is as it should be.
Grace and peace, everyone.
2 Replies to “Open letter from a lonely pastor.”
Hi all Mighty man of God. Yes it I identify
With you as I miss all my Family in Mozambique.
I constantly wonder if I have tought or shared enough of Jesus with them to sustain them in these times.
Have they got enough food and clothes.
I think of Benny And Pedro having to travel from 24 km to Maputo each day to college to study, in a taxi full of people that may not be taking precautions for covid19
The enormous cost of traveling.
I find solace and comfort in Paul’s words
“My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Glory”
JESUS said ” I will build my church and the gates of hell with not prevail against it”
I must admit I sometimes wonder about this we I look around me and see the sorrow of people,hear there heart breaking story, see the poverty of a man on the street corner beginning, seeing the loneliness in the people’s eyes and the hopelessness of there situations as this pandemic starts taking its toll
It is looking at all this that I sometimes battle with my own faith. And wonder what God is doing and allowing to hape
But I am always drawn back to the day when I met Jesus and how he changed my life and that if there was hope for me the there is hope for all man kind
So I will keep praying and interceding for all man pray that they to will come to the knowledge of salvation and experience the abounding love and provision of Jesus our Lord,saviour and friend.
Thanks Byron, totally resonates with me!