by Pastor Dan Palomino
I don’t think there is a single person on this globe except, perhaps, those who are unable to process reality, who do not know about the pandemic we are in at present. We are constantly bombarded with news about COVID-19. We wake up to it, we see it throughout the day either by watching the news on TV or getting notifications on our phones, and it’s pretty much the last thing we hear or read about before going to sleep.
Thankfully I’m not dreaming about it. Although, in a roundabout sort of way, I am. I have had a dream a couple of nights this week where I had a “normal” encounter with a person from whom I did not have to stand 6 feet away. In another dream (it’s a bit fuzzy now) I think I dreamt of going to a ballgame with my son. I was dreaming about normal life. When I woke up, I felt maybe what we’re actually experiencing in the midst of this pandemic, is the actual dream. Then, of course, I realize that it’s not.
Recently, in my role as chaplain, I was preparing to share a reflection with my hospice team, so I read an article in the LA Times. The article was about ways to be able to get a good night’s sleep and how important this is for maintaining a healthy immune system. One hint is, don’t watch the news too much and especially don’t read any news within 90 minutes of going to bed. Unfortunately, I read this within a half-hour of going to bed. Consequently, I didn’t sleep very well.
Being bombarded with all this news about the corona virus makes me think of the time Jesus walks on the water and Peter calls out to him: “’Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ [Jesus] said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me’” (Matthew 14:28-30).
Of course, Jesus does. Then he asks Peter, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (v. 31) Matthew doesn’t tell us what Peter’s answer was. Perhaps he had no answer. Maybe he just felt ashamed even though he was the only one of the Twelve with the boldness to actually get out of the boat and take Jesus at his word.
But he got distracted with the wind and the waves around him. He lost his focus on the Lord standing before him, the Lord who was with him. The Lord who is with us even as we can easily be distracted by the wind and every wave of news that hits us from all sides. Just as Jesus is in the boat with us (Mark 4), he is on the water with us. We need to keep our eyes on HIM. Yes, we will be aware of the storm around us. We can’t completely ignore it. Nor should we. But our primary focus must be on the Lord.
As we have heard many times from Pastor John (including the last couple of Sundays and in our Wednesday night Digital Discipleship sessions), stay in the Word. Go deeper in the Word. In our first Mobile Life Group, one of our main takeaways from Psalm 1 is to be that tree firmly planted by streams of water by “delighting” in the law of the Lord (His Word) and “meditating” on his law “day and night.”
We are fighting the spread of this pandemic for a time by “social distancing,” or as one of our sisters prefers to call it, “social solidarity.” We must fight the onslaught of reporting of the pandemic by focusing on Jesus and his Word, getting into the Word so that the Word gets into us for all time. Fill your heart and mind with the Word of the Lord, not with the news of COVID-19. May we all be water walkers who are not filled with doubt because of what we see around us but who stay on the water because of WHO we see before us, standing with us.