Long, long ago, in college classrooms far, far away there were no personal computers. In fact, there was simply one little basement room in the entire campus of my college that had two or three computer monitors and a computer system that ran paper cards. Really. This was the era in which I took my first computer programming class. (Truth be told, I despised that class. Attention to detail is not my strength, so every time I had an extra space or a mis-placed keystroke in the code I wrote, the program would not run. Then I would spend hours trying to find and fix my error. But I digress…) My biggest takeaway from BASIC programming was that computer programs run on a binary system of rapidly processed continuous choices between “1” and “0.” That’s it. (Remember that next time you spend $1000 on a laptop!)
A Binary Culture
Do you ever feel like our culture is operating inside of a computer? Have you noticed that so much that poses as discussion is couched in binary ways?
If you spend any time on social media, or on cable news, or in political theater, you are likely to find yourself regularly bombarded with either-or propositions. This or that. Them or us. Rich or poor. Rural or urban. Black or white. Is this really the nature of God’s universe? Do we live in a static computer program or in a dynamic universe held together by God’s power? Does God reveal himself through a set of binary propositions or does he reveal himself through his Word and his world? So much of what the Scripture teaches us is that life is lived in tension. There is not only conflict between good and evil—which I am not discounting—but also a literal tension between two right things. Christ was described by John as “full of grace and truth.” That is noteworthy because it requires so much godly tension. Grace AND truth. Fallen human beings are prone to one or the other. Jesus as the only perfect human being flawlessly exhibited both. While none of us can possibly perfectly emulate Christ, by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit we are called to be conformed more and more to his image.
What I am asking each of us to reflect on is this: “Where am I presenting or embracing a binary stance where there is a biblical call to embrace the tension between two good things?”…
Last Spring, as the restrictions of the pandemic lockdowns and isolation began, I was so grateful for the means to meet virtually with my people. There were a few brief weeks of quiet, and then the Zoom meetings began, slowly at first. Once we realized the potential, we were zooming all over the place! Book studies, Titus 2 meetings, ministry team meetings, Bible studies—if two or more were gathering, Zoom was there. I even got our far-flung family into the act and we had weekly visits with our kids who live all over the country, and my husband and I even started reading bedtime stories to our grandsons.
Before we knew it, “Zoom fatigue” set in, and it wasn’t so much fun anymore. The meetings became more difficult. From poor connections and frozen screens, to the true psychological effects of staring at a screen without the ability to make eye contact or pick up nonverbal communication, virtual meetings grew wearisome. Now, don’t get me wrong, we were glad to be able to at least see one another’s faces as we visited. But when it comes to most of our meetings, nothing replaces being in person.
God’s Word is Not Bound
As our women’s ministry prepares for our Fall Bible studies, we don’t yet know if we will be able to meet in person, and even if we may, for how long. There’s a strong possibility that we will need to use virtual means in order to offer our studies to our women. The thought of this grieves me. I miss being with our women and sharing together over God’s word. Muddling through an hour of Bible study through a camera and screen feels like talking through prison bars.
And yet, even if we must Zoom our studies, I have hope, because, as the apostle Paul reminded Timothy while writing from prison, “the word of God is not bound!” (2 Tim. 2:19)….
Honestly, when I was asked to write this post, the first thought that came to mind was, “I am an unlikely person to write an encouraging article about going back to school.”
I prefer the predictable. I am quite uncomfortable in the unknown. I still order chicken nuggets with a coke “no ice” at restaurants because chicken nuggets with a coke “no ice” was what I ordered at fast food restaurants as a child. I seldom swim in oceans, lakes, or rivers because I am not exactly certain which creatures may be swimming near my feet. I struggle when I cannot see every nook and cranny of the waters in which I am swimming.
So, now you know my secrets and why I am an unlikely author for this post. I would rather live everyday like it was Groundhog Day—again. When it comes to uncertainty in my life, there is a gospel gap between my theology and the way I live in the unknown.
As a mom to four elementary-aged children, God is inviting me into a season of uncertainty. Like many of you, I will be swimming in all the unknowns that come with a new school year during the global pandemic.
Here are some promises I am intentionally massaging into my heart as I learn and grow to trust God in the school of His sovereignty.
The Gap Is Filled
The gospel gap between what I know and how I live is filled by Jesus. He has already filled the gap; I just fail to remember His power is the only thing that sustains my every breath and stills my every storm…