Woodward: In quietness and confidence will be our strength

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These are perplexing, confusing and stressful days as our communities are affected by the coronavirus pandemic.  It seems as though the story changes on a daily basis as people react to the situation at hand.  As a pastor, this is a whole new experience for me.  I have never pastored churches in the midst of a pandemic such as the coronavirus.   Indeed, this is unchartered territory for all of us.

I like to walk in the woods on our hobby farm.  I like to watch the deer, turkeys, pheasants, rabbits and squirrels.  I will sometimes sit on a log and think and pray and listen to the sounds around me – of the wind blowing in the trees and the sounds of birds as they sing their songs.  I often experience nature as a place to focus my thoughts and feelings and to be refreshed in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

During these days, I turn to Isaiah 30:15:  “In confidence and quietness is your strength.”  I find peace and comfort in focusing on the presence of God in my life.  Right now, I miss the gathered community of Believers, I miss the happy singing, the laughing and giggling, the community coming together to rejoice in the goodness of God! 

Nevertheless, during these days of  “social distancing” when so many things are closed, cancelled or in some way changed, we need to find encouragement and renewed hope.  Perhaps the words of Isaiah can be of benefit for all of us.  It is in quietness and confidence that we find strength for the days in which we live.  We find that our faith and our trust in God grow as we open ourselves to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

During his ministry, Jesus often went to the wilderness to spend time in prayer and to be renewed and strengthened.   He focused on his relationship with God.  During this time, may we also find ways to be comforted and strengthened.

As a pastor and as a Christian, I must confess I do not know all the answers.  But, I do know that in all things God is faithful and that there is nothing that can ever separate us from God’s love in Jesus Christ.  We are called to be supportive of one another and to encourage one another during all of life.  

If I can be of help and support to anyone, please give me a call at 507-346-2830 in the days to come.  (I can also be reached on Facebook or at mark.woodward.ponderosa@gmail.com ) We all need to pray for one another.  And even though many things have been cancelled and closed right now, may we find strength in turning to our faith and remembering God’s unending love for us all.

“In quietness and confidence will be our strength” – Isaiah 30:15.  In these perplexing days may we open our hearts and minds to the goodness of God and in all things remember that God’s love has no end in Jesus Christ and that in the words of Rev. John Wesley,  “God is with us always…” God will see us through.

The Rev. Mark Woodward is pastor at Maple Leaf Parish: Spring Valley Faith, Cherry Grove and Fountain United Methodist Churches and the historic Lenora Church.