I have often said that when things feel overwhelming and chaotic on the outside, I will turn to the things inside that make it feel normal again. What kind of things? My favorite Bible verses, television shows, and books, among other things.

It’s possible that I’ve racked up more hours of tv watching than I’d like to admit and should be a shriveled up raisin given the amount of time I’ve spent reading in the bathtub during this pandemic.

Desperate times, people.

Generally, if I can be home with my family where things are familiar and comfortable, I’m good.

Home is the only place that truly feels safe.

And while I’m grateful for our little sanctuary, safe from the crazy of the outside world, I know better than to think I’ve found the solution for living my best life.

There’s no way around it – God, in all His wisdom, did not create us to walk this world alone. He knew we were going to need each other. We need real contact with real people.

Yes, even you, my dear introverted friends.

We need each other, and the 11 months we’ve spent at home, primarily away from the outside world (some of us completely alone), has taken a toll.

Friends, we have had to pivot again and again these past several months. Our experience has brought whole new meaning to the word “flexible.” Between adjusting to zoom meetings and working from home and our children schooling from home, not to mention living in a time where our country is extremely volatile and divided politically, it’s been A LOT.

We. Are. Tired.

Covid fatigue is a real thing.

My favorite comfort books are Jan Karon’s Mitford series, and I read and reread them every year. Currently I’m nearing the end of the series again (which would be sad, but I’ll just start them over again, so no worries) and was at this part where Father Tim has been called to this little mountain church that had been basically abandoned. After months of hard work and building relationships and lots of prayer, people were finally coming back to the church. Before he knew it, they were busting at the seams, and gearing up for their Christmas Eve service. Father Tim had made note of some severe wintry weather headed their way, concerned that his congregation wouldn’t be able to safely make it. He offered up a simple prayer:

“Give us your grace to gather, Lord.”

And I cannot stop thinking about those words.

Of course, I’ve read them time and time again, but never within our current circumstances. Now they have a whole new meaning.

Admittedly, I’ve had a bad attitude during much of this pandemic, feeling that quarantining the healthy was ridiculous. I still lean that way, but given the high numbers of sickness and deaths, coupled with the fact that I’m neither a medical professional or a scientist, I’ve chosen to let that go and change my focus and prayers towards healing and the days when we will be able to safely gather again.

It is undoubtedly a more gentle approach.

Will you join me in praying for churches and schools? Pray for those in ministry and administration as they figure out safe ways to continue reopening.

And at the risk of frustrating any of you – can I encourage you to ask yourself some hard questions? Are you comfortable going to the store, but scared to come to church? What is keeping you from returning to church?

We need each other, friends. We need to gather and worship the Lord together.

We need to ask God for the grace to gather.

Join me, will you?

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” -Hebrews 10:24-25