|Posted on March 31, 2020 at 11:35 AM|
Last Sunday was a first for the Church in the Woods. Since October of 2001 we have assembled in the woods at Freedom Ranch for weekly worship and fellowship. Although, at first, the facilities were “rustic” to say the least (generators and port-a-potties) the spirit was genuine and exciting. Over the years we’ve had only one or two occasions of hurricane conditions that prevented our meeting, but last Sunday we were unable to meet due to the threat of a pandemic. The threat of an invisible enemy, Covid-19, succeeded in preventing the public gathering of the saints at Freedom Ranch.
As usual, my initial reaction was one of skepticism and rebellion. Because I am always skeptical of the news media and naturally rebellious toward any government infringement on my liberty, my initial thought was to rationalize why I would continue the Sunday meetings despite the threat. Then I prayed and the Lord said, “Shut it down”. So last Sunday was the first meeting that was cancelled due to the pandemic. What made it especially grievous to me was the fact that we had planned a special service honoring our Vietnam Vets on March 29th, the national Vietnam Veterans Day.
When the Lord told me to suspend the Sunday meetings at the ranch he offered no immediate explanation other than the obvious threat due to the pandemic. As I stopped whining and began to think about the things that are just, honest, true, etc., I began to realize that Jesus is still in charge of the Church in the Woods and is doing something new with us during this time. Accepting the truth that Jesus is, indeed, the head of not only the “general assembly of the first born” but also the Church in the Woods at Freedom Ranch I began to see some positive outcomes of “social distancing” beyond preventing the spread of a virus.
For the past several years I have considered the use of modern technology to spread the gospel throughout the world. Being a “technophobe”, however, I have dragged my feet on learning to use the internet to its fullest and relied on others to try to capture the messages God gives me. Now I have no choice but to dive in with both feet to proclaim the gospel in a way I am not accustomed to. This personal challenge is “stretching me” out of my comfort zone, but I sense the Lord is planning on doing more with it than I have imagined. Although we cannot gather here at the ranch due to social distancing we can still function as members of the body of Christ in our homes and communicate with one another via technology.
While communication through modern technology may be somewhat cumbersome until we get used to it, it may prove even more effective as it makes our communication more intentional and personal than casual. Online meetings also serve to include people from outside our geographical area who may not otherwise get together with us. Above all, I trust the same Holy Spirit to direct and empower us in a new era.