I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Debbie Ramamoorthy (WITHIN Devotional Contributor)
The talk around COVID-19 has consumed us all. There is no denying it. It consumes us for very real reasons. Reasons that are rooted in fear, loss of certainty, unknowns, anxiety, grieving- and everything in between.
We are in the Amazon region of Ecuador, living and sharing our walls with those who lost their jobs overnight. Taxi drivers, Tienda owners, small businesses, maids-all of whom are those we share the same street with. Week 1 passed, then week 2, week 3, week 4... week... 9? Are we really on week 9 of the lockdown? A lockdown in Ecuador looks a little different. We have a curfew of 2pm, with the police monitoring the streets yelling at us to get back in our homes and fining us if we disobey. We have one day a week where we are allowed to go grocery shopping. A task that now takes up to anywhere between 5-7 hours of the day. Between biking (often in the pouring rain) or the beating heat, bringing back our groceries and then the grueling process of disinfecting, it can be exhausting. Yet, we can't seem to take our eyes off of those who live right across the street from us, or those whom we share a wall with! The workers who no longer have money to put food on the table. The kids who are running around a 5x5 foot concrete "patio" behind a metal fence, in the hopes of expending just a small bit of overflowing energy. So, am I writing this to paint a sad picture of the reality of our world? No! Recently, we have been studying the book of Galatians and this is what God is teaching me.
Galatians 2 talks to us about remembering the poor. "Their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor, which I have always been eager to do." (vs.10)
We were daily reminded that our nature is to not be selfless. We are innately selfish. We cope by holding on to what feels safe and comfortable. During times like these, where we each have our plates full of our own grievances, the question we should ask is how can we move from an inwards posture to an outwards one? It doesn't feel natural, yet alone, desirable. We can fall into the thought that we have to first work on surviving before being able to help others, right?
Well my challenge today is to let Galatians 2, and the call to help the poor, be digested within us. Let us sit with what we are being asked of. We aren't simply asked to help the poor by doing our due diligence. For me, it is about taking a look inward and allowing God to convict me of my sin! It is allowing Him to bring out the areas within me that need refinement--those areas of selfishness and insular thinking, so that I can "... have the same mindset as Jesus Christ." (Philippians 2:5-8).
We have a role model in the person of Jesus Christ! We really don't have to look much farther. He was fully human, and did His ministry on Earth, amidst a broken and sinful humanity. Yet, He was constantly being renewed and led by the Father to serve. So, in the same way- how can we start letting the gospel of Good News inform the culture we create? Rather than allowing our world’s culture to dictate the gospel, how can we allow the gospel to dictate our culture? We do this by pouring ourselves into Scripture and allowing the Lord to direct our ways. It's moving from an insulated way of thinking into a selfless way of living.
So, while going through this very real, painful, challenging and in some ways heart-breaking, process of refinement, I have been challenged to show up. To show up for my neighbors. To show up for those close to me and far away from me. To give my tangible resources such as food and groceries. To give of my time to those who need a listening ear during this time of loneliness and isolation.
I have been convicted that while it’s easy for me to give my resources and check that off my list, I need to take it beyond that. I also have seen how it’s easy to only think about how this time is allowing me to reconnect with my family and to grow me internally but it has to be more. God is showing me that it’s a time to actually serve others by being able to think about them and their needs and to make the time to pray for them---not just focus on what’s happening with me.
My hope and prayer is that we are able to step into the tangible world of loving our neighbors as Christ desires for us to love them!
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
Psalm 89:4-18Questions to Reflect on: