Devotion: Stripped Down

~By Lindsay Barry

I’m supposed to be headed to the airport to drop my daughter off to begin her 10-day adventure with her grandparents in honor of her 13th birthday. My boys are supposed to begin their flag football season today, the first where all three boys are playing for their dad. Like other families, we were also anticipating a nice spring break trip to the beach next week. Whether we go or not, things will look far different next week than we would have imagined just one week ago. Moments of anticipated joy. Taken away. Indefinitely.

Those missed opportunities for joy are far from catastrophic. We know many who work in the financial industry who were hit with a tsunami of fear, doubt, and depression as this week has unfolded. Even those who don’t directly work in the industry know how much our day to day living is affected by market volatility. Others face a very legitimate concern of loss of hours and diminished paychecks. We feel the pressure of the uncertain impact on big life goals and needs: mortgage, college, and retirement. In reality, many face the immediate pressures of food and shelter.

In a span of 48 hours, I had nearly every plan and item in my calendar wiped clean—medical appointments, work meetings, school events, school itself, sports practice, social engagements, and church events. I am a planner. This unnerved me. I went through a range of emotions—anger, sadness, and anxiety. My need for control—and the awareness of its complete absence—were staring me in the face.

It took a bit of time, but God began to wash over me with His peace. What I saw as being stripped of all that mattered, God saw as an opportunity to check my heart. What is it that really matters? What do I really love? What do I serve? In what do I find my purpose? Meaning? Peace? Value?

We read bible stories of people who couldn’t give up their wealth and follow Jesus. Others who couldn’t surrender relationships or livelihood to go with Jesus. I often wonder what I would do in those situations. I typically hope that I would get it right.

Now is my chance. Now is yours. I’m having to live day by day, even hour by hour, submitting to the decisions of people in authority around me. Yet, this is actually godly living. We only have today. We are not to worry about tomorrow. God’s blessings are everywhere in this uncertainty and chaos. Are we missing them?

On a beautiful sunny day this week, I saw kids playing hard in the woods. Kids who would normally be rushing off to sports and lessons. I saw daddies pushing sons in swings. Daddies who might normally be in the office until late at night. I saw moms talking to each other in the front yard comparing grocery lists and laughing. Moms who would normally be shuttling carpool, running errands, or wrapping things up at the office. I spoke with neighbors I hadn’t seen in months. Stripped down living is hard, but redeeming.

We need to realize what we are being stripped of, confess that, grieve that, and repent of it. Then we are freed to cling to God in the way we always should. And, my hope is we are freed up to tune our eyes and hearts to those in our midst who bear an even greater burden in this season.

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