Right at the start I am going to just confess, be straight forward and honest. I looked it up (as in Googlepedia) what was the online group think? What is “forward”? The first two lines nailed me, as in NO WAY.
“Forward…in front of…progress.”
Both of these imply movement… consistent movement. Inferred is in a positive direction. All of these elements can be tricky for me in “normal” circumstances but they were insurmountable during this last year of COVID.
BC (as in before COVID) I had an active ministry with juveniles in jails and prisons, women in prisons, and seniors in assisted living. Several days a week I was in the presence of these groups presenting programs, mentoring, preaching, praying with. It is who and what I am…what I am called to do. I love this work and the people I am blessed to be with. And suddenly-it is all shut down. Poof. Just gone. They are shut in and cut off. Soon after I am shut in and physically cut off from anything outside my house. I am systematically being taught that others are dangerous for me to be around. I could die. Others were sick and dying. Fear and loneliness began to overshadow hope.
I was beginning to feel isolated and alone.
But my world is never all dark, nor is it mostly dark very long. All I needed to do was to look up (my thought for consulting the Lord) for God’s flame burns within me. I began to know that I had to find a way back to my people for they were all the most vulnerable and alone groups out there.
They had no resources and no way they could connect with anyone. Those in prison were literally living on slices of bread and bottled water, hunkered down in small spaces. I prayed a lot for them and about how to reach them with encouragement. For if this isolation and fear was hard for me, I could not imagine how hard it must be for them.
If you believe and call upon the Lord, God will show you a way. And sure enough, God did. That way was not at all what I expected, which is usual for my relationship with God. Before long I began doing unthought of things to be with my flock, glowing with shared love. I let God figure out the things I am worried about and just go out and do what I know God has called me to do. My path is probably not always the “forward” I read about, for sometimes I am afraid and long for the comfortable parts of the past. But faith moves me onward with hope as a constant companion.
Rev. Mary Reddick
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
I collected stories about how faith kept people moving forward and put them together as a devotional for this Lenten season.
You can download the entire devotional here: