In the greater Nashville area, 2020 has been a year to remember. Well, OK, most of us in Middle Tennessee are ready to get out of 2020 and into 2021. Maybe next year will be better. In March, we had tornadoes. Those storms were quickly followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and then, the racial unrest that has caused protests around our country. Most of us have been self-quarantined for over six weeks, working from home and trying to make sure our children don’t fall too far behind in their online classes.
All of us want to go back to the way things were before everything went south. Let’s remember, however, that where we were got us to where we are. If we did magically find our way back to where we were, we would end up back at where we are right now.
Each of these challenges has unmasked a serious issue of neglect within our society. Our medical system wasn’t ready for the pandemic. For weeks, we had conflicting information and confusing instructions. Our frontline workers didn’t have the PPEs required to do their jobs safely. The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked marches and riots across the United States.
Every day, we had to wade through a flood of bad news. More infections, more deaths, more marches, and more riots – what were we going to do? Where do you start to get these things fixed?
For most of us, the moment is overwhelming. We don’t know what to do. We don’t know whom to listen to or whom to trust. We don’t know which issue to address first. Do we help our neighbors clean up the debris left from the storms? Do we march with our black brothers and sisters? Do we stay at home to try and contain the spread of COVID-19?
Overwhelmed, most of us choose to do nothing. We feel sad for our world. We feel bad for all that is happening, but the challenge is just too big.
OK. Take a deep breath. Remember, God never put us in charge of everything. He has never abdicated His throne to one of us.
Adam was given a garden. That’s it. Likewise, each of us is given our own gardens. We’re only responsible for our little part of the world. We’re responsible for our relationship to God, our families, our communities, and our mission in the world.
One of the most important decisions we can make is to determine where our garden is. Several years ago, I was seeking the Lord’s leading in a variety of issues when He reminded me that I was called to be the pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church. I was called to be Jeannie’s husband and a father to Chris and Craig. I was to live faithfully in my community, and if I was faithful in that, I would have lived a meaningful and powerful life.
I probably would never sail around the world. I would never climb Mount Everest. Those things aren’t my calling. They aren’t in my garden.
Loving Middle Tennessee well is. I can do that.
During these overwhelming times, it’s important we don’t allow the waves to swamp our little boats.
So, focus. Pay attention to those things that are in your garden. Work your garden well and let the rest go.
The movie “Hacksaw Ridge” tells the story of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who served as a medic in one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. As his unit charged the heavily fortified Hacksaw Ridge on Okinawa, Doss saved 75 men and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery. Interviewed later, Doss said he kept praying, “Lord, help me get just one more.”
We may not be able to fix everything, but we can fix a few things. Fix those.
We may not be able to save everyone, but we can save some. Save those.
And keep praying, “Lord, help me get just one more.”