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Sailing in Uncharted Waters

Christopher Columbus, Henry the Navigator, Vasco de Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, Ponce de Leon – they all have one thing in common. They were explorers during the Age of Discovery. They sailed uncharted waters. They faced the open sea not knowing what lie ahead.

The year 2020 so far has been a murky mess of uncharted waters through which we have been forced to navigate. We were given no map or instruction manual. Little historical precedence has proved useful. We have been bombarded by contradicting messages from the media, our leaders and even many scientists.

And in these murky waters, we have had to make difficult choices about masks, vacations and work.

This last week, as a father and pastor, I was involved in two difficult decisions: whether or not to restart public worship services at our church and whether or not to send my children to school.

Due to the recent uptick of cases of COVID-19 in our community and among the membership of our congregation, in early July we suspended worship as a precautionary measure. Now we had to decide whether to begin again or no. Was it too soon? Were we taking unnecessary risks? How would the continued absence of public worship affect the faith and lives of our membership?

A tense and difficult discussion led to the decision to once again restart. Some members were elated. Others were frustrated and concerned.

Due to the loss of class time in the spring, our local public schools decided to begin the school year on July 30. As parents, we were given a choice: send our children to school, do online classes or homeschool. Like many parents in our community and in our country, my wife and I struggled to decide which option would be best. In the end, we decided to send our children for face to face instruction.

Only time will tell the consequences of both decisions.

Yet, no matter what happens, I will regret neither. Though we received no direct revelation from God, I am at peace knowing we came to those decisions in a godly way.

When you face difficult decisions during this pandemic – or any time in your life – I encourage you to do three things. First of all, pray. Ask God for wisdom. Ask him for peace. Ask him for courage. He promises to give you all three.

Then turn to his Word for guidance and strength. Talk to your pastor. Oftentimes, God tells us in his Word exactly which choice he wants to make or gives us principles which will guide our decisions.

If God’s Word gives no direct answer, then ask yourself: Which choice best shows love to others and brings glory to God? Then make your decision.

If you prayerfully make your decision based on those three steps, you can be at peace knowing you made the right choice, even if things don’t turn out the way you would have wanted.

Honestly, my children and my church may get sick. I can’t see the future. We are in uncharted waters.

Yet we can sail these murky waters with the peace of knowing our God is in the boat with us. He will not leave us or forsake us. He will bless and work through our decisions made in prayer and love.

That means, however, that two Christians can go through the same process and make different decisions. God can be glorified with the decision to suspend worship or restart it. He can be glorified whether we send our kids to school or keep them at home. When the Bible gives us no specific direction, Christians can honestly and faithfully disagree on what is best.

So be patient with those whose decisions differ from yours. Be humble. Be kind. Remember we are all sailing through uncharted waters.