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FIRST-PERSON: After the flood, after COVID

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PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (BP) – Since COVID-19 came to the U.S., I’ve been obsessed with Noah. Many times during the initial shutdown/quarantines, I have pondered the man on the ark.

My first thoughts were about his isolation. He was with his family along with many furry and feathered friends, but they were cut off from the rest of the world – just as we were in the beginning. I consoled myself with the reminder that Noah had to stay on the ark until it was exactly the right time to disembark. Oh, the thoughts of each day. So many had died. The heartache was immense – for him, for us.

Before the pandemic, I hadn’t realized how much that old, old story applied to this very century. This week I am fixated on his after-ark experience.

While they were no doubt relieved (Noah and his family may have kissed the muddy ground after getting off the boat), it wouldn’t have been easy. Yes, they had built the ark and it had taken forever. Yes, they had been on the boat for a year. Yes, they were finally, finally off the ark. But now, there was more hard work ahead: starting over. They were building new homes, a new life, new futures.

Wow. I get it. I feel that’s where we are today, post-COVID. No ministry was unchanged. Doors were shut on countless opportunities. Many churches and missions were transformed if not closed completely. Those in ministry were forced to stretch way out of the box, showing flexibility, perseverance and patience.

My personal ache was that our jail ministry was shut down. I don’t have to tell you what happens when you take Jesus out of a place.

Many of you reading this have experienced the loss or change of a ministry. You are overwhelmed, wondering where to begin. Again, we can find inspiration from Noah. His exit from the ark was an entrance into a changed world. It’s interesting that we are talking about the same time frame. In a year, Noah’s world – the whole world – had changed. So has ours. All the years before are now memories. The work is hard and different.

I wonder if Noah was lonely. He only had his family to talk to. Thankfully today, God networks and knits us together with others who are in ministry to share and encourage. Find your network!

Pastors, preachers, ministry leaders, teachers: Press on! Don’t give up! The Lord will help you in a post-COVID world! As Solomon faced the enormous mission of building the temple, his father David encouraged him. Take his words to your own heart: “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work … is finished” (1 Chronicles 28:20).

Noah had no idea how his story, God’s story, was going to turn out. Nor do we.

I picture the scene – Noah, looking every bit of his 601 years, exhaling deeply, shoulders sagging at the new, monumental task before him. Just when starting over seemed so overwhelming …

A rainbow appeared in the sky.