Aug 04, 2020

Devotional - Janis Buelow

“Family” - Janis Buelow - Adventure Staff 2020 

COVID-19 definitely swept through the lives of all of us during these crazy times. Still, there is one word that has been sitting on my mind throughout everything – family. 

When things get hard, we can trust Jesus in all we do. However, it can be challenging to feel that simplicity. 

As a college student fighting unemployment, failed start-up businesses, and trying to pass online classes, I have my fair share of failures and difficulties. Especially during May, where finals were popping up with seemingly no end to the stress, it was hard to put my fist in the air and “TRUST JESUS” (as was the theme in Rocky Railway VBS from Group Publishing this year). Many of you might have felt like that too. However, the opportunities found in this time might have seemed frustrating, but the consistency was that word from earlier – family. 

Family can be described as a “positive connection” to those with similar interests, hobbies, and cultures. The ideal “family” should be our blood relatives. Still, family can also be your close church group, your immediate friends, or even a group of coworkers who get together for coffee. All of you share a common goal and have bonded over how you got to that place in time. That makes you family. 

VBS this year pushed the aspect of “family” based studies. Parents were given the tools to bring the Faith Five (Share, Read, Talk, Pray, and Bless) into their homes. This model was a good one to start with because it created wholesome conversations and mirrored what Christ taught while working with the parables. Hopefully, doing so helped to create meaningful conversations between the families. Maybe you didn’t even realize you had been using the Faith Five until I brought it up! 

I am reminded of a passage in Acts 17 because of the family model, and maybe you might see a similar thought process to me. When Paul visits Athens, he is greatly discouraged because the city is full of idols. Similarly, our families and the world beyond our immediate bubble is also filled with idols. A few come to mind – politics, money, even to some extent, physical buildings. 

COVID-19 sparked a piece of “idolatry” that everyone might have felt was pulling them into more challenges. For me, I definitely felt like that pull was just an exaggeration of idols that were already there. When we could not get haircuts, there were protests. When we could not agree on how to deal with the pandemic, there were national-level arguments. The world felt similar to the Athens Paul walked into in chapter 17. 

Paul could have given up on Athens. He could have seen the city in ruins, filled to the brim with idol worship and bigotry. Instead, he preached. However, he did not preach destruction, despair, or threats. He trusted the Word and preached to the “lost.” In verse 28, Paul even says, “For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” He embraced the bigotry and said YOU are a loved child of God. He then acknowledged their issues, and instead of pushing them away, he urged them toward the cross. 

VBS taught our kids that “Jesus Power gives us hope, makes us strong, helps us be friends, etc.” It also explained that those points are essential to create conversation and cultivate faith within our homes, like the families we are. Hopefully, from Paul’s example with Athens, we can take what we have learned so far and live it out in the uncertainty of the next year or so by trusting Jesus. Just like Paul preached to the people who seemed so far gone that to others, it might not have been worth it. 

Thank you so much to all of you guys for sticking with us during our own experience fighting modernized idolatry in the world today. I pray and hope that your lives continue to be the blessed, loved ones that they are and that you know we are here for you as family. 

Lord Jesus, I pray that you would keep us all safe. I pray that you would continue to be with our lost family and help guide them to You. Keep us this day and remind us of your power and love in all that we do. Amen. 

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