Pandemic School: From Dread to Expectation

By: Gena Anderson

A few weeks ago I stopped at an ATM to get cash on the way to the lake. This particular machine had video surveillance, and displayed the live footage on a small screen. As I looked at myself in the security video, I couldn’t help but laugh at the apparent bank robber staring back at me. I was wearing a ball cap, sunglasses, and a mask, my lake/global pandemic attire. There was a time that seeing someone at an ATM in that getup would’ve been received with some arched eyebrows, maybe even a call to the police! That day, no one even batted an eye.

Funny how our expectations change. A few months ago seeing someone in a mask meant they were suffering from cancer or somehow immunocompromised. Now, seeing someone without a mask is interpreted as inappropriate and selfish. We’ve come to expect it.

“David built houses for himself in the city of David, and he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it,” 1 Chronicles 15:1, CSB.

I ran across this verse recently: a small bit in the middle of the biblical chronicles of David’s well-documented life, yet it stuck out. David, being a man after God’s own heart, longed to bring the ark back to God’s people. The ark represented God’s presence in those days, and it had been separated from God’s people, David’s people, for some time. 

At the time of this verse David was making preparations for this ark he had yet to possess. In fact, he had already failed miserably in trying to bring it back before. Though he didn’t currently possess the ark and had failed to do so previously, David believed so firmly that God would allow him to bring the ark back that he went ahead and prepared a special place for it. Just as sure as he knew he needed a house for himself, he knew he needed a dwelling place for the presence of God.

Today, what are you expecting? I’ve come to expect a lot of things. As many of us prepare to send our kids back to school in the most unusual ways, we expect frustrations and unknown challenges. I’ve admittedly been dreading this year, and my attitude has shown it. The thought of my children spending one more minute alone on their Chromebooks makes me want to scream. At least it did, until God woke me up with two words: expect me.

As our teachers and school administrators prepare for this year they are trying to anticipate and plan for all possibilities. I think it’s safe to say our expectations for this school year are drastically different than any previous year. The lengths our schools are having to go to are weighing heavy on many hearts, none more than the teachers, staff, and administrators.

What this verse reminded me was to believe God will make his presence known among his people. It reminded me that I need to be so certain of this that I plan for it, and make preparations. I can’t let last year’s frustrations discourage me. When God calls us to do something, and we fail or do it poorly, he expects us to learn from it and keep inviting him back to help and guide us.

This school year, there are many unknowns, and they are at best potential hurdles, and at worst downright scary. In fact, there is really only one thing I know for sure: God knows it all.

I believe whole-heartedly God is going to be there, in our classrooms and homes. He always shows up when he’s invited. We simply need to do our part to prepare for his presence. Pray, get in the Word, invite him into what you’re doing. 

Don’t worry about the unknowns, we will know what we need to know when it’s time for us to know it. For now, anticipate his arrival, even if you don’t see him yet. Just like David did, be so sure he’s going to show up that you’ve already prepared for him. Make space in your day, home, classroom, and heart right now. Then, expect he will fill it as only he can do. There is no social distancing strategy, lesson plan, or safety measure that can put your mind at ease like the creator of the universe.

Expect God, because there is no doubt he expects to be there.

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