Title: Observations & Thoughts From Practicing COVID-19 Vigilance
Since being activated to work the COVID-19 Mission, my activities as a chaplain has changed in several ways.
Ministry has been extended to include not just the airmen at my base, but airmen and soldiers from other bases as they assist with food banks, COVID-19 drive- through testing sites, homeless shelters, and medical supplies distribution centers. These activities go from El Centro to Joshua Tree to Gardena.
It's a blessing to see all these different organizations and agencies working together alongside our law enforcement agencies, first responders and medical personnel during this pandemic to serve those in our communities. In a way, I get to see how human beings, made in the image of God, bear His image through their selfless and caring acts of love toward others.
As they carry out their work, you can't help but notice the vigilance being practiced. A person takes temperature scans at the entrance. Everyone wears masks. People open doors with paper towels. Every working surface area is wiped down with a bleach towelette. Hand sanitizer dispensers are at every point of entry into a building. Instead of high fives or hand shakes, people give "elbows". And duct tape on the tiles mark off 6 feet of acceptable distancing between individuals who stand in line. There is a heightened "watch" to ensure we do not let the virus come into contact with us.
Recently, on one of my visitations, a thought crossed my mind: "What if we were as vigilant about sin in our lives?" I sensed that God was saying, "Ed, what would your life look like if you were as vigilant about the reality of sin that is in you and its effects on your soul as you are about the this virus?"
What would our lives look like if we took as much precautions to ensure we didn't succumb to the temptations we face and chose not to let sin rule and reign in our lives?
If I am honest, I would be quick to admit that sin finds itself lurking in more places than I am willing to admit. Sometimes I think I've "beaten" a certain sin only to find that in reality I only manage it or hide it better.
Sometimes, maybe if you're like me, you think to yourself (more times than not) that Paul's statement in Romans 7:24-25 could well be your life verse and best describes your walk with God. It reads:
Romans 7:24 (NLT)
24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
If so, then I think we can all be encouraged by the next verse that follows.
25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
And so, let's allow our times being vigilant of the COVID-19 virus during this pandemic remind us to be watchful of something even more deadly - namely, our own sin. Let's open ourselves up to the "scanning of the Holy Spirit" and allow the Lord to daily "Search us, and know our hearts; test us and know our anxious thoughts. Point out anything in us that offends you, and lead us along the path of everlasting life." (Psalm 139:23–24, NLT)
I'm convinced that as we do so, you and I will grow in our gratitude toward God and toward His Son who came to die for and deliver us from our sins.