I like to be prepared. I like to be able to help. For instance if someone’s car battery dies, I like to have a flashlight and jumper cables ready.  It brings me some joy and makes me feel useful to be able to help, so I tend to keep things with me to be prepared. All the extra time at home during covid combined with my desire to be ready has caused a bit of an obsession. I have discovered online shopping like never before.

Early in covid, I set out to create the perfect set of tools I need every day or at least that I want to have ready every day. I bought two different leather pocket organizers and in each one I placed a flashlight, a pocket knife, and a pen. One set is larger than the other. This way I have choices based on what I think I will be doing that day. Then I got a new wallet because my pocket organizers were too big to fit with my other wallet. I bought a key organizer that keeps my keys from jangling or poking my leg when I sit. I got a new watch. This watch recharges a little every time I move, so, theoretically, I will never need a battery. For Father’s Day, I got a new multitool that has 21 different tools on it. It was heavier than I thought so I bought a waist pack (formally known as a fanny pack) to carry my multitool in. This waist pack has multiple pockets so I set out to fill them. I have a place for headache medicine, a few Band-Aids, my cloth mask, hand sanitizer, and screw driver bits for the multitool. The pack even has a padded space for my phone and kindle. Just when I thought I had run out of things to waste money on, I decided I need some rain boots. We went through several weeks of rain and I got tired of getting my shoes covered in grass walking the dog or short cutting through the grass to my office. So I bought a pair of rain boots. I also bought a new hat with a brim all the way around for sun or rain. 

One day, Jennifer and I were about to head to town to do some back to school shopping for the kids and it was raining. I emerged from the bedroom proclaiming I was ready. I had on my rubbery rain boots and my hat. Around my waist was my fanny pack and my pockets were full of my new stuff. I had my mask ready and I was excited to venture out into the world for a little bit.  Jennifer just burst out laughing and said she was not going anywhere with me dressed like that. I must admit I was perturbed. I thought I looked okay, but I also felt as though I was ready for a large number of mini-catastrophes. However, Jennifer is the reasonable one in our relationship, so I changed. I did, however, kept my pocket organizer thing, my wallet, and my new watch. We opted for an umbrella to share for the rain and the promise to dodge puddles while staying out of the grass.

When I think back on that day, I admit I must have looked ridiculous. I think I had become so overwhelmed by this year that I had gone a little overboard in my preparedness. I still love my stuff, but perhaps I do not need it all with me at all times. Maybe you have felt overwhelmed by this year. Life has changed significantly. We have less in-person social time and we have had to adjust our lives based doing only what is really necessary in order to help keep others safe. It can feel lonely, scary, tiring, and endless. If you are anything like me, all these feelings can kind of sneak up on you. I really thought I was just doing something I enjoyed as I tried to prepare for every situation, but really I think I was trying to alleviate those feelings.

If this year has taught me anything, it is that God is prepared. I can never be prepared for everything, but God is. God has opened new doors where I could only see a wall. Recording equipment and volunteer hours have allowed us to worship virtually. Our phones, our computers, and even good ol’ letters have allowed us to check on each other and maybe even say things we were afraid to say face to face. God has showed us how to worship in-person while distanced and in a mask. I have been able to see people from our church work together to make worship possible and as safe as we can — something we took for granted before. Vacation Bible School happened and people from our church became television stars for our kids. We had a Pentecost parade where we prayed not just for our church but for our community. All of this, and so much more, has happened because God is prepared. 

Just when we think we have it all figured out, the world throws something at us that we think is insurmountable. Then God shows us a way.  My hope is that this month we start really preparing ourselves by turning to the God who has a plan and who makes a way. I admit I do not know what the future holds, but I do know that whatever may come, God will lead us through it. I am grateful to be part of a community and church that takes seriously the call on us to protect each other and care for each other. I am grateful to all the people who have adjusted and helped me see a path when I felt hopeless. I am grateful to God who — no matter what comes — will not leave us and who continues to lead us through. Worship is still happening. Service is still happening. Love is still happening. Let us join together and let God continue to show us new ways and let us find peace in knowing that God is prepared.

Hopeful and willing to adjust,

Pastor Jimmy Hendricks, pastorjimmy@nolensvilleumc.org