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A Reflection from the new Interim Director of Women’s Ministries

When the day comes that we use the past tense to tell our Covid-19 stories, mine will include leaving a job I loved and starting a new one. These are big decisions in the most “normal” of times, and throwing a pandemic into the mix is unique for sure, and that exactly is my story. I’m mindful that while employment, and the lack thereof, has been one of the nightmares of this pandemic, for so many people, God for some reason chose now to bring me to the Advent.
I have been at the Advent as the Interim Director of Women’s Ministries for exactly one week. I am in Deborah Leighton’s former office just past the receptionist’s desk. As many of you know, this is a returning for me, as years ago I served on the Advent staff as a co-director of Christian Education. I don’t have the words at the moment to describe how all this feels, but God has clearly been leading the way, and I don’t say that lightly. I confess to many times in my life when I had no idea where God was, and this is not one of them. He has brought me here again.
I serve as an interim because I am not qualified in a way that our next permanent director will be. What I offer is a lot of life experience, a love for the Lord and his holy word, and a desire to have the women of the Advent grow in their fellowship with this same Lord and with one another. I’m in no hurry to leave, and I’m not anxious about my future (strange coming from me!). I am eager to get rolling whatever that might look like in this given moment. Most importantly, I look forward to serving along side each of you.
While transitioning to a new job is part of my pandemic story, so is spending a lot of time at home. Frank and I are sticking to the social distancing rules pretty much. I haven’t spent this many daytime hours in our house for years as I have beginning March 13. There are two new homes being built directly behind our house and this has caused a huge increase in our bird population. Our backyard seems to be the new Grand Central Station for all feathered creatures. One robin even chose to build her nest on a light fixture which hangs directly next to the back door on our deck. She is perched high up, as our deck is second floor height, and the eaves over her are great weather buffers, but she is not happy that we claim the deck as well.
Frank and I have become ridiculous fretters over this bird, giving her the name Mama Bird and apologizing profusely when ever we must step outside. Frank even changed menu plans one evening because he did not want to use the grill. It would upset Mama Bird.
What we want so much is for the bird to trust us. To come to an understanding that we are kind and intend no harm. We want her to know that she is safe where she is, and there is no need for her to fly away from her eggs every time we step, very quietly I might add, onto our deck.
I wonder if this is a very small scale taste of how God yearns for us. I am slogging through the book of Jeremiah and the prophet tells us:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
Whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
That sends out its roots by the stream,
And does not fear when heat comes,
For its leaves remain green,
And is not anxious in the year of drought,
For it does not cease to bear fruit.  (17:7-8)

Jeremiah is telling us that for the person who trusts in the Lord, she need not fear the heat and the drought. Even in times of a pandemic, we can be hydrated and fruitful. The living waters provided by a completely trustworthy Lord sustain us and keep us. We have been intentionally planted, meaning that isolation, quarantine, bored children, economic uncertainty, social distancing, concern for our loved ones, do not uproot the steadfastness of our relationship in the Lord.
If Mama Bird would just trust us. If her trust WAS us, as we read in verse 7 above, she would not have to flee in our presence. If we would just trust the Lord. Why is that so hard? Well, hard for me at least.
It’s a bit scary to consider that the creator of the universe knows the full content of my heart. Standing before such knowledge I think I’ll make a quick exit stage right, thank you very much. Jeremiah has a whole lot to say about God’s wrath, too. But the awesome truth is that God not only knows my heart, he knows it and he loves me still. His plans for me are good ones, and through Jesus he has invited me into an unbroken fellowship with him. Jesus answered God’s wrath on the cross. I can nest in his presence, if you will.
I’m grateful to Mama Bird for reminding me of me. Every time she takes off when I open the door (we can withhold the grilling, but our plants need to be watered somehow), I consider my own relationship to the Lord, and I pray that he will provide me the trust and the confidence in him to stay right here with him.
In Christ,
Carolyn Lankford
Interim Director of Women’s Ministries

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