Don’t Press Pause

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…Consider [Jesus] who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1b,3

Dear Good Sam,

Yes, it’s me again. I’m pretty sure we’ve met before, though there are a lot of you and it’s possible I missed a few. I pray you’re well, and hope the quarantine hasn’t treated you too poorly. I’m writing today to ask a favor. I know there’s a lot going on, and I know it might be hard, but I really need your help with this.

Don’t press pause.

Isn’t it great how we can pause everything now? Even live TV, with a DVR or the right streaming program, can come to a halt. I remember rushing to the kitchen for a snack during commercial breaks. I remember frantically pouring a drink or scooping ice cream at breakneck speed, hoping I was fast enough. I remember my sister yelling from the living room: “It’s onnnnn!!” and I’d come sliding back into the room, balance barely maintained, popcorn pieces flying everywhere, as I struggled to find my seat with my eyes glued to the screen. My siblings and I became skilled at going to the bathroom during commercial breaks. Before there was a pause, live TV seemed more real. If you missed the newest episode, who was to say if you’d ever get to see it again? Then all your friends at school would be talking about the show while you frantically captured every moment second-hand from their stories.

Don’t press pause.

I used to play a lot of video games. Oh, who am I kidding, I still play a lot of video games. I set up camp in the middle of the floor, right in front of the TV and load up my newest obsession. Those LA murders aren’t going to solve themselves, Cole (L.A. Noire). The dragons aren’t going to keel over on their own (Skyrim). Who’s going to save the world from darkness if it’s not you, Sora? (Kingdom Hearts). But when dinner is ready or the dogs need to be walked, it’s time to stop. Reality calls. Unless…unless you can’t pause. The cutscene won’t end, and even though the wife really wants to watch her show while eating lunch, I can’t miss this scene or the plot won’t make sense. Even though I need to leave for that meeting, I can’t stop in the middle of the boss fight or I’ll lose the last 20 minutes of “work” I put in and have to do it all over again. “You can’t pause this game, mom” is a phrase that came from my mouth quite a few times growing up. 

Don’t press pause.

As a pastor’s kid, I’ve moved my fair share of times. If I’m counting right, it’s about 13 (excluding trips to and from college between semesters). Texas to Indiana to Texas to Virginia to Maryland, and quite a few trips to different regions in those places as well. I like to think I’ve become adept at putting things on hold before a move. I can’t volunteer to be at that event, because it’s too close to moving day and I need to be packing. It’s time to put gaming night on hold while someone else takes over leading, since I can’t be in charge anymore. I’d love to build a relationship with that new guy at work, but the goodbye is that much harder when I leave the state in 3 weeks, so let’s just put it on hold.

Don’t press pause.

I know it’s easy to do right now. Pastor Mitch has retired, and while Pastor Elijah is doing a spectacular job of shepherding us, maybe it’s just easier to put the projects on hold. Why start anything new when we’ll have another pastor soon? They might change things anyway, or we’ll have to explain it all to them. Or maybe they’ll bring some great new idea about a project, but we’re tied up in this other thing so we can’t start it.

The quarantine is still going on. It’s hard to find a way to do this thing or that if I can’t even talk to someone. Once this is all over, it’ll be easier to join in, or start that new initiative.

Or me. I’m the new Missions & Engagement Coordinator. Isn’t it my job to do the mission-ing? Why do I need you to do something? And if you don’t engage, well I probably did a bad job at picking something exciting, or I scheduled it when you’ve got that other thing that you just couldn’t reschedule. Or you’re just not feeling it right now, maybe some other time. 

Don’t press pause. 

Yes, we’re in a transition period between pastors. That’s all the more reason to be active! How exciting will it be when the Spirit leads a new pastor to our congregation, and they see the wonderful things that we’re doing in God’s kingdom? If they have new ideas, great! We’ll build them in, or reframe our programs to build them even better! Pastor Elijah is not an excuse to put things on hold, he’s a blessing to us and a leader in this time. Some congregations aren’t able to have an interim pastor. Imagine how much more we can get done because we do! Let’s partner with Pastor Elijah and enable him to use his gifts and abilities to further the mission and vision of the congregation.

Don’t press pause.

Yes, the quarantine has made life different. It’s harder to do our “normal” church ministry. Does that mean we give up? Certainly not! We look for new opportunities! We find ways to spread the message! We engage with others (at appropriate distances)! We give, even when money’s tight. We participate, even if the project doesn’t seem our style. We serve in any way we can while keeping others healthy and safe. We pray, constantly and fervently, for strength, for healing, for a cure.  We worship, even when separated physically. We evangelize, in any way we can! We persevere! 

Don’t press pause.

And me? I can’t do it all for you. Just now, when I feel like I’m getting my feet beneath me, we are faced with unprecedented trials. I’ve got ideas on how we can engage with each other, with our neighbors, with those that need help. I want your ideas, your theories, your plans. I’ve got thoughts on mission, how to live out our faith as people of Good Sam, and how we can use our gifts to give back to God. I want your opinions, your projects, your passions. But I can’t do it alone. 

I need you. I need a congregation that wants to live missionally. I need a congregation that wants to love God and others. I need a congregation that is willing to go along with this plan, to see how God can use us in this world. I need you to help with missions. I need you to engage. 

I need you not to press pause on the work Good Sam is doing in the world. I need you not to pause your part in it. It might not be easy. In fact, it’s probably going to be hard. Uncomfortable. Awkward. Annoying. But don’t press pause. Your job is to spread God’s word; your duty is to show His love. As Pastor Philip Lange said, “This duty is not transferable.” You can’t pass it on to me, and I can’t do it without you. I’m here to help, but in exchange, I need one favor:

Don’t press pause.

PB&J

(Peace, Blessings, & Joy)

Kelsey Knobloch

Missions & Engagement Coordinator