The current pandemic has brought out all sorts of things that most of the population never thought about before our current issues with the coronavirus. We have never really thought of social distancing and the prospect of changing the way that we run our lives for the foreseeable future – perhaps even permanently.
Hotel volume is down drastically and there are thousands of restaurants across the country that will never re-open. There is even the case in Dallas of a beauty salon owner who started her business back up again in violation of an order prohibiting her to open prior to this week-end. Somehow, she was arrested for the violation. There was a public outcry and although I didn’t hear the details, she was released from prison today and spoke with the press about her incarceration. When asked why she violated the order, she said that in her mind she didn’t have a choice – she couldn’t financially provide for her family and had to open her shop to pay her bills at home.
That is the kind of desperation that many folks are facing. The world is changing faster than we can imagine. And we don’t know what to do with that… People who own dining establishments can’t survive on 50% occupancy and people who are on unemployment really don’t want to give up their huge extra payouts from the government during this time. This means that many businesses won’t be able to open because they can’t get the help they need. It is a real conundrum.
On top of all this, we have the sanitation issues to deal with. The constant cleaning and periodic closings to make sure that surfaces are devoid of the virus are becoming a way of life. A huge number of offices have closed down and people are dealing with virtual work environments. Zoom, a relatively popular video conferencing software, has gone from 2 million users to something in excess of 300 million users as a result of allowing free signup and conferencing for as long as 40 minutes. Longer than that and paid subscriptions are required.
Kids in school are using Zoom for their class activities and virtual choirs with hundreds of voices are being formed around the globe to take advantage of this new technology – delivering hauntingly beautiful songs for the rest of us to listen to. The virtual environment, while still in its infancy, is definitely here to stay. In fact, I have been working from home for almost 20 years and I wouldn’t go back to working in an office if I could avoid it.
Of course, there are those of us who have worked at home for years, but the rate of increase in this type of interaction is exponential and is creating another issue that it seems nobody ever thought of. And that is that commercial real estate sales are on the decline. Office buildings are getting harder to sell and rent – after all, most of us are getting along very well working from home. And employers are starting to think about why they need to have offices after all. Retail places may be exempt from closing their locations, at least by choice, but many offices are really doing well with remote interactions in virtual team settings. In the trade, we call this a “distributed” team environment. And even so, Amazon and likeminded electronic storefronts are growing every year.
Yes, it takes some getting used to, but it is far less expensive than paying all that rent and having to furnish thousands of square feet of space. Employers who were afraid to let their people work from home have been forced into it and you what – it’s working! So what is the world going to look like 10 or 20 years in the future. And that brings us to God…
Are we going to try and find a faster, easier theology – or substitute something for the real thing? Will we all attend virtual church forever rather than go back to brick and mortar buildings? Will classrooms and schools embrace a virtual environment and make the physical classroom even more obsolete? I hope not… because there is a social aspect that we are missing.
What about all the kids who are graduating this year and are having drive-by parades to celebrate their achievement? The same is happening for birthday parties and social media is awash with stories about the stress of kids who can’t interact the way that they would like… So what do we do with all this?
We cling to God, that’s what! Because no matter what else changes in the world, God never changes. Our verse for tonight, from Revelation 1:8, tells us, in the words of Jesus, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” My encouragement this evening is that God wants us to know that we can depend on Him – from the beginning to the end – and everything in between. My prayer is that we will continue to cling to God and trust Him to get through this in the best way possible. Because one thing is for sure – many things are changing, but not God. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…