If you haven’t seen Stranger Things, it is part coming of age story and part creepy sci-fi adventure centering around a group of middle schoolers in Hawkins, Indiana in 1983. For anyone who grew up in the 80’s, it is a total trip down nostalgia lane. Needless to say, we were hooked after the first episode. As the first season progresses (don’t worry, no spoilers here), the group of friends slowly begin to realize that their reality is not the only reality, and that, after this strange series of events, their lives will never be the same. As I look back on pictures of this night, my first thought was, “wow, that was life before.” We had people in our house, we were standing close together, no one is masked, and our biggest worry was if we had enough snacks for everyone. That time was before…
All of us who are living in and living through 2020 probably have a clear memory of the moment when reality shifted—when the line of living before the pandemic and living in the pandemic was drawn. For me, it was sitting in the theater at Wydown Middle School watching some of our youth ministry students perform in the musical Matilda. Matilda was the last event I attended before everything changed. During the next week, reality would shift, masks would become part of my daily wardrobe, and I would become glued to news updates about the burgeoning crisis.
Now that we have all been living in the midst of this new reality for eight months, you, like me, are probably very ready for “the after.” Ready to embrace family without fear of infection, ready to stop looking at maps of covid hot spots around the country, and ready to gather fully and closely for worship. Obviously, we do not know when “the after” might come, but we know it is coming. Our God is faithful. He has shown us this reality time and again. It will not always be this way. We must keep walking and believing and trusting—not living in “the upside down,” but living in between the “already and the not yet.”
“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” Hebrews 10:23