Do Not Fear, God is With You

By Ray Hendriks  |  March 23rd

It was just over a week ago when the news broke that Ontario’s publicly-funded schools would be closed, and Edvance recommended the same for our affiliate schools. That began a flurry—or more accurately, a blizzard—of activity. Suddenly, there was a whole list of new questions to be considered regarding school operations. People rose to the challenge with advice and assistance. It poured in from everywhere. Many new meetings were held virtually, while less-urgent meetings were postponed or cancelled. In some cases, solutions were found where previously there were voids. Education now looks radically different than it did just a fleeting ten days ago. And now that March Break is over, we are getting ready for what this week and beyond will bring.

This weekend, overwhelming feelings related to the relentlessness of the pandemic finally took hold of me. These feelings exhibit themselves in ways that I don’t much care for, which made matters even worse. Someone close to me recognized the signs and suggested that singular self-isolation in the car by the lakeshore would be a good idea (for both of us)—as usual she was right!

While I profess to be neither a prophet or an expert, my spirit (and the media around me) tells me this new reality is just getting started—the unknown greater than the known. I hear pundits starting to speak of monumental organizational change and that now is the time to “reset”. This is difficult when the situation changes daily, as we tensely wait, wondering what pronouncement today might undo the decisions of yesterday. How do we build something solid for tomorrow on the shifting sands of today? It is in midst of this that leaders are looked to, to provide strong, decisive, knowledgeable, and wise leadership.

As I watch from my vantage point at Edvance, I am impressed with the interactions of you as school leaders. You have shown an adaptability and nimbleness required in these times. You have asked, and answered, the initial difficult questions, and are wrestling with additional decisions that will need to be made. This week will bring many opportunities to lead the school wisely, as the effects of the dramatic decisions to protect our society begin to affect individual households.

So, in all of this, what do we take hold of? Where do we find our strength? Yes, we will continue to work together to find solutions; yes, we will rely on the expertise that God has given at this time; yes, we will meet together regularly to support and update and learn—all of this is incredibly important.

But in the midst of all this activity and angst, let me remind you of something you know well already. Do not fear! A favourite author of mine, John Oortberg, says that this (“Do not fear” or “Fear not”) is the most repeated phrase in scriptures. According to his count, it appears 365 times—once for every day of the year. Just when we might feel overwhelmed or frozen by fear of what lies before us, God speaks to us daily, saying “fear not”. And He doesn’t leave us there; there is more.

As I have listened to messages from a number of leaders of Christian organizations in the last few days, they all begin with encouragements of God’s unfailing power, His presence, and His faithfulness to His people at all times. I offer the same to you, via the book of Job:

God’s wisdom is so deep, God’s power so immense,
    who could take him on and come out in one piece?
He moves mountains before they know what’s happened,
    flips them on their heads on a whim.
He gives the earth a good shaking up,
    rocks it down to its very foundations.
He tells the sun, ‘Don’t shine,’ and it doesn’t;
    he pulls the blinds on the stars.
All by himself he stretches out the heavens
    and strides on the waves of the sea.
He designed the Big Dipper and Orion,
    the Pleiades and Alpha Centauri.
We’ll never comprehend all the great things he does;
    his miracle-surprises can’t be counted.
Somehow, though he moves right in front of me, I don’t see him;
    quietly but surely he’s active, and I miss it.
(Job 9, The Message)

In the same vein, many of the Psalms (23, 46, 91, 121) echo these promises. Read them over and over again. Add your favourite passages. There is something profound and reassuring for us and for our Christian School communities when we lead with reminders of God’s continuing care, His great faithfulness, His abundant love, and His deep mercy. It is so easy to forget as we get caught up in the details. Let’s remind ourselves and our communities daily.

And for you as leaders, remember the words of the Lord to Joshua in Joshua 1:9, NIV: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated), for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Go serve; go lead in His strength, as He blesses you with His presence.