Some people may have noticed that the style and design of the website has changed recently. We have had the current website design for nearly 6 years and the template on which it was built has become obsolete, leading to problems loading pictures. It was time for a new design and new approach.
As I’ve thought about it, I can see parallels with life at the moment. In order to update the website, I needed to research alternative designs and work out what would work best for our site as we have a considerable number of pages (303 at the last count!). I then had to work through the site to ensure that each page works with the new design, making adjustments where necessary. I found the most challenging part was when I clicked ‘publish’ for the site to go live, hoping that nothing would be lost in the process. The thought of having to recover or rebuild a lost site didn’t bear thinking about!
This morning I received an email from the Chief Executive of Suffolk Libraries, along with other members of staff, regarding the way forward for library services when the lock-down is eased, which made me stop and think. It contained the phrase ‘The way we deliver our services will never be the same again but … that is not just a challenge but an opportunity.’ I have worked in or alongside libraries for nearly 40 years and suddenly, over the last 6 weeks, I have been faced with the prospect of learning and adapting to new ways of working, some of which will be with us for a long time and some changes which may become permanent. I’ve learnt how to engage with social media and develop online content (including recording myself reading stories to children in my pyjamas to upload to Facebook!). Contact with our elderly and vulnerable customers is currently being made over the phone and we’re thinking through how to provide computer access and books to customers who are desperately missing our services.
For most of us life has changed and is unrecognisable to the lifestyles we enjoyed and took for granted even a few months ago. There is a dawning realisation that life won’t be the same again and that presents both challenges and opportunities. Even when lock-down is lifted life will be different and we will live with the repercussions of Covid-19. There are people who have lost loved ones, lost livelihoods and incomes, alongside the disappointments of cancelled celebrations and time separated from those we love.
Going back to the website analogy we have all had to determine what works for us in our individual situations during lock-down, for some how to work from home, how to educate children, staying connected to family and friends whilst living in isolation and how to be church in the current situation. At the beginning of lock-down I read Psalm 40:2, ‘He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.’ (NLT) The Lord is that solid ground that we stand on even when all the parameters of life which we previously relied upon have changed. Over the last 6 weeks I have found a pattern of living which works for me, making adjustments when necessary and talking different situations and challenges through as they’ve arisen. It is that knowledge that God is the rock beneath my feet which enables me to do that and I love the phrase in the New Living Translation ‘He … steadied me as I walked along’ – that has been my experience during lock-down so far and I have confidence that the Lord will continue to ‘steady my feet’ as we move forward into new challenges.
There are now increasing news reports and speculation about how and when lock-down will be eased and how people will be able to return to work safely. Working in a public library will look very different than it did before 20th March when we shut our doors to the public. However, we will take the new skills and experiences learnt during lock-down with us which will hopefully enhance future services.
Thankfully when I clicked ‘publish’ the site was still all there and working! As we move forward into new challenges, be they the disappointment of the continuation of the current lock-down or a transition to different patterns of living and working, the Lord will still be with us steadying our steps, provided we stay close to him.
As I’ve listened again to the recordings of the Sunday talks and Bible studies on the website, I’ve been reflecting on what the Lord has been saying to me personally and to us as a church during this time. Those principles which Tim has shared of going deeper with the Lord in order to be able to respond appropriately in life are so important as we go forward, to be filled with the Spirit and to know God’s will and calling for our lives will carry us through whatever challenges we will face and equip us for the opportunities that present themselves to us in future weeks and months. As I’ve written this the song ‘Faithful One’ by Robin Mark has kept coming to mind so I’ve shared the words below – they speak for themselves!
Faithful One, So unchanging, Ageless One, You're my rock of peace, Lord of all, I depend on You. I call out to You, Again and again. You are my Rock, ln times of trouble You lift me up, When I fall down All through the storm, Your love is the anchor My hope is in You alone.