“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow. Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here.
It’ll be, better than before. Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.”
 
These lyrics from an old Fleetwood Mac song call us to let go of yesterday and look forward to tomorrow. While most of us are trying to do just that in the season of Covid-19, it is getting through our todays that proves to be the challenge. And what day is it? As a friend of mine recently noted, “I think it is April, the 38th.” The days do run together. 
 
We have adjusted to online worship. We are becoming efficient at Zoom. We are learning to celebrate health care workers in hospitals and nursing homes. We are meeting new neighbors as we walk our neighborhoods. We are playing games, working jigsaw puzzles, cleaning out closets and attics, working in the yard. We are enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of spring; and they are delightful.
 
But we have also seen the images of caskets in mass graves in New York. We all know someone who has died, but because of social distancing, we have not yet been able to pay our respects at a memorial service. Students of every age from elementary to college are adapting to distance learning, as are the devoted teachers who teach them. Graduations are cancelled. Sports have disappeared. No proms. No gathering for worship. No haircuts. No coffee shop conversations. And no certainty as to when tomorrow will be normal.
 
A Methodist minister friend in London, Leslie Griffiths, said recently, “What dystopic days we are living through. I can’t wait to build a future with lessons learned from this mess.”
 
I wonder what lessons we will learn in the church and in our personal lives? Or if we will learn anything at all?
 
Across the years I encountered several married couples whose relationship was in trouble. Often one of them would say something like, “I just want it to be like it used to be.” My response to that was always, “Not good enough. If your relationship is like it used to be, then you will end up here again. Your goal needs to be to make the relationship better than it has ever been.” As the song says, “better than before”.
 
This does not happen automatically. It takes hard work to make things even better than they were. To complicate matters even further, none of us knows when or even how we will begin to approach normal once again. Many experts have rolled out plans for “reopening society” as we know it. No two plans are the same. Some have a short time line, while others stretch well in to 2021. So as good as it may be to contemplate tomorrow, how do we live today…right now?
 
While there are many people still working full time and overtime, for many of us, we have a lot of time on our hands. Even old movies and TV reruns get old. Organizing family photos can only take so long. For me it has come down to a new kind of routine. 
 
First, I pray more intentionally than perhaps I ever have. While I have always prayed for others, I now pray for both my wife and myself. We are in our 70s with some underlying health issues. The whole thing is scary for folks like us. But, as I noted in a recent sermon, “When faith and fear collide, faith has something to say to fear.” 
 
Second, and almost by accident, I have begun to reconnect with people with whom I have not spoken in years. Just this week, I talked with two old elementary school friends. I talked to a man from a church where I served as a youth minister in the late 70s. We had not spoken in 40 years. So, every day I call someone from my past. A former classmate or college buddy. A business associate or former church member. The phone has become my best friend. 
 
Third, I try to write at least three notes or letters a week to people who have meant something special to me in my life. Sometimes they are handwritten, while others are via email or Messenger. The point is that it is good to express gratitude for those who have nurtured us along the way. 
 
Fourth, every day I read. Fifth, every day I write. And sixth, every day I exercise. And when this is all over, my prayer is that I will hold on to all of these disciplines, because they are blessing my soul today; and I believe they will bless my tomorrows.
 
So, as we live through these “dystopic days”, what might you or your congregation consider doing today so that your tomorrows might be “better than before”?
Mike Queen
A native of West Virginia, Mike Queen, has served churches in North Carolina the last 36 years. Recently retired after twenty-five years as pastor at First Baptist Church in Wilmington, NC, Mike, along with his colleague Jayne Davis, has founded a ministry of encouragement called Hopeful Imagination to work with traditional churches dedicated to finding God’s way in a changing world. Mike and Bobbie, his wife of 45 years, live in Wilmington and they have continued their ministry by serving as interim pastor in other NC churches. He is a consultant for CHC and a co-coordinator for CHC-Carolinas.