The Proverbial Rock And A Hard Place

Sometimes life offers a choice between two options, neither of which is attractive. We call this being “between a rock and a hard place.”

This is where the coronavirus has placed us, especially concerning our fellowship and worship. We continued to assemble at Centreville until it was apparent to the elders that the scales had tipped against meeting. This was due to a global and national increase of viral infections (and the growing drumbeat that things would only get much worse), more strident warnings and restrictions by the authorities, and overall concern for the influence of the congregation in our community should the worst happen (which we are witnessing with churches that defied bans on meeting and, consequently, spread the virus). Our reluctance to discontinue meeting was reinforced by our commitment to carry out God’s will if at all possible, for we respect that will and we know how spiritually vital it is to fellowship each other. Continuing to meet in the face of mounting concerns became the rock.

The hard place was actually cancelling our assemblies. It was hard enough to contemplate such a radical action when it first appeared to be a two-Sunday layoff. After all, according to my records we only completely cancelled Sunday worship twice in the past 13 years (due to snow in 2010 and 2016). But then two Sundays became six, and six became twelve.

This is a hard place because not being together on a regular basis invites discouragement, neglect, distraction and discord. The things we do together are designed by God for our spiritual benefit. To suspend them, albeit for legitimate reasons, makes us vulnerable. Mark and I did not want to subject the congregation to this, for our role as shepherds involves seeking the best for the flock – feeding, protecting and leading to “greener pastures.”

So, what do we do when we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place?

We pray for wisdom and guidance; we consult God’s word; we seek advice; we try to anticipate the outcome of each alternative. And then we make the best decision possible while accepting the fallout. We then try to manage it in order to mitigate the damage.

Moses faced a couple of “rock and hard place” decisions  first the choice to leave Pharaoh’s palace and favor and identify with the Israelites, and then the decision to return to Egypt and lead Israel to freedom. His first decision brought unexpected rejection and failure; his second brought 40 years of frustration and hardship. The first he tried to do on his own. The second he resisted because he had lost all his original self-confidence.

But Moses eventually surrendered to God’s will based on His promise: “I will certainly be with you” (Ex. 3:12).

Life with God can be a wilderness journey at times. But life without God, though in the palace of Pharaoh or the seclusion of Midian, is completely meaningless. Brethren, let us go forward in faith that we are God’s people and that He will guide us between the rock and the hard place.