I just returned from my annual family Florida vacation. The experience was different in our new COVID reality.

There was a notable discomfort with stopping for food and bathroom breaks on I-10. We wore our masks, washed our hands, kept our distance and avoided unnecessary social engagements. And while most places were practicing responsible precautions, there was that little tug in the back of my mind, of fear.

At least half of our focus on vacation is eating in a new environment, and while restaurants were open for business, and we did go out to a couple places, in general, we either didn’t eat at some of our favorite restaurants or we did take out.

Then there was the night life where we vacation with a lot of the same families each year and hang out together, but this year there were so many scheduling changes that we were there on our own. We happen to vacation in the same town I lived for three years when I was in seminary, and I have very close friends that still live in that town. While I was able to see them, and our time was great, we didn’t have a big get together like usual. I saw them in one-on-one settings, very low key, and again, while the general spirit was one of responsible decision making, there was still that slight tug in the back of my mind, of fear.

Even in the differences of the COVID environment, there was a lot of familiarity however, and a reminder that though things have changed, things have not actually changed all that much. We still had to stop for food and bathroom breaks, we still enjoyed local cuisine where we went, we still saw some old friends and had some good beach time, and as a family, we still had the vacation drama of both tears and laughter. I got to do some surfing, get some sun and play some music with my old bands.

The consistent difference that seems to have reared its ugly head in the COVID world was that little tug in the back of my mind: fear. As I reflect back on 2020, and even the years leading up to 2020, and I see the crazy broken place our nation finds itself in at the moment, I have to wonder: “Has COVID brought the fear or simply shined a light on it?”

Scripture tells us “perfect Love drives out all fear.” Our world has never suffered from an abundance of “Perfect Love” but we do suffer from a lot of fear. My prayer for myself, and our nation, and humanity, is that we can become aware of our fear, confess our fear, and step forward with faith in God, towards a perfect love that will heal us from our fears.

I pray the Holy Spirit can help us do this responsibly, and not with carelessness or a cavalier attitude, or over abundant confidence, but with a healthy fear of the Lord that draws us close to the love of Christ, which seeks to embrace all of humanity and save us from this fallen world.