By Kim Longden
I remember a year ago sitting with my Bible study group praying for those in the world who were facing the coronavirus. Unbeknownst to us as we prayed for “them” over “there,” we would soon be included in the “they” being affected. Just a couple short weeks later, as everything shut down, we received notification that the Bible study class our group was part of would not be meeting in-person, but would now be meeting on Zoom.
Meeting on what? I had vaguely heard of Zoom as some sort of group FaceTime thing—and since FaceTime was something I never felt comfortable using, I decided I would sit this one out. Since it would only be for a couple of weeks anyway, I figured I would jump back in when in-person meetings resumed…
As the day of our weekly discussion got closer, though, I started to feel a nudge that maybe I should give this Zoom thing a try. Friends had posted on Facebook that they were continuing to meet in groups online and I was encouraged. Maybe meeting together was more important than my discomfort with video communication. So I downloaded the Zoom app and, when the time came, nervously logged on.
I was surprised at how much of a relief it was to see the faces of these ladies I had grown close to in Christ! We all laughed as we tried to figure out what in the world we were doing. Does that green square around my picture mean everyone can hear my kids yelling in the next room? What is mute? Do you hear that echo? Do I really talk with my hands that much? It was not ideal, but it was truly a blessing to connect in this imperfect way and discuss our unchanging God during a time when the world was changing in disorienting ways.
This “being-thrown-into-Zoom” experience is one many of us share. I have a love-hate relationship with Zoom, but overall I am amazed looking back over the past year at how the Spirit has used this tool to make God’s Word go out and bind us together in this isolating time.
Just like everything else last spring, the “only two weeks on Zoom” for my Bible study class stretched into months. As we approached the summer break for our meetings, I got the familiar nudge to try to host some kind of Bible study in my own context over the summer. I’ve hosted a couple times in the distant past, but most summers the logistics of: Would my house be clean enough? What about the kids? Should I serve food? Drinks? And all my other “Martha” worries talked me out of hosting Bible studies at home.
This summer was different, though, now that I had Zoom skills and social distancing was keeping everyone homebound. In fact, the only thing I’d have to worry about was the actual Bible part of hosting a Bible study. Sign me up! And so began a summer of leading studies in which I was able to talk about God’s Word with ladies near and far as we connected in our little Zoom squares. Kids in the background, house a mess, grocery-stocked or not—God’s Word could go forth!
Many times I have marveled over this technology which has kept us connected in Christ—and without masks! We can all see each other’s smiling faces as we laugh, cry, and wonder over God’s Word!
Zoom fatigue is a real thing, especially when it’s being used all day every day. Almost a year in, I sense a collective feeling of being “Zoomed-out.” At the same time, I look back and see that this way of connecting has also been a silver lining during this challenging year. God invites us to gather together to build each other up, and we have been able to do so in this creative way—thanks be to God!
I wonder what one-year-ago-me would think if she saw current me going down to my little corner of the basement and hanging curtains to brighten things up and cover the laundry chute and ductwork. She had no idea that this area would be transformed into a Zoom Room—a space that has become in many ways a comfort during such a weird time of life. In this room several ladies gather together on-screen each week in the name of Jesus, and I know He is there also—who would’ve thought?
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
Matthew 18:20 (NIV)
As we look forward to getting back to “normal” with more options of meeting in-person on the horizon, I’m prayerfully re-thinking all of the things that stopped me from hosting in-person Bible studies in the past. Does it matter if my house is immaculate, or if I have the right snacks, or if my kids are perfectly behaved? Maybe part of walking with Christ together is inviting people into my messy life.
On the flip side, the ability to connect with people on Zoom (near and far!) in seasons when these logistics seem overwhelming is also very exciting. No matter the season of life, we don’t have to give up meeting together! Having different gathering options has opened up possibilities I had never imagined before being forced out of my comfort zone last year.
As difficult as leaving my comfort zone was, I’m thankful for God’s faithfulness and provision. I’m thankful we found creative ways to stay connected to each other, and to Jesus—in our Zoom Rooms!