In June, writers and editors of ReFrame Media’s Today daily devotional already have 2021 on their minds.
The nine months of lead time that it takes to write, edit, print, and mail more than 200,000 devotional booklets means a lot can change by the time the devotions are published. Still, God has a way of bringing the right message at the right time through his providence.
That was especially true when Bret Lamsma was writing devotions for May 2020 back in August 2019. Months before the Covid-19 pandemic, he chose the theme of community for a time when many people would be yearning to find ways to stay connected to their communities while being physically apart.
Lamsma, a pastor at First CRC in Denver, Colorado, offered readers examples of and lessons about the variety of communities we read about throughout the Bible. Some of these lessons were particularly poignant.
“As our idea of community broadens and grows, God will bring people to us from all areas of life,” Lamsma wrote in a devotional for May 17 based on Isaiah 2.
The devotion’s relevant theme spoke to people like Maressa.
“I so enjoyed the series on community,” Maressa shared. “Every day struck a chord with me, letting me know that I am not alone in this time of isolation.”
Lamsma also heard from several people who were reading the messages.
“Community has always been important to me but I wrote the devotionals having no idea that community would look so different,” said Lamsma. “It was such a humbling month to see how God used something that I wrote in such incredible ways.”
As online Today readers were reading Lamsma's devotionals, they also had a special opportunity to practice what they were learning about the importance of community.
Today invited its email subscribers to send encouraging messages to their fellow devotional readers in China.
“In China and other parts of the world where believers live in isolation all the time, online communities are especially important,” read the invitation.
More than 100 people responded with messages that were then passed along through Back to God Ministries International’s Chinese ministry team.
“As I read the email, so many thoughts and tears flooded my heart,” an online reader named Rhonda said. In response, she shared a message for readers in China:
“Until the last 8 weeks, I have not been in isolation in my walk with God,” Rhonda wrote. “As you are in isolation, stay close to God because he will never leave you. I'm praying for God's blessing and safety on all my brothers and sisters in Christ in China. God loves you even in difficult times and so do I!”