Sheptock, Rudy

Pastor Rudy Sheptock.

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This pandemic caught everyone off guard. Nobody said last year that they were hoping 2020 would be known as the year we would all miss something we enjoy, children would miss their friends, athletes would miss their sports, seniors would miss their graduations, and adults would miss their jobs.

There would be no concerts, weddings, funerals, picnics, movies, restaurants, haircuts, dentists, chiropractors, school, and church services. Life is hard enough battling this coronavirus to begin with, but to have to do so without one another physically there to lean on has made this ordeal more challenging.         

Nobody misses being together more than me, but this trial is something that we are all in together. We are not being persecuted because of our color, social background, creed, or intelligence level. The virus is not picky; it will infect anyone within its greedy germs.

As a family, church, neighborhood and county, we must be willing to work together. It is going to take the prayer of all the denominations to beat this disease. Our Lord knows that it has already accomplished stealing so much life from everyone up to this point.

I have felt for the children. It is easy to simply assume they are doing well because they go along with the program, but they have feelings and just because they don’t express them as freely as adults do, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t there.

I have been asking children what they miss most, as they have had to venture through this chaos, and their number one answer is their friends.

Isolation isn't in our genes, no matter what our age may be. I have been encouraging adults to make time and take time to give the kids a chance to talk. This challenges most of us to practice another trait that we are not always great at. It's called listening, especially with our ears, eyes, and heart.

We must avoid the blame game. This isn’t the fault of Democrats or Republicans. It isn't because of New Jersey’s negligence. Just ask those in Ohio or Omaha. They, too, are facing the same stipulations and barriers that we are.

It is too easy to blame God, but remember that the Lord has made us with free will, and because of that, sin has reared its ugly head in our gardens.

Cancer doesn’t discriminate. Depression isn’t choosy. Storms ruin the plans of both those who believe and those who label themselves as atheists.

What I love about my faith is that it doesn’t abandon me when the skies get dark and life doesn’t go my way. The Lord is our Shepherd and stays with us, despite what might come upon His sheep.

Instead of being at a distance, He is in the room of the senior who appears to be dying alone. He is there, promising to redeem the brokenness and restore what this planet tried to paralyze. If ever there was a time to run in the right direction to the Lord, it is now.

As the pastor of The Lighthouse Church, our congregation will continue to be creative in the ways we worship and interact together. Thank God that the One we worship never changes and is still in charge.

Not even COVID-19 could separate us from His Love. We must refuse to live in fear and can’t allow the “what ifs” to rob us from the reality of “what is."

April has seemed to last forever. Most of us don’t know what day it is, but this, too, will pass. May is coming, and so is June, July and August. I know we will all be committed to getting Cape May County open again, even if it must be done by baby steps.

We may not always agree with those in charge, but who does? As a leader, I am used to those in the grandstands second-guessing me, thinking they could do my job. I have invited many who want my role to come and get it.

Still, when you are placed in a position to make the best decisions for others, you hope and pray that ego and pride don't get in the way of doing your best. I know in our family, we don’t always see eye to eye, but we still treat one another with love and respect. This world would brighten quicker if we would treat one another as a brother or sister, instead of enemies.

We look for what can be celebrated, even amidst a rainy parade. We applaud and give a special shout out of gratitude and appreciation to all the pastors taking care of their flocks in ways that we were never taught in Bible College. We come alongside our local policemen, government leaders, medical personnel, retail workers, postal employees, and others who are fighting this chaos together.

I don’t have to wear a mask at my job, mostly because you wouldn’t understand a word I was saying at the church or on the radio. I have seen the pictures of those who have facial marks because of the imprints those tight masks have made.

I ache for every neighbor putting themselves in harm's way every day. I also pray for all of you. If you have any personal requests or needs, please don’t hesitate to let me know. It’s hard to complain about inconveniences when you know that we are all in this together.

Lord, we collectively and corporately trust You and cry out to You on behalf of the lonely, sick, hurting, tired, depressed, and our children. Please, Lord, we humbly ask that Your will be done and Your kingdom come here, in Cape May County, as it is in heaven!

Hugs to you all. We need to keep looking up, despite what we see when we look out. I believe the best is yet to come, and we will see a treasure in all of us because we have sojourned through these unique trails together. God has blessed us, and He is not finished with us.

ED. NOTE: The author is the senior pastor of The Lighthouse Church, 1248 Route 9 South, Court House.