SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Some Americans feel understandably restless as they maintain social distance to protect themselves and their communities from the spread of the coronavirus. Pastor Lynn Bryson has a message for them.
LYNN BRYSON: There is a blessing, I believe, coming from this social distancing. We can spend more time individually in contemplation, quiet time. I'm already counting the blessing that I've had that I don't have to be always public or in the office, or I don't have to be out and about. I can actually spend more time, without any guilty conscience, quietly reflective.
SIMON: Lynn Bryson is pastor of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho. And today, he'll start livestreaming services to his nearly 300 congregants, many of whom will watch alone, isolated in their homes. The pastor says he's learned to value quiet and being still after two near-death experiences he had when he was a young man.
BRYSON: Thirty-four years ago, I was in a plane crash - a small plane crash on a trip to Mexico, a mission trip. I was 24 years old at the time. The plane was coming down, and the pilot said, tighten your seatbelts; we're going to crash. Then we finally hit the ground, and we all survived, but I broke my back. I was paralyzed from the waist down. They said I would never walk again.
A year and a half after the plane crash, I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. I was still in recovery and learning to walk. And actually, facing brain surgery was scarier than facing the plane crash. In the plane crash, we only had minutes to react. With the brain surgery, I had to think about it for weeks and months at a time preparing for that.
So those were the beginning moments. My faith was being tested to the nth degree at age 24. And I guess I learned to be grateful. Not only was I learning to walk again, but learning that I could trust God and that my brain tumor was - it didn't kill me. When I woke up off the surgery table, I was just shocked I was awake.
There's a quotation by a Christian author I'm always encouraged by. They wrote this - that we need only fear the future as we forget how God has led us in the past. And that has reminded me to hold on and trust him.
I still have times of anxiety. You know, we're all humans. We all worry at things. And then I'm reminded, Lynn, you've been through this. Calm down. Relax. Trust the Lord. It's not going to be this way forever.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SIMON: Lynn Bryson, pastor of the Twin Falls Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.