So we are into our second week of “temporary isolation,” and already the culture is molding into a new normal. The ads coming onto my screen have shifted from Easter outfits to cozy pajamas for staying home. Recipes in my inbox are all about comfort food and using pantry staples. People who have been too busy pursuing life to stop and chat are suddenly sending texts and Friend requests as if they would love nothing better than to catch up. The jokes keep getting better. And we finally have the time to watch our favorite TV series on Netflix, paint the living room, or learn to crochet.
It’s strange how a crisis will bring out both the worst and the best in people. I think every one of us wrestles with anxiety… feels the gnawing uncertainty of the future. And maybe it is easy to think of our own family’s needs and risks as being most pressing. But it’s not all bad. If this pushes us to pray more about where we are, and depend on God, then we are a step ahead of where we were a month ago. If this causes us to appreciate family and friends more, or to engage in deeper conversations with others, then we are growing into a healthier and better place. If our hearts go out to others and the burdens they are bearing, whether financial or physical or emotional, and we extend ourselves toward those needs, then we are learning how to be the hands and feet of Christ in real life. If this separation from all our everyday pursuits allows time for families to work together and play together and talk about serious life issues together, then are we not building stronger homes in our togetherness? It seems that distancing from our busy lives and personal pursuits might give us a nudge to draw closer to the relationships that really matter.
As I listen to different voices speak about the current crisis over the past week, the contrasts are striking. Voices of alarm and anxiety. Voices of wisdom and hope. There is beauty in hearing the Family of God giving thanks, in hearing their words of encouragement and appreciation to one another, in expressing love and unity and a desire to serve. And what if this is how we grow into who God wants us to be? This very situation and how we respond to it can be the cultivating fertile ground of the next level of growth in our faith. Maybe it really is all a matter of distance– and I’m thinking the safest place to be right now is as close to the Good Shepherd as possible. I can hear the promise written down for us: “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (James 4:8) He is always right there, as close as my next breath– it is me that must practice opening my eyes to see Him at work…slowing down enough to pay attention…being quiet and still to hear His voice.
That’s one thing that has not changed: We can always have more of Jesus, if we are willing to pay the price. Because saying yes to one thing always means saying no to something else, and I get to choose what I want more. So in this time of saying no to so many things, let me say yes to His doing a new and deeper thing in my life. And help me seek out the certain things He has for me to do in this strange new season of life.
What we think, how we feel, our motives, and both the large and microscopic choices that make up our days are the environment the Spirit’s work is planted in. When the environment is right, the fruit of the Spirit grows. We are asked, even commanded, to cultivate a place where the Spirit of God remains.Heath Adamson
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Colossians 3:12-17