I find it ironic that my last post was called “Thankfulness and Toilet Paper”. Fitting. Never before have we been so thankful to have toilet paper in the cupboard! We are living in a unique time in which the virus Covid-19 has changed the way most of us live, including the way we shop for toilet paper. During this time, we have been asked by our government to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the new virus Covid-19. This presents a unique challenge for Christians in the local church as the Gospel calls us to live lives together and resist the temptation to live in isolation. So, how do we navigate these times? Scripture calls us to do all things to the glory of God (I Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17, 23). How do we practice social distancing, to the glory of God? How do we not waste this time? Here are some suggestions.
First, use the increased down time to grow in your knowledge of God’s Word. People often say they struggle to read their Bibles because they don’t have time. It will be interesting to see if those same people, who now have increased time on their hands, will indeed read their Bibles! Time in God’s Word is always crucial for the believer, but even more so in times of uncertainty. We desperately need the perspective God’s Word gives us on who He is, who we are, and where history is going. Psalm 119 states, “My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your Word”(28) and “This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your Word has given me life”(50) and “Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction.”(92).
Second, take the time to pray. Pray for one another. Pray for your family. Pray for the Lord to move in a mighty way during this time and for the Gospel to go forward. Pray for the Lord to strengthen you and take away fear or anxiety you may have (I Pet. 5:6-7). Pray for our church and ministry to continue. Pray for our missionaries who are serving in difficult conditions. Use the increased time alone to seek the Lord more diligently in prayer.
Third, be active and purposeful. If possible, don’t just sit on the couch and eat Oreos! Use this time to be out in God’s Creation, hiking, walking, or biking! God has designed us in such a way that time in His Creation is good for our souls for in Creation we see the hand of God (Psalm 19:1). Also, it is important to remember physical activity is good for our bodies. It is also a time in which you can talk with the Lord in prayer. Consider ways you can serve your family or someone else through doing a project or craft.
Fourth, take advantage of increased time with your children. At this time, schools are closed and many are home with their children. Don’t waste this special and unique opportunity! Use the time to study God’s Word with your children, read them a book, such as “The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe”, play Legos with them, or play games with them. Think about adventures you could do with them, such as visiting a historical site, hiking along a creek, or fishing in the river. This is a time when they could look back with fondness on the time the schools closed for a virus because they enjoyed special time with their parents.
Fifth, limit time on your phone and computer surfing social media and news outlets. This really won’t be a helpful and beneficial use of your time. Get the basic information you need for the day and then focus on other things. Constantly reading article after article on Covid-19 will cause your mind to constantly dwell there and miss many other important things in your life. As frustrations mount, I am seeing more and more unhelpful articles and social media posts. Remember Philippians 4:8, “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
Sixth, when you go out, go with the joy of the Lord! We are living in a time when people are really fearful. Be a light to those you come in contact with through a smile or encouragement. I was reminded of this yesterday when I went to Wal-Mart for some groceries. An elderly woman was helping me at the checkout and she commented that she told her boss that, as an elderly woman, she should be getting hazard pay. I smiled at her and just simply said, “Well, I’m glad you are here to help me!” Her response was to smile and say “Thank you!”.
Seventh, look for opportunities to share the Gospel. I have been asked a few times how our church can be a light to the community in this time. I believe the best way we can be a light is if we are sharing the hope of Christ with those who are fearful and anxious. We have the hope of Christ that leads to joy and peace! May we be faithful to share it in this time, as the Lord gives us opportunity.
Finally, if you are able, consider ways you can love and serve those at the church. Send a card, call someone to check in, Facetime someone, and pray for others. Invite someone over for lunch or for dinner, as long as both of you are comfortable with that, in regard to health. In this unique time, consider how to continue to love and minister to others.
I have seen several people from different parts of the country on Facebook asking for recommendations for shows on Netflix or Amazon to binge out on. But as Christians, we need to approach this time differently. Consider this: If Jesus were to come back in the midst of this social distancing time, what would you want Him to find you doing? Finishing episode 67 of Downton Abbey or living for His glory, loving Him and loving others? I think the answer is obvious! Let us not waste our social distancing!