We are well over a month into this “new normal” of practicing social distancing and spending most of our time in our homes, rather than rushing around one activity, work commitment, social outing, or errand run to another.
Prior to this unprecedented halt in our daily routines, our American life could be described by one common expression: I’m just so busy.
I realize that not all of us feel like it’s a vacation being at home, still trying to work, while at the same time some of you are taking care of children and trying to make sure they are doing their school work. Others are trying to now homeschool. Quarantining is not stressless, and it's not a walk in the park to juggle all the hats you wear at home without the help of the community.
Looking on the bright side, there is a good chance your family is enjoying free evenings, open weekends. Your calendars are more open than they have ever been. Vacations are canceled, sports are on hold, and sadly even visits with the family have had to be redefined or canceled altogether.
I'm a Christian and believe the scripture that says God works everything for good for those who love Him.
Romans 8:28-30 NLT And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
God, in His Word, makes it clear that he is present and wanting to speak to us.
He is not in the thunder, earthquake, or wind but in the still small voice.
1 Kings 19:12 NLT And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.
While I don’t believe God’s best plan for us includes things like pandemics, the noise level has been turned way down. With noise level turned down we have the opportunity to finally hear God speaking.
Now we have time to dive into the Word of God. Now is the perfect time to hear what God wants to say to you personally in this moment. This is a chance to stop and open our hearts. If we aren’t careful, the moment the restrictions to our daily life are lifted, the noise will rush back in and busy will be our new normal again whether we like it or not.
How do we decide what we want or what we should allow back into our lives once our routines normalize again? Despite what our culture loves to shout at us, we now see that we can, and perhaps should, survive on less.
We'll be okay without participating in every activity. We can still love our friends and neighbors without filling up every weekend with social gatherings. Our careers can continue, even with some days when we work at home with all the distractions.
We don’t have to say “yes” to everything and what may surprise us is that our lives are not better for having filled every open second with tasks, productivity, and commitments.
We can better hear God when the noise level of our lives is quieted to a healthy level.
Here are some things to think about as you think about as you consider what you should allow back into your routine as we walk through this strange season of isolation.
We’ve all had to miss some things in this season. It could be as simple as changed Easter plans or as serious as a lost loved one. This pandemic has affected everyone in one way or another. We should allow ourselves to be sad over our losses. Grieving over losses is healthy and necessary.
Identifying what we miss most can help shed light on what commitments and people were truly adding value to your life. If there's something that you really missed because it was canceled then it probably added meaningful value to your life.
Things or relationships that you feel relieved to have had “taken away” may not be worth adding back to the mix.
Think and pray about the things that you really want to remain in your life after restrictions are lifted.
2. What have you gained through this quarantine?
When the shutdown started it was really hard to see anything positive coming from our lives being so abruptly shut down. As the shock has worn off , there are some silver linings. It could be slow starts to the day, free evenings, it could be a brisk walk in the morning or evening, or it could just be a greater appreciation for the delivery person, the cashier at the grocery or drug store.
Think about what we used to call the little mundane things like hugging your loved ones, and spending time with them. Even going to stores without anxiety.
3. What has this hardship revealed about your faith?
Psalms 66:10 NLT You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver.
Going through this season filled with anxiety and uncertainty is for sure one of those faith refining moments!
Has the chaos in the world pushed you closer to God? Has it revealed ways you were depending solely on your ability to keep your life together?
Was the noise of your days pushing God to the “back burner”? Have these events brought up questions about your faith or eternal destination?
Has it brought to your mind lost family or friends who don’t have the hope of Jesus to anchor them through this storm?
God does not waste our pain. He can use this time to “refine us” if our hearts are open.
1 Peter 1:6-7 NLT So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
Take time to ponder where you are at with God. Despite not being able to meet in church buildings, God is still present in our lives.
He is not limited by the walls of church and can do great things on your behalf even while stuck home!
Acts of the Apostles 17:24-26 NLT “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
This season is like a family pressure cooker, truly bringing to light both the strengths and weaknesses of our family units. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t like all that you see!
Our busy lives can blind or at least distract us from issues that need to be addressed in our homes. This pause together is a chance to evaluate the trajectory of your family life.
Even the conflict you may have experienced through this transition can be a chance to grow and change.
Pray over the good, bad, and in-betweens you’ve experienced while living in much closer proximity to your loved ones. Do you see ways your kids' attitudes need to change?
Have you noticed that your patience needs a boost? (I’m pretty sure every parent has noticed this). Do you see the benefits of more protected, family only time?
Are there ways you and your spouse are processing this differently that you both need to learn from?
Don’t shy away from the revelations this season is bringing. Pay attention to what needs to change and lean into your people while you have the time.
Let the adjustments you make now inform your routine that emerges as we pick back up our lives in the months to come.
Don’t miss out on this chance to grow, heal, change, and come out stronger as a family.
5. What are the desires of your heart for your future?
Busy means doing what has to be done but it doesn’t necessarily mean we are doing what we want to be doing.
Psalms 37:3-4 NLT Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord , and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Life is filled with obligations and while that will never entirely go away this is a rare chance to evaluate your life like you’ve never done before.
Prayerfully consider if God has a new path, a new normal, or a new dream for your heart. It doesn’t have to be super dramatic; even slight changes in that reflect Jesus can make big impacts on your future.
It could be as simple as emerging from this time with a renewed sense of thankfulness for the things you had in your life and returning to them with heightened passion.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
This is a chance to trust God like never before. None of us can fully wrap our heads around how the whole world could come to a screeching halt over this invisible threat.
As we begin the process of reentering society we have the chance to “submit all our ways to him” and the exciting part of all of this is that God promises that as we surrender our lives to Him in a new way He will “make our paths straight.”
The bottom line: We can trust God with our future and this grand pause is an invitation to surrender all you have back to Him in a fresh way.