People keep throwing around the word “unprecedented,” when it comes to what the world is going through right now. And I think we really need to think about that word: unprecedented. If this whole situation is unprecedented, we get to set a precedent. We get to decide what our standards are for this situation. We get to decide what our needs are, how we can help, and what everything gets to look like in this time. There is no blueprint for closing schools, and childcares, but still expecting people to work. There is no plan for continuing ministry, education, life, but not being allowed to interact with others. People are doing their best to come up with plans for our new life going forward, but we, as followers of Christ, get to set up in our homes and our relationships, a new precedent for our walk with Him.
Because there is no precedent we need to look at what we do have. We have a God who cares about us, and loves us. We also have a God who commanded us to love him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength: and secondly, love our neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39). So that is our standard, our blueprint, our precedent. In a meeting with our church leadership a few nights ago our pastor reminded us that God is not surprised by this. God knows what’s going on down here, and he also knows that he set us up with some pretty great instructions. These instructions are not just for life outside of our homes, they’re for life everywhere and always. These commands are for life during social distancing, and life per normal: love Him and love the people around us. How can we love God, and how, without actual physical contact, can we love our neighbors?
As I said in my previous blog (Do Not Grow Weary of Doing Good at Home), many of our roadblocks for time have been lifted. We don’t have social outings, extracurricular activities, or school to fill our time, so what will we fill it with? If God commands us to love him first, I think he’s calling us to do it now. Put away your phones for a minute, open up your bibles, and talk to God. Out of the 12ish hours of the day that you are awake, take half of one of those hours, and spend it with him. Put on the worship music in the background of your days. Read the Bible story to your kids. Call your friend and pray over the phone. It might be awkward, but this is our new precedent. This is our new normal. This is how we’re going to live out these days. We can choose to fill our days with Netflix, homeschooling, social media, the news, or we can choose to fill our days with Jesus.
If we start our days by giving the Lord our heart, soul, mind, and strength, than he’ll give us all of those things to last the rest of it. When we can wake up and turn over our heart, he will give us a heart to love our kids and coworkers. When we turn over our soul, we can see the good in our circumstances. When we turn over our mind then we can crowd out all of the negative voices with the voice of Jesus. And if we turn over our own strength to the Lord every day, we can depend on his strength to get through this, too. It’s not going to be easy, but if we can start with God, we can rely on him, and that is going to be enough.
And how can we love our neighbors? I will share one way, in this day and age, that we can really and truly reach out and love our neighbors: technology. Technology is such a double-edged sword these days. It can raise our anxiety, it can depress us, or it can connect us when we’re forced to socially distance for the good of our neighbors. Make the phone call, send the text, post the Bible verse. Do the thing that you might hesitate to do if you’re going to see them at the park later. Use the technology to spread the hope and peace that we know exists in Christ. If you come across a verse that has brought you comfort, share it. If you think of a friend you haven’t thought of in awhile, text them, call them. For a lot of us the only social connection we have right now is through our phones or computers. Everyone is looking at them, now more than ever, so use it to spread the truth that we know.
This time we have in front of us is unprecedented, yes, but God knew it would happen, and he prepared our hearts for it. He gave us instruction, no matter the situation, to love God and love people. So if you don’t know what your new normal looks like, start there. Set the precedent in your home and your heart that you will love God and love people, and that will be more than enough.