After one particularly noisy afternoon (with toddler guest appearances in Zoom meetings, dog barking, and 872 ‘fun’ facts shared by our teenager), my husband and I chuckled as we thought about what shelter-in-place would have looked like throughout different stages of our lives. If this had happened five, ten, or fifteen years in the past or future our experience would be completely different. This brief “what if” exercise served as a good prompt to remember that everyone is experiencing this pandemic differently. People are in different seasons of life and are undergoing very different circumstances. Not even the neighbors on your street or within your own family are going through the exact same experience. This is important to remember as we talk to, pray for, and serve others. However, a sense of waiting seems to be a common thread of experience woven throughout our communities at this time. Many are waiting for an end to the grave threat of this virus, a lessening of restrictions, or some sense of normalcy to return. So what do we do with the wait? I think it is important to give this time to God.
Live in the Now- This crisis did not take God by surprise. He knew when it would happen and He knew what season and circumstances you would be treading during this time. He knows and understands, so live in the now. Recognize what is hard right now. Parents with a houseful of kids might be struggling to find five minutes of solitude, while some senior adults might be overwhelmed with the sound of silence. It is ok to struggle. Spend time giving those things to Him. Ask Him to grow the fruit of His Spirit in your heart. Come to Him for patience, comfort, company, or retreat. We know that we operate in His strength, not our own. Also, be sure to see the blessings He has sown in this season of your life. It could be precious extra hours and memory making with fast growing children or beautiful uninterrupted time just sitting and learning to listen in His presence. Look for the glimpses of His love throughout your day. Take time to thank Him for those things and ask Him to grow your heart of gratitude. Don’t waste the wait by wishing you were in a different stage. Recognize and rejoice in the struggles and joys of life now.
Learn Lessons- God can use these times of waiting to grow, prepare, or mold us to become more like Christ. I am currently responsible for caring for small humans (one with underlying health issues) and there is only so much sanitizing you can do, particularly when everyone is out of cleaning products! During this time, He is really helping me learn to trust Him more. Is there a lesson you need to learn during this time? Maybe it is how to disciple your children for the first time or perhaps it is learning the rhythms of Sabbath. Use this time for sanctification as you learn the lessons He has for you.
Love Others- The act of going was such an integral part of our society. People were often going on vacations, out for entertainment, out to eat, shopping, or even on mission trips. Going takes up a lot of time, and this act has largely been brought to a standstill. With old rhythms disrupted, now is the time to make sure we are doing what Christ has called us to do. It is easy to get so caught up in going, that we neglect serving, discipling, and loving others, particularly those right next door. Now is the time to form habits of obedience that will continue, even when the wait is over. Begin building an attitude of service within your own family and actively seek to love your neighbors and community on a regular basis. You can find a simple list of service suggestions here. God is still at work and we are still called to obey Him.
Waiting is not forever. When the waiting ends, will we be able to look back at this time and see how God changed us, used us, and shaped us? Let’s not waste the wait. Give it to Him.