After weeks of being at home with nowhere to go except the grocery store, this quarantine has changed our perspective on so much in life. People have mentioned things such as no school shootings, lower gas prices, less traffic, families spending time together, no hectic schedules, eating at home, better hygiene, and a much-needed appreciation for those folks on the front lines.
We all have stories to tell. This pandemic has affected each of us—physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, and/or financially. Some have lost jobs. Others have lost loved ones. We wonder if life as we know it will ever be the same. What can we expect to happen when the powers that be determine when we can return to normal?
For most of the world, I believe we will step into a new normal. While some will rush back in to do business as usual, others might continue to deal with a degree of fear. Paranoia. Distrust. Is it really safe to go out? Do I still need to stand six feet away from the person in line? Have the restaurants and retail stores cleaned and sanitized as they should? How many of them will remain closed? Can I safely reunite with friends and family?
The future, as they say, remains to be seen. But two things are certain: this virus did not catch God by surprise, and He never wastes an opportunity to teach His children and draw them closer to Him.
I’ve learned through this time that God wants us to slow down. To rest, not only physically, but to learn to rest in Him. To trust Him. To spend time with Him. To spend more quality time with family. To be more concerned about others than we are about ourselves. To be content with what we have instead of agonizing over what we don’t have. To appreciate life. To be thankful.
As an excessive planner who likes to know how the day/week/month will play out, one of the greatest benefits for me has been the ability to put aside my to-do list and not be ruled by my schedule. A post on Facebook said that the least-used gift of 2019 is a 2020 planner. Funny but true. I erased/deleted all upcoming events from my paper calendar and mobile app. We canceled our routine doctor appointments and our vacation. Other than a few reminders for blog posts, my calendar is empty. This has given me a feeling of freedom and flexibility.
In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young writes:
I am training you to set your mind on Me more and more, tuning out distractions through the help of My Spirit. Walk with me in holy trust, responding to my initiatives rather than trying to make things fit your plans. I died to set you free, and that includes freedom from compulsive planning. When your mind spins with a multitude of thoughts, you cannot hear my voice. A mind preoccupied with planning pays homage to the idol of control. Turn from this idolatry back to me. Listen to me and live abundantly. ~Jesus
We read in Proverbs 16:9, A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps (NKJV). The Passion Translation puts it like this: Within your heart, you can make plans for your future, but the Lord chooses the steps you take to get there.
God doesn’t promise us tomorrow, and He doesn’t assure us that everything today will be perfect. But He does promise to be with us and to never leave us. He is our source. Our provider. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways so much wiser and better than our own. His plans are to give us hope and a future. He makes beauty out of ashes and turns mourning into dancing.
Henry Blackaby says in Experiencing God that “God is always at work”—in, around, and through us, even when we can’t see or understand. Many have said during this crisis that “God is up to something.” Whatever else God is “up to,” I believe He’s working in the hearts of His children.
What is He doing in your heart? What lessons have you learned from COVID-19?