How quickly things can change. A matter of days ago, I was watching Spring Training baseball games and anticipating the upcoming baseball season, the Players Championship in golf and the NCAA “March Madness” basketball tournament. Life was going on as usual, with my wife Tammy and I eating out, going to the movies, and watching the stock market hit new record highs every few days. We were looking forward to flying to Florida on March 17 for a conference. People were working as usual, and schools were approaching their Spring Break.
I had never heard the terms “social distancing” nor “flatten the curve”. I heard reports of a new virus that was devastating a city in China that I had never heard of, but never expected that it would – and so quickly – come to the United States and my own community. But in today’s connected world, a deadly virus can travel from China to California on one airline flight. And with it, all of a sudden restaurants and schools are closed, vacations are cancelled, people are working from home, churches have resorted to holding online services and toilet paper, hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes have become the hottest items in town.
As I write this, a “stay at home” order has just gone into effect for my state of Illinois. You can still go to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor’s office, and even get “take out” from your favorite restaurant. But the idea is that we are to stay home and avoid contact with others to stop the spread of the virus. With no sports to watch, and most everything on the 24-hour news networks having to do with the virus, what are we to do with this time that we have been given. Yes, I believe that we can look at this time as a gift. We can use this time to look at items of eternal significance.
I’ve personally been trying to maintain as normal a routine as is possible during these days, which includes daily exercise, checking in on family members via text or phone call, reading, writing and playing backgammon with Tammy. Movie theaters are closed, so we have checked out some good films on streaming services. Check out this article by Kevin Halloran and this article by Brett McCracken for some good recommendations.
You can take advantage of this new found time by spending more time reading or studying your Bible and enhancing your devotional and prayer time. Pastor H.B. Charles Jr. recently said “Take everything that is on your “worry list” and put it on your “prayer list”. This is also a great time for Christians to go deeper in their faith by taking a free study group course from Ligonier Connect, or listen to some of Ligonier Ministries’ teaching series, all of which are available to stream free during this time.
But what about those of you who are not sure that you are a true believer? You may go to church, you may even hold a leadership position in your church, but your faith has not really impacted the way you live your life? These days should prove as much as anything we have ever experienced, that we don’t have the physical or financial security that we thought we did. That type of security is just an illusion. Our minds can quickly turn to fear, anxiety and death. Is it possible that God will use this time to get some of us to slow down, not be entertained with sports and vacations, and focus on things of eternal significance?
Steven Lawson, in his book New Life in Christ, writes that everyone searches for what they believe will bring them happiness. Perhaps they will try to fill this vacuum with a meaningful relationship, a promising career or money and possessions. Some might even look for fulfillment within themselves. But none of these pursuits can fill the deepest longings of our soul or provide any true satisfaction that lasts. What we need is the new life that only God can give. Some may refer to this as being “saved” or being “born again”. That is the only solution to our deepest yearnings. Lawson asks “Have you been born again? No more critical question could be put before you.” He states that there are many things we can risk being wrong about, but we cannot risk being wrong about the state of our soul with God. Watch this short 6.5 minute video on Sacrifice & Atonement or tons of free videos on https://bibleproject.com/. I love their drawings and graphics that take difficult topics and make them easy to understand in short, concise videos.
So, as you find yourself with more time during these days, I encourage you to use your time wisely, and don’t waste this time to think of those things that really matter. And at the top of that list is your relationship with God.