What we have all experienced over the past months with COVID-19 has not been that we got through it but what we got out of it. The deaths and consequent grief has been a sobering reality, true. But have we also been shown something of Life that can give us greater joy?
Could it be that what was meant to take our old lives can actually turn out to give us new ones? Furthermore, what may have been used to shut us down can also serve to open us up. Where once we were blinded, darkened by drudgery and routine, our eyes are now opened to see things more clearly. What once was taken for granted is now viewed with greater appreciation. What and Who is really important to us? As Joni Mitchel sang, “Don’t it always seem to go. That you don’t know what you got. Till it’s gone.” Ain’t that the truth!
So, what are the lessons from the long haul from which we’ve involuntarily endured? If we are not intentional in asking that question, we will be drawn right back into the “new normal” that may be strangely like the old over-rated one. For instance, we say:
- “Back to work” but what does that phrase mean to you?
Many of us want to get back to work. But, does that mean, “back to the daily grind” or is it now something more? Is “work” for you life-taking or life-giving? For some, rather than digging a deeper hole it now means digging out of one. What once seemed purposeless now becomes purposeful. Work may be not so much an obstacle as it is an opportunity. “Got to” becomes “get to” in today’s economy.
- “Re-open” but what does that mean to you as a Christian?
“We’re not reopening because we never closed” or “We’ve never been closed because we’re always open, as the church” is an often used phrase among pastors to their church people. But if it is more than just a smart twist of the phrase? What does this really mean? Are we talking Building or Body? Organization or Organism? Congregation or a Family? What have we learned from this crazy COVID-world in which we suddenly found ourselves? Whether gathered or scattered, are we not also sheep of the same Shepherd? Why do we actually know that this is so? And what has it mean to truly belong as one of the same flock (although masked and socially distanced)? Are we now more open to God than we were before? Good question.
With all the pressure upon us to “get back to where we once belonged” be careful to not lose what we have gained. Insight. It surely has meant rugged loss to all of us in various ways, with challenges like never before! Still, there have been gains. Some have enjoyed their freedom from all the many and much of a busy life, and have experienced new rhythms for real Life. Some have come to enjoy the blessing of family being home, while others found it a novelty that quickly wore off requiring greater intentionality, creativity and presence. The role of teaching at home which once was relegated to professionals became personally doable and beneficial (although with a greater appreciation for teachers). Many found that they could do things, and do without things, that they didn’t realize before. And with such insight there was true joy. However, will it all be pushed aside in our rush to get back to “normal” lives again?
It is not survival that we need but revival—physical and spiritual. We’ve been shown, the hard way, what Life is not during COVID-19, and by the grace of God we can now live. – RWO