As I write this, over a million people have been globally infected with COVID-19 and rapidly counting. As the pandemic spreads, more countries are closing borders, restricting personal freedoms, and enforcing strict social distancing.
In tune, New Zealand followed suit. At 12:00 AM on the 26th March 2020, the nation entered an unprecedented lockdown. Never before has a justification for driving down the road and going for a casual bike ride been required, as the country’s Health Minister so tragically discovered.
A self-preserving deception
Whether the news is spouting an act of terrorism, a military coup, natural disaster, or a pandemic overseas, it is easy to disconnect from the crisis.
Too easily, we categorise what we experience as ‘reality’ and what the crisis is describing. After all, it’s happening in a foreign nation, not at home. It may affect our prayer lives, but not our very way of living.
On rare occasions this thinking proves false at best, and catastrophic at worst. Consider only the 9/11 attacks, the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings, or the recent widespread Australian bushfires. Either we think a disaster is too remote from our reality or it strikes in the most unexpected fashion for us to comprehend.
Both forms of thinking not only fail to keep us rooted in the substance of a biblical worldview, leading us to question our hope in what is to come, but it also raises a question about how valuably we are spending our time day by day, moment by moment.
A stolen bucket list
As soon as that reality, that lockdown, hits home, you realise life is not as it once was. We like to ask ourselves, “If you knew Jesus was returning tomorrow, what would you do?” Yet, we easily consider it an abstract question.
We never really treat each day like it’s our last before He returns, but it begs the very simple question: are we valuing the actions we are making and do they hold significance to us or are we treating each new unexpected event in our lives as a lost opportunity, a stolen bucket list?
Preparing for the apocalypse
For many of us, the final days before the lockdown meant spending time with those we wouldn’t be able to see, preparing our homes with appropriate distractions and rations, or even advancing the timing of marriage ceremonies.
For me, I proposed to my girlfriend (admittedly before we were aware we would go into lockdown). I cannot explain not only the joy of simply having asked my best friend to marry me, but also the blessing of having been so fortunate to do so before what our Prime Minister called, ‘the apocalypse.’
Measuring our actions
We crave meaning to our actions or even drastically alter the timing of our actions, even more so when our actions or time is limited.
The peripheral falls away and we are left with what matters most in that moment. Yet, it begs us to consider how much we value not only the time spent leading up to the lockdown, but how much we simply value our time and actions every day.
Scripture has already given us this precedent. In 1 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 31, Paul writes, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Our actions should not be determined by how much time we have left, but rather by their inherent significance and glorification of God. Granted, some actions under time constrains are more valuable than others, like an assignment deadline, but that should not be our base measure.
The actual coming apocalypse
In the midst of COVID-19, let us not forget, the very real and actual apocalypse that awaits.
The root word for ‘apocalypse’ is the Greek, ‘apokaluptein’, translating to ‘uncover’ or ‘revelation’. We have a book in the Bible to remind us of it, not that we may attempt to predict its timeline, but to remind us that every moment holds significance.
So it is for us, whether Christ is returning tomorrow or beyond our lifetimes, let us consider and value each day in light of not when He will return, but simply in light of Him.
Hailing from North Auckland, Blake Gardiner sounds American, looks Swedish, but grew up in Laos. As an introvert, Blake lives life on the edge by socialising. When he isn’t putting his life at such risk, he enjoys reading theology and debating whether Interstellar is truly the greatest movie of all time. Blake is married to fellow young writer Jessica Gardiner.