In NSW, Australia, lockdown restrictions are starting to ease. For some it’s a welcome relief but for others they may feel a sense of trepidation and anxiety for the worst yet to come. Like all significant events or disruptions in life, taking the time to reflect on its impact and possible opportunities can help us better understand ourselves as well as make positive changes to grow in character and strengthen our faith.
I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to reflect on how the lockdown has impacted me and what valuable lessons I could take away from this.
1. Life can turn upside down at any moment
I remember m/y last meeting with my kids and youth leaders before our church decided to make the switch to online services. At the time we knew it was coming but we didn’t expect it to happen the following week. We talked about what the next Sunday would look like, how we’ll follow hygiene protocols and what we do if we see a child coughing. All these plans we made became useless. We didn’t get to say a proper ‘won’t see you face-to-face for a few months’ goodbye. In days, the world as I knew it closed down quite quickly and I felt like I was thrown into the lion’s den.
This experience reminded me of what James in the Bible once said, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (The Book of James chapter 4, verse 14). Life is fleeting and so are the circumstances we’re in. Sometimes the fear of losing control feels scarier than knowing our mortality.
As a Christian, I’m comforted in knowing the Truth that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (The Book of Hebrews chapter 13, verse 8).
2. A slower pace doesn’t mean time is wasted
I wonder what your relationship with time is like. For me, time is something I need to beat, and a sense of busyness reflects my high capacity to produce efficient and effective results.
Since the lockdown I’ve been forced to slow down. Suddenly my sense of worth is being challenged. Who am I if I’m not the pastor who’s constantly planning and producing? Slowing down has forced me to focus on a few things more intentionally. Whether it be planning and creating online content or spending quality time with others, I’m more present, and therefore, more focussed.
When you find yourself in a season of slowing down, use it as an opportunity to do deep work and cultivate deeper relationships. There is great satisfaction in doing things well and connecting deeply with others.
Paul once said, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (The Book of Philippians chapter 4, verse 8). What great timing to make the most of lockdown to reflect on ‘true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable’ things.
3. Even the strongest are not immune from disasters
A wise person once said, “The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favour to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all” (The Book of Ecclesiastes chapter 9, verse 11). Live long enough and you realise that so many things are beyond our control. We never know when disaster might strike. One day we may be perfectly healthy, but the next, an unwelcomed diagnosis.
We hear and read about big economies struggling to cope with the health and economic ramifications of COVID-19. Hundreds and thousands of people are dying every day and we are completely vulnerable against this virus.
Disasters don’t discriminate against gender, age or ethnicity. I’m humbly reminded that even the fastest, strongest, wisest, wealthiest and most brilliant are not immune from misfortune. The certainty we have, though, is who will reign at the very end.
When we look forward to the very end, we know Jesus will still be there. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus calls himself “the alpha and omega” three times (chapter 1 verse 8, chapter 21, verses 6 and 13), which means no one and nothing can triumph over him.
No matter what hardship you’re experiencing right now, remember: you’d always find Jesus at the very end. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans” (The Book of Psalms chapter 118, verse 8). Don’t put your trust in your country’s GDP. Don’t put your trust in your bank account. Don’t put your trust in anyone but God.
Rachel is the children and youth pastor at Northern Life Baptist Church in Sydney. She loves volleyball, reading and a good TV drama! She has recently finished studying a Master of Divinity at Morling College and she’s continuing further studies towards another Masters.