The beautiful thing about blessings is how quickly they multiple. At the beginning of the stay at home order, I sent my nieces a kit of fun with activities. One of the activity ideas was to draw pictures and mail them to a local nursing home. Since nursing homes are closed to visitors, artwork by a child would be welcomed sunshine in a community that is often overlooked. Those sweet girls made lovely creations and mailed them off. Using what they had—their talents and resources—they were showing others the love of Jesus in a tangible way. Recently, my nieces received a thank you card with photos of people enjoying their generosity. As I think about how two little girls loved well and how valued our elders must have felt, tears come to my eyes. In all of it, I feel the most blessed because I had a front row seat to the kingdom of God in action. Blessing begot blessing begot blessing. That is a reflection of how generous our God is.
These blessings encourage me as I think about what is next for the U.S. in the coming year. The great debate right now is what does it look like to rebuild after weeks of Stay at Home orders due to COVID19. When and how do States begin to open? How do we understand the loss we are experiencing, both in terms of lives and livelihood? What do we do with the brokenness the virus has uncovered on large scales (abuse, unequal access to health care and education, etc.) and small ones (self-centeredness, hurting relationships, etc.)? If you’re anything like me, these questions can easily overwhelm and stifle us to the point of inaction.
So I pause. I take a deep breathe. And I remember the Gospel.
1 John 3:16-18 encourages us to look to Jesus in how we should live the Gospel in any context, COVID19 or not: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sister. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (NIV).
Sacrifice. Sharing. Love. Words. Actions. Simple. Instead of trying to save the world, I refocus by asking different questions, using 1 John 3:16-18 to guide me.
1. What is one way we want to live differently after COVID19?
Maybe during this stay at home time, we’ve realized some relationships have been a bit off and need some love. Maybe we finally started taking a Sabbath. Maybe we miss Christian community and want to join a small group when this is done. Maybe we want to practice gratitude every day. Maybe it’s something else entirely. We don’t have to do it all, but we can do one thing differently.
2. How can we partner with God in the rebuilding process?
Perhaps it’s mourning with those who have lost loved ones by listening to them and praying with them. Perhaps it’s providing practical care by offering to watch our friends’ little ones while she works on her resume or goes on a job interview. Maybe it’s making an extra portion of dinner to take to your elderly neighbor. Whatever it is, God is inviting us to join in the rebuilding, and we will have an opportunity to see blessings multiple.
While I would love to get a haircut right about now—my “bangs” are driving me crazy—I do not want to go back to life before COVID19. As painful as refinement can be, I want to soak up every opportunity to grow more like Jesus. COVID19 came quick, but the rebuilding process is going to take much longer. Let’s focus on living the Gospel just as my nieces did; with whatever talents and resources we have, let’s love in word and in action.
MOVEMENT STEP: Take some time this week and pray about the questions above. Journal what you feel God impressing on you. Share this with a friend and together you can strategize how to change these God thoughts into God honoring action. Then enjoy the view of the Kingdom coming.