At the commencement of my ministry my church leaders endorsed my suggestion of attending a three-day time management course for pastors and church leaders. They obviously felt that I had a need to improve in that area! It was one of the most worthwhile courses I had attended and have since run seminars on that subject myself.
However, the downside with the teaching was that I was taught to make each 15 minutes productive. This increased my work efficiently, but it meant that I didn’t know how to slow down and enjoy life more. I always wanted to be more productive. For many the upside of isolation due to the corona virus is that it is an opportunity to slow down and experience ‘quietness and rest’ and find God in a fresh way. Jesus got the balance right between work and rest.
I am mindful also that some of my friends in certain countries are doing it tough through this season and this has caused tremendous stress and anxiety. Some wonder how they will get food supplies, especially when there is no or little money to draw upon.
Here are some observations and information gleaned on how some can use this period in a worthwhile way.
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength….” Isaiah 30:15
‘But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed’. Luke 5:16.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14.
There is a movement sprung up around the world and people are encouraged to pray this verse over their country at 7.14 am and 7.14 pm each day. I would encourage all of us to join in with others in prayer around the world at this time.
In exploring opportunities in managing isolation here are some suggestions.
- Be kind to yourself but take a stand against negative feelings and don’t let them take root in your heart otherwise your mind will get carried away, especially at night. Determine to give them no time. Get exercise and find encouragement in the promises of God. Appreciate the beauty of nature. Technology can bless you with great music, inspiring messages, laughter, training and growth. Some of you have time for that now.
- Relationships may be very challenging because of living in unexpectedly close proximity with others. Try not to make issues out of things that in the long term do not really matter. Learn to let go. Ask God for much grace and wisdom. If you can, create space and if allowed go for walks.
- When I used to work from home, like people now working in isolation, I had a ritual for when I finished work for the day. I did not look at work related emails after the evening meal and on Sundays I would not clear emails at all. This enabled me to remain fresh and give me more time for prayer in the evenings. Another form of ritual may suit you better for example, simply closing a door to the room you work in if you have a room set aside for that purpose.
- Ask the question, ‘what refreshes you’? It could be reading a good book, writing, completing unfinished tasks around the home, taking up some hobby, watching a good film, phoning a dear friend, gardening, house maintenance, or do an online study course etc.
- Reach out to others. Unchurched historians in remarking about the early church noticed how they really did care for each other, including those outside of the church. Why not make a list of contacts of people you can support even if it is simply a phone call to someone every day, especially to someone in isolation who may not have many friends or family support.
- Jesus teaches that we are to lay down our lives for others. By living in a responsible way, I wonder what that means for you? For example, could it mean that if you are a doctor or nurse in retirement you can offer your services? Could we make a meal for an overworked hospital nurse or doctor? Let’s be creative in how we serve.
- Many church groups rather than meeting on a Sunday or through the week in person, are now connecting via the internet for fellowship, worship and teaching. There are so many media platforms. We use email, Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom, WeChat, Viber, Teams, Facebook and texting. Our life(home) group uses Zoom for our weekly group connections even though at this stage it still feels a little strange. Amongst all this sadness we could be living in very encouraging days when people discover God as a loving heavenly Father. The church has the possibility of mushrooming in size.
- This is an opportunity to deliberately set aside time to get to know God better. Worship through singing or whatever lifts your heart in faith, read Scripture prayerfully and find inspiring books.
- Lastly, we need to pray hard! Here are some suggestions how to pray:
Protection and wisdom for medical people, that the pandemic will cease, people’s relationships will grow and a way out be found for those suffering domestic violence, the poor to find food, God’s protection over family and friends, that a vaccination will be invented, wisdom for Governmental leaders, open hearts toward the gospel and for the effective witness of the church.
Use the Bible as a source of comfort, truth, and a weapon to stand against evil.
Again, sing from your heart as you worship the Lord! Download music from ‘You tube’ etc if it helps.
Listen to a range of Inspirational speakers that speak Biblical truth.