During this pandemic, many people are feeling afraid – you might be scared for a particularly vulnerable loved one, friend or neighbor. Maybe you ARE the vulnerable one and you’re scared for your own health. Maybe you’re scared for the thousands of strangers you see being impacted by this virus.
Some people are feeling anxious. Maybe you’re not being paid during this pandemic, your unemployment check hasn’t come through, or you’re afraid your business or workplace is never going to open its doors again. Maybe you’re a church leader suddenly trying to figure out how to still serve your congregation, or a teacher trying, in a short amount of time, to switch to digital learning and to best support your students.
Maybe you didn’t (or still don’t) feel an immediate threat to your health or finances and, when this all started, some time at home sounded practical. Maybe you planned to do more of what you did not previously have the time for. Maybe you meant to finish a puzzle, fix the gate, read at least 2 books, and jog 3 times a week. But now, as more time passes, maybe you’re starting to feel depressed, lonely, bored, fill-in-the-blank.
Maybe, like me, you’re a combination of more than one of these.
It’s easy to, also like me, calculate the amount of extra minutes you have (now that your commute is just into the next room) and berate yourself for not using that time to do more for your relationship with God. Chances are, though, that you’ve never experienced something like this before. This “extra time” is not a vacation. While you may have extra time in your schedule, you also have extra, and very real, thoughts, emotions, and situations that you may have never experienced before. GIVE. YOURSELF. SOME. GRACE.
That being said, we know that, no matter how big and scary this pandemic gets, God is bigger. We have a God that conquered death! And we know that we can’t stay in a place of putting God on the backburner.
So, lets take a deep breath, and look at five ways that we can connect and grow with God during this time.
1. Reach out to someone.
We’re all missing our churches, families, and friends. We miss them socially, and we may miss the support they give and growth that they foster. Reach out to a church, a family member, or a friend. Ask them how they’re doing, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Tell them honestly how you’re doing. Pray for them and ask them to pray for you. If you’re comfortable with it, ask them to pray for you right then and there, with you.
If you don’t go to a church, that’s okay. You can still reach out to one and ask for prayer, support, or someone to talk to. Follow a local church on social media or reach out to them through their website.
If none of this is an option for you, reach out to me. I would be happy to hear from you and pray with you.
1 Corinthians 12:26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it (NIV)
2. Unplug for a bit.
If you want a scary number, go into your phone and see what your daily screen time has been recently (I’m not even going to share what mine was, yikes.)
I can’t tell you how many times I go to pray or read my Bible and I wind up on my phone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrolled mindlessly through Facebook, Instagram, or Tik Tok and, when I’ve finally put my phone down I’ve felt emotionally drained.
Intentionally put your phone down, close the laptop, and turn off the TV. Instead, take that time to read a devotional, go for a distraction-free, quiet walk, talk to a loved one, talk to God.
Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (NIV)
3. Find a study that meets you where you are right now.
My reading became stagnant recently. I was barely reading my Bible, and even that was more-so because I felt like I “needed” to do it, and less because I actually WANTED to. Identify an area of your faith that needs growing right now, that you’re passionate about improving, and find a study that focuses on that.
For me, I needed to rejuvenate my prayer life. I couldn’t keep rushing through prayers just because I was about to eat or wanted to fall asleep. Prayer needed to be a priority and an experience of growing closer with God, not an afterthought. So I did some research and found a book discussing practical ways to make your prayer life more meaningful and intentional. It’s been a major blessing to me!
Colossians 2:6-7 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness (NIV)
4. Find solitude with God.
Okay, before you yell “MORE SOCIAL DISTANCING?!” at me, hear me out. Maybe you’re already in solitude. Maybe you’re at home, completely alone during this time. That doesn’t mean you’re in solitude WITH GOD. Take a portion of your day and be intentional about spending it with God. The other day, I left my husband and puppy behind so that I could go for a walk alone with God. I took the time to pray; I looked around, distraction-free, and reflected on just how pretty our quiet neighborhood is; I took the time to be purposely thankful for God’s goodness.
Maybe a walk doesn’t suit you – try a quiet room or even your car. The important thing is that it is time alone with God.
Matthew 26:36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray” (NIV)
5. Listen to worship music – and worship.
Worship music is great! I listen to it all the time. However, it is often background music while I’m cleaning the kitchen or driving in my car. Writing this made me stop and think – now that I’m not going to church weekly, when was the last time I truly listened to worship music, heard the lyrics, and praised God? I honestly can’t even answer that question.
Whether by yourself, with someone in your house, or even over Zoom with friends, family or church family, put on some worship music and worship.
Psalm 95:1 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation (NIV)
I pray that this list helps you draw closer to God during this time of uncertainty. Some of you may be thinking right now “Okay… but what can I do to serve God and help others right now?” If I’m describing you, stay tuned for my next post: “Five Ways to Serve God and Others During the Coronavirus Pandemic.”