I‘ve been quarantined for over 50 days now, the latter half on furlough from work. My days are like a cup suddenly drained of much of its content. In my shock and thirst to be filled, I have turned to the Lord who has provided a fountain of sweetness. Yet, this is not a one-time refill. There are still 24 hours in the day, and the days keep coming. My cup sits among the waters of this world, and the walls of my cup are porous. It doesn’t take long for the cares and values of the world to seep back in to fill it, albeit in new and inconspicuous ways. The space where commutes and events and church gatherings and hikes and volunteering and restaurant outings once stood can easily be filled with screens and snacks and social media and news and career improvement and self-help and virtual volunteering. The empty house in Matthew 12 gets filled with more evil than what occupied it before…and it probably didn’t look particularly evil when it came through the door.
This is every day’s battle…as it was before the pandemic. If I’m not drinking daily from the everlasting fount, my cup will be filled effortlessly by the world around me. This world offers little wisdom for a middle ground between boredom and over-work, or despondency and anxiety, or laziness and guilt-fueled philanthropy. Christ is the only rock I know that cuts through the middle, providing grace and rest first, then providing basis to work joyfully within the sphere of influence He gives me.
Lord, I thirst for you alone. Lift my cup out of the waters of the world and fill me completely from above. And let my cup run over to my neighbors for your glory.
– Tanner R
It’s 3:00am, and I’m rocking my 7 month old daughter, Claire. My mind turns over and over images of empty playgrounds, ventilators pumping, freezers full of bodies. I cry out in prayer, “Lord, you make life out of breath and cause dead bones to rise, have mercy!”
My holy moment is interrupted with a whack. My daughter’s arm, the one not tucked against my body but free to the outside world, is flapping rapidly. She is seemingly content nursing, yet that arm has a life of its own. If she were a cardinal or robin, she would take off. Wild flapping continues. I can’t help myself and place my hand out, ready to catch her tiny one on its next decent. Our palms meet and a sound escapes. Claire stops eating immediately. She looks up at me, as if to say, “Did you hear that?” She smiles, continues eating, and our hands meet again and again. We are clapping.
I think of Isaiah 55:12, “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” A picture of heaven. All of creation rejoicing, making music for the Lord. I look at my daughter. She knows nothing about COVID-19, isolation, unemployment, terror. She only knows safety, provision, affection, delight. My heart is now calm. I’m grateful to God for this gentle reminder that our future is certain. In Christ, we are guaranteed an endless parade of dancing. Through the cross, we are held and protected forever. Without the pulse of anxiety, I suddenly feel exhausted. I allow my eyes close. My chair rocks, back and forth. Claire eats. Clap. Clap. Clap.
– Laura S
The sneaky tricky thing about silence is that it can be either deafening or calming. Because when you come face-to-social-distancing-face with a global pandemic and your life feels like it’s in total limbo (that infuriating combination of stagnation and free fall), you also come face to face with what you put your trust in. And how much (or how not very much) that trust is actually worth. When there’s no more sports and no more movies and no more clubs and no more getting-together and more and more literal distance and isolation, there is a choice of how to look at it. The most obvious (and, if I’m honest, attractive) option is to take this as a deliciously golden opportunity to despair; to despair loudly, and often. But it’s also an invitation to be still. Not in the stagnating sort of way, but in a way that grounds me. Grounds me in Christ. It’s the active stillness of spiritually wrestling with what it really means to trust in Jesus, to worship in the midst of chaos, to be calm in the midst of the storm. On the one hand, I’m forced to confront how woeful I am at most of that, as well as my many limitations – for instance, the limit of my control over my day-to-day life. On the other hand, I get Jesus. Right now, life has removed a lot of the louder distractions that I often allow to drown out God’s voice. It’s been a long year already. And we don’t actually know how much longer this pandemic is going to last, or how bad things are actually going to get. But I know that God is good. And faithful. And near. Times like this, what else can we do but throw our arms around Him and hold on for dear life?
– Jason E