It only takes one thumb scroll through Facebook to indicate that quarantine has left most of restless, scared, and at the very least, bored to the brink of insanity. For the love, I almost scrapbooked the other day. Almost. We’re all searching for projects and purpose to consume our energy and time, and we’re all feeling that weird sense of angst associated with involuntary change and the unknown.
But as uncomfortable as it is, I feel God is using this eerie time to “shake” us a bit to bring to light some behaviors, thought patterns, and even beliefs He wants to change – for our own good.
After an abnormally powerful and caffeine-infused prayer time the other day, I began to think, ‘What if our project for the remainder of this time would be to work on ourselves? More specifically, to find our deeper identity in Christ? Or for those who haven’t, to find Him for the first time. Because the truth is, it’s only through finding God that we become our best, happiest, and truest self – the spirit he made us to be before disbelief, heartache, loss, disappointments, distractions, self-absorption, and eventual independence from Him set in.
One of the greatest misconceptions about pursuing God is that we’ll have to sacrifice part of ourselves: our personalities, habits, pleasures, dreams, and even our intellect. It’s probably one of the smoothest lies perpetuated since the beginning of time to not only separate us from God, but hinder our freedom. And whether we acknowledge it or not we have skewed patterns of thinking, wounds, and behaviors we’ll never be aware of – let alone fix – without God’s help. And so many dormant dreams, adventures, and passions we’ll never discover until we do.
I had no desire and thought I had no need for God until going through a time of brokenness and aloneness in early twenties, when I finally came back to Him. It’s only through Him that I’ve been able to gain freedom from so many things – the burden of self, living to please others, healing from childhood losses, and so much more. Beyond that, despite a non-stop cycle of mistakes, God has brought literally every dream to fruition – so much more than I deserve.
Even for Christians that’ve believed and experienced a level of intimacy and adventure with God, it’s easy to lose our hunger for Him and our zest for living out our calling. We get a bit older, acquire more comforts and autocracy, and of course there’s the over-abundance work and family responsibilities. The pursuit of God gradually sinks down the totem pole of life priorities and takes tepid residence in our hearts.
One of my greatest fears is regret. I dread getting to heaven, not because I fear hearing my litany of screw ups (ohhhhh, the list…) but realizing I could’ve done and become so much more if I had just stayed closer to Him and more committed to my life’s real callings. I’ve always had a fierce “make the most of every moment” mentality that I credited to losing my dad when I was twelve, but over the course of my life it’s almost astounding how diluted my passion and focuses have become when letting God take second or third place in my life.
Aside from removing the many distractions and duties from our lives, this pandemic also has a way of reminding us of the fragility of life. We’re not guaranteed endless time to finally kick that habit or dependency, or be a better spouse. Or stop making excuses and just do the hard thing we’ve been praying about for a decade now. Bering quarantined has made me realize without church and youth group, I was contributing almost nothing to my kid’s spiritual life, aside from the short devotions I’d read over dinner and prayers at bedtime. I’ve told myself I’d start doing Bible studies with my kids for years now, but “never had the time.” We’ve no doubt been jolted out of autopilot, but in a matter of months – maybe even weeks – we’ll choose how we operate in the realm of regular life.
God never designates evil or heartache, but He does use its consequences – often pain, being alone, confusion, or fear – to help us find and experience Him. We can feel His provision, comfort, unwavering faithfulness, and joy in the midst of darkness. But God speaks in a whisper. To “be still, and know that I am God,” doesn’t indicate inactivity. It’s proactively posturing ourselves toward God with an expectancy of experiencing Him and all His qualities: Peace. Wisdom. Boldness over fear. Correction made in love. And on, and on. But, we have to be willing to listen.
Jesus came to bring abundant life, which means “abounding fullness of joy and strength for mind, body, and soul.” He wants the pandemic to end. He created us to be together. He loves family and community and He wants us to be happy, but not at the risk of not knowing Him. Happiness and worldly comforts are fleeting and they’ll never be enough. Leaving us to ourselves would be like our kids opening their stockings on Christmas but never seeing the gifts under the tree… If only they’d kept looking.
For the remainder of these strange times, consider spending more tie with Him, and create space for movement in our lives. If you don’t know Him, why not try? If He’s real, He’s for everyone, not just a brand of faith-infused elites in need of a life crutch. Whether we ever accept it or not, He has a detailed, amazing plan for every life that’s He’s thought about since the beginning of time. What’s amazing is it’s never too late to return to, or begin our walk with Him. Start out with a simple prayer: “God if you’re real, let me know in a way I can believe.” Start reading the Bible online if you don’t have one. The book of John is a great start. Erase every belief you might’ve formed about God and religion and take a walk in the woods with Him…starting with a clean slate. I’ve yet to meet a soul who sincerely searched for God and was disappointed.
Life is short. And it’ll soon return to normal. I hope we never do.