Right now, there is a lot of noise out there about the pandemic and I do not want to add to it unnecessarily. However, I think that within the noise and the uncertainty many of us are losing sight of what should be our highest priorities in this time. Here is what I think should be at the top of your list.
Priority no 1: Stay alive
None of the other priorities matters if you fail at this one. You need to be doing things to keep yourself and those around you alive. It is true that if you were to get this virus, you would have a good chance of surviving. Yet it is also true that you will have an even better chance of infecting someone else. And you do not get to choose who those people will be or how healthy they will be. Consider these points:
- New disciplines
Unless you are a medical practitioner of some kind and trained in this, washing your hands correctly and often enough, wearing masks and sanitising surfaces are all new to you. Practice getting this right. Do not be the cool kid on the playground who sneer at these things. Do not take shortcuts. Do it right. Do it all the time. Stay healthy.
You do realise that it is much better to overdo these things needlessly than to neglect them at the wrong moment?
- Stay away from fake news
Gullibility is NOT a spiritual gift! This pandemic is not as scary as some make it sound. Nor is it as harmless as others make it. Don’t spend your time on people’s musings, conspiracy theories or personal revelations. It will put you in a tailspin and just make you look foolish. And please do not pass on unverified speculations.
This is part of staying alive, as false information can lead you to infect yourself and others where it could have been avoided.
Priority no 2: Stay connected
We are social beings and we are used to filling our days with activities that bring us into contact with people all the time. Most of this is now gone and it may remain gone for quite some time. I think all of us enjoyed the initial quiet when we locked down, but none of us can cope with it for too long. Whatever your capacity, I think it is time to be intentional in reaching out to others, for two reasons. Firstly: you need conversation and interaction. Secondly: They need conversation and interaction.
We had a lot of panic buying when lockdown started. It was unthinkable to not have food or toilet paper in your house. I think this is even more important and we need to prioritise it even higher. Here are some strategies.
This is not the time to find a new church. Listen to your own pastor’s sermons as much as he or she can make it available to you. He may have a face for radio, or she may have a voice best suited for shouting at the devil, but you know them, and they know you. They may not be as entertaining as some celebrity pastors, but you need your heart to be connected more than you need to be entertained. It will be good for you even if he shows up sideways on your Facebook screen or you can hear the toilet flushing in the background.
However, church is not just about sermons or your connection with your pastor. You need fellowship. You need dialogue and you need to experience people praying with you and for you. Most of us have never comfortably shared our hearts via a screen, but now would be a good time to develop this skill. And yes, it is merely a skill that can be developed. You need to try until you get it right. Join a cell group. Start one if need be. Be intentional about this and keep on trying until you get it right. If need be, buy a little less toilet paper and more data. It is important enough.
We are four people locked down together. All four of us are comfortable with silence and I like that about us. Also, all four of us have the ability to get lost in our screens. My wife calls it work and my son calls it Minecraft but if we are not intentional, we could lose contact with even those in our immediate vicinity.
Conversations are easy to start. Just ask questions… and be intentional in having long conversations with those in lockdown with you.
Writing long personal letters is a lost art in our time of emojis, 170-character tweets and generic messages passed on a thousand times. However, this could be the ideal time to share a special and personal message with someone. Are you up for it? When was the last time you wrote a personal letter? If you do not know what it is, google it… 😊
When you are disconnected from everyone, except those in your immediate circle it is easy to fall into a comfort zone regarding social interaction. You tend to reach out only to those people with whom you are comfortable. This may not be popular, but you need awkward conversations and you need to hear people say things with which you disagree. Be intentional in reaching out to a wider circle. (And please don’t read anything into it should I call you tomorrow… 😊) Now is the time to make your world bigger, not smaller.
Please let me know if you would like to join a Zoom group with me or even just call to chat. I need you as much as you need me, if not more.
Priority no 3: Pray
This should have been number one, but then you would have thought you already know what I am going to say. I know that you are praying. This is a time where even atheists pray. Here are some suggestions on how to be intentional when you pray.
- Pray together as a family that all of you will survive this pandemic.
- Pray for our president and our government as they make decisions that impact all of us. Pray for wisdom for them, not that they will do what you want them to do.
- Pray for the person you are about to call or email before you press the button.
- Scroll through your contact list or Facebook friends and pray for a couple of them every day.
Priority no 4: Dream
You may need to find new solutions as far as income or employment is concerned. You may have huge, seemingly insurmountable challenges in this time. It is that kind of time and it would be very easy to allow it all to overwhelm you. I want to encourage you to intentionally dream about the future.
Joseph had a dream that brought him trouble and rejection before it took him down, down again and then even further down before it all came about. As a result, he saved multiple nations from famine.
I am convinced that in your intimate moments with your heavenly Father there is a creative spark that can launch you into something that will surprise you and change your world. (Read more about this in my post called “Creative Genius”) This is not the time to give in to panic or worry. This is the time to let the creative juices flow and to tap into the creative genius that we call Lord.
May you dream new things. May hope grow in your heart as you look to a future where your God already is. May the best of your successes be ahead of you and the greatest of your accomplishments be born in this time. Rest in His arms and listen to His heart. Your Lord will take care of you spectacularly and surprisingly as only He can.
Do you agree with these priorities? Do you have any to add? I look forward to your comments!