Depending on your personality type, family dynamic, the ages of your kids, and a host of other factors, you might find quarantine to be a dream. You might see it as a natural fit for your family, a mere extension of how you already live.
It’s also quite possible you find it to be a struggle. And really, it might be a big struggle, an all-hands-on-deck, we’re-going-down kind of struggle. And you might be questioning, where the heck is all of the toilet paper?
Most people would say they live somewhere in the middle.
The certainty of uncertainty
At our house, we are like violently nomadic ping-pong balls in a souped-up, old-time arcade.
One minute, we are smooth sailing. Everyone’s doing well, including the two puppies we brought into the mix last week.
The next minute, something hits us, catapulting everyone into the land of homework until 10:30 p.m. and puppies who can no longer identify grass from carpet.
It’s a land I feel certain many of you know.
Thus far, everyone is still alive and fed, which puts us in the win column. People say thank heaven for small victories, but, at this point, I’m not sure these wins are actually even that small.
Fulfilling every role
These past couple of weeks, parents everywhere have seen their roles expanded. Up to this point, we have been providers, overseers, snugglers, and lovers of souls, and now we must be on 24/7 duty.
We must also take on the roles of full-time chefs, therapists for littles who feel anxious or afraid, referees (less of sibling conflict and more of sibling irritation manifested from little time apart), and managers of different levels of learning needs.
We have become teachers (or at least tutors) of subjects we might (or might not) be good at ourselves, entertainers, house cleaners, tenders to all things pet-related, and still employees, volunteers, and friends.
Many are using this time to tackle projects around the house or expand their children’s minds through crafts and gardening projects. They are seizing the opportunity to teach their children how to cook and work together to come up with new games. Others are doing what they can to get by.
We are being asked—in some cases, instructed—to do this in close quarters, which means anything that is not running smoothly is showcased a bit more than usual.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed and lose sight of the good news of the gospel. This is especially true when the gospel meets everyday life and, all of a sudden, you’re that nomadic ping-pong ball.
You have become the emotional equivalent of that once hot cup of tea that has long since gone cold while you tend to everything else required of you.
It was for freedom
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1 NASB).
Almost two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul was doing his best to spread the gospel around the world. He was working hard not just to spread the word but also to ensure that the right word, the true gospel, was taking root.
He learned that the church in Galatia had begun to believe a perversion of the gospel. He set out to remind them of the gospel of Jesus, a message not from man but from Christ himself: “For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11–12).
The Galatian church had lost confidence in the good news of the gospel of Christ and had replaced it with a willingness to believe other (false) gospels and doctrine. What happened to them is a shockingly easy trap for us too.
In ways we had not previously expected, it has application in today’s unusual time of social distancing, self-quarantining, and parenting through uncharted waters.
But, friends in Christ, because of Christ, we are set free.
He didn’t set us free so that we might fall back into the worst of what has perpetually bound mankind: fear, selfishness, distrust, faithlessness, hatred, bitterness, and more fear.
He set us free for freedom.
Giving thanks precedes the miracle
I think of Ann Voskamp and her observation in One Thousand Gifts: eucharisteo—the act of giving thanks—always precedes the miracle. If we give thanks during this time, what might we see, experience, and receive as a miracle?
The miraculous promise from 2 Chronicles 7:13–14 finds its roots in humbling ourselves and seeking his face. Scripture calls us to turn from our wicked ways so Christ might forgive our sin and heal our land.
- Our Father promises that he will never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
- We are taught, with faith as small as a mustard seed, we might move mountains (Matthew 17:20).
- The miracle of an intimate relationship with the One who created the universe might seem a bit more tangible (John 3:16).
- The Great Commission (Matthew 28:20) might be carried out far and wide in more expansive (digital) ways.
In Galatians, Paul implores the believers to “walk worthy,” a theme he shares throughout several of his letters. Paul’s idea, combined with the concept of eucharisteo, offers a blueprint for laying out how best we might live during this time of social distancing.
- We can start it in our homes, offering daily praise and worship to the Father, singing hymns and spiritual songs (Colossians 3:16).
- We can comfort our littles when they are afraid and teach them to look to the Lord (Psalm 56:3–4).
- We can ask the Holy Spirit to give us more of his fruit so that we might extend grace first within our homes (Galatians 5:22–23).
- We can start a family gratitude journal that everyone adds to daily.
- We can spend time in prayer for ourselves, our families, our leaders, and our world (John 17).
- We can pick a city or a country to pray for every night after dinner, a place where the Lord would fully bless and protect.
- Then, we can move on from doing good for him in our homes and start doing good for him from our homes.
- We can reach out to friends and family, checking in on them, connecting, praying, and thereby bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
- We can bake more than we need, offering covert drop-offs on elderly neighbors’ doorsteps. We can live out the Lord’s instruction to treat others the way we would like to be treated (Luke 6:31).
Modeling Christ’s love
What if we model Christ’s love for our kids?
Think of what simply living a life in devotion to Christ can do for your children and their faith as they grow, not only in age, but also in Christ. Think what it would mean near and far. Think how heaven would rejoice.
Let us remember and be inspired by the true stories of Christians during the Black Plague. Let us recall their sacrificial acts, ministering to the dying.
Even just a couple of months ago, it was Chinese Christians in Wuhan who tended the sick at the risk of their own health and lives. They spread hope and shared the gospel among the communities hardest hit. The world was watching and saw Christ’s love in action.
Friends, we have the freedom to lean into the arms of the One who sent us at this appointed time to be his church. That’s the true freedom. That’s the real calling. That’s the miraculous gift of now.
We are free to worship instead of withdraw, praise instead of fear, and reach out in clever new ways instead of restricting all communication.
We can look up instead of inward.
We can choose to pray and praise, not fret and fear.
We can find ways to connect and serve, not hoard and close off.
Made for such a time
Indeed, it is for freedom that Christ set us free.
Even in quarantine, social distancing, and newfound responsibilities with at-home learning, we are free in Christ. Even with all of it, as we walk worthy in eucharisteo and in freedom, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Galatians 6:9).
You were made for such a time as this. And the Lord goes before you.
Praise be to God.