2020 will be remembered as the year when everything was disrupted. Church was disrupted – we are meeting in the afternoons in a different church’s parking lot under a tent. School has been disrupted with many children attending classes online. Jobs have been lost, furloughed, and many more are now working from home. At the same time, we see wildfires in the west and inner cities aflame with protest. It is safe to say that within our lifetimes, we have never lost control of some many things at the same time.
We have responded to this disruption in a number of ways. For some, we have filled our lives with anger and panic filled activity in our attempts to regain control of our worlds. We fight to get things back to the way they were. Others have chosen to retreat into a detached depression, hunkering down, hiding and waiting for the disruption to pass. And still for others, this is the time to rally the troops and move the church out to “reclaim the nation and the world for Christ.” I would imagine that each of us could identify with at least one of these approaches. I tend to vacillate between all three: get angry and fight, hide and retreat, and frantic activity.
But I’ve been listening to some voices lately who are older and wiser in the faith than I am. They suggest a different path for us: slow down and find some rhythm.
Think about the staggering losses we have experienced as a society. I’m not just talking about deaths. We are missing jobs, human touch, hugs, concerts, family gatherings with twenty people in the living room, church gatherings, and visits to see grandparents in the nursing home. Each loss involves grief. Grief takes time to process well. Healthy grieving hurts, so we avoid it by numbing ourselves. We fill the empty space in our lives with busyness, entertainment, or the addiction of our choice. But grief and loss are part of our journey with Christ. If we stop and embrace the dark, we will find that Jesus will meet us there. It seems counter-intuitive, but wisdom calls us to slow down and acknowledge our grief. Don’t run from it. Sit in it.
I think this is what Solomon was getting at when he wrote in Ecclesiastes:
Ecclesiastes 7:3-4: Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
Peter Scazzero puts it this way: “Powering through loss is not always a good thing. We need to allow the pain to change us.” God uses loss and grief to soften us and deepen our love for him and our compassion for others. Slow down and allow God to work in you through these circumstances.
As we slow down, it is also important to find rhythm. Perhaps you are on furlough, or working from home, or simply stuck at home. Tom Johnston, a longtime mentor, urges us to regain spiritual, physical and social rhythms. In other words, get up at a regular time. Get dressed even if you don’t need to go out. Get out of the house to run, walk, or go for a ride. Work at set times. Reclaim some structure and normalcy in your lives.
Sometimes when we have more unstructured time, our spiritual rhythms lapse. Take this time to establish or reestablish regular times of prayer and Bible reading. Set a particular time in the day to cultivate these practices. We supply Daily Bible readings every day which include a Psalm to pray through and three reading tracts: a Gospel, New Testament, and Old Testament readings. We provide these resources at https://pacificunionconnect.com/daily-bible-readings/. Give them a try.
You might also consider these practices:
- Pray through the Lord’s Prayer
- Pray through the Psalms
- Tic-Tac-Toe Prayer
- Discipling Friendships
- Gospel Meditation
Find a set of practices and a set time of day and be consistent in practicing. Reclaim continuity in your spiritual lives, even if our normal church routines have been disrupted.
Finally, make sure you find ways to connect socially with others, even if we are currently restricted. Write letters. Make phone calls. Stop by and hang out outside on their porch. Grab a coffee and sit outside. Find some daily and weekly social rhythms; get creative within the restrictions that God has placed on your life.
How will you slow down and find some rhythm? Please share your comments below.
If you are interested in learning more about slowing down and finding rhythm during Coronavirus, check out these resources:
- A Candid Conversation on Leading Well in Crisis – Peter and Geri Scazzero (https://www.emotionallyhealthy.org/a-candid-conversation-on-leading-well-in-crisis/)
- Tom Johnston – Regaining Continuity (https://vimeo.com/447954526)