I had a fall whilst cycling the other day. I got back up and checked where I had injured myself. Thankfully, there were only a few scratches here and there and a slightly damaged sense of pride. I then tried to remember what happened, including what I was doing, what things I was doing wrong, and how I could prevent another fall in the future. Challenges and changes tend to have this effect. They can make us reflect a bit more about life.
The COVID-19 crisis has made me realise a number of things – here I share some of my reflections.
First, I am ever so thankful for the hope that we have in Jesus. COVID-19 has shown that there is only so much the government, hospitals and technology can do. It is only the hope of heaven that is real, certain and eternal. I always knew this, yet the current crisis has made me cling onto this truth even more.
Second, it has made me realise that I have a natural tendency to trust in idols (we humans are good at this!). What was my natural instinct when the world was being turned upside down? It was to rely on myself and to look out for myself. It was to rely on my intellect, resources and connections to get through the crisis, rather than to trust and depend on God. It was to make sure that I and my family were okay, rather than to be concerned for others. I think that these reactions are natural and understandable. Yet God calls me to seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and to rely on him to provide for my needs (Matt 6:33). Crises will always happen. I am praying that it will be an opportunity to grow in my dependence on Jesus and to put others first.
Third, I have realised the importance of having good gospel goals and self-control. The lockdown procedures have changed our routines and activities. It has meant that we can adjust and fill our timetables with what we think is important. If we prioritise growing ourselves and others in Christ, then we will spend our time there and plan accordingly. So even when things change, we will use our time, technology and resources to pursue those things. Knowing the why is important since it will determine what and how we do things.
Lastly, in terms of family life, I have realised to a greater extent that parents have a crucial role in their children’s development and growth. We know from the book of Proverbs that parents are to teach their children. Parents are to lead them onto the straight and righteous path, to teach them to avoid foolishness and evil, and that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Yet it can be so easy to delegate these tasks to others and to not see them as our responsibility and privilege as parents. I have been more amazed, appreciative and thankful for those who have taken on more responsibility during this time, including many mothers who have had their workloads at least tripled. It is also an encouragement for fathers to take up the opportunity to humbly serve, to be involved and lead their families when there are so many changes, pressures and uncertainties.
In terms of ministry, I have noticed three things:
First, we need to keep the core things as the core things. There are so many good things to be involved with. A crisis means that we will focus on what we think is essential because we have limited resources and time. This period of lockdown and isolation has shown me the importance of having good disciplines which foster our dependence, knowledge and obedience of God. It has been disheartening to see people struggling because they have not had good godly routines and may have relied too much on others or on programs to encourage them. Let’s encourage our people in this basic, core area of their own personal walk with God.
Second, personal discipleship is important and crucial. If all our members are disciples who make and mature other disciples who then make and mature other disciples, then a crisis like COVID-19 will not affect our mission drastically, aside from perhaps the way this is conducted! We will, under God, find a way to make and mature disciples.
Finally, looking out for the lost sheep is essential, yet easily forgotten. When the crisis hit, my first reaction and the bulk of my energy was spent on creating something that would serve our church members. Yet in the process, I lost sight of Christians who are struggling and non-Christians who are seeking. I needed to be reminded about Jesus who is the kind of shepherd who leaves the 99 to seek after the one. This is the God we serve!