What habits would be good and right for us to exit the Panic of 2020 with? Good and right habits will be formed and shaped by a heart that is bending toward God, and by an essential stance in life that is humble – that is turned out toward others in self-forgetting love. And then, those new habits will then cause a new cycle – those habits will shape our hearts to bend toward God yet still more, and toward others in yet still more love. I’d like to think about this practically:
Heart. I’m old enough to remember the days of “Blue Laws” in my hometown – the laws that restricted most businesses on Sunday. I remember those Sunday’s as oddly special – the city was strangely quiet, more relaxed, more slow, with more time to think, because oh yeah – Target is closed today . . .
More than once I’ve thought about that time during this lockdown, when a Friday feels like one of those Sunday’s. The lockdown is reminding me of what we lost when the Blue Laws were repealed, but should be recaptured – the ability to Sabbath, to rest, and intentionally focus body and soul – our hearts – on God.
The world can’t rest – only the church can – because we’ve found a Person to rest for – a Person worth giving up everything to know.
When we Sabbath, we are reminded of how much we need God; how much we have received from Him (everything); how delightful is His grace to us, in the common things of life, and infinitely more so in Christ.
Yes, slowing down means we have to face more of what we were ignoring before. But sometimes God does this for a reason. We feel small under such thoughts. And yet at the same time – if we Sabbath in the gospel – we feel overwhelmingly, unbreakingly loved.
Humility. Which then frees us from ourselves, to look outward, to others.
Therefore, a question: what are the names of the people on your street? How to pray for them?
And have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an elderly or invalid shut-in? Well, now we’re all shut-ins. Now we all know something of what that’s like, year-round, in times of plenty and in times of panic. Who are those people, on your street? In this church? The humble want to know.
Habits. So then, considering these thoughts, what habits should we cultivate and keep from the Panic of 2020? I suggest at least three:
- Sabbath: taking the Sabbath seriously, for our joy in God.
- Citizenship: learning our neighbors’ names and life situations, and praying for them.
- Churchmanship: lovingly connecting with those who live under “lockdowns” all the time.
What next step will you take, to start a new habit?