Gillian Phillips writes:
We are not in control of many things at the moment, but we don’t need to feel out of control. We have no choice but to be dependent on the Lord, our shepherd and Saviour. We have the very strange privilege of seeing the world, our world, our lives differently.
Four ideas that may help:
Look up… We have been given life to live these days, each day, following the Lord of our lives. We have been given the opportunity to play such an important role: to be praying.
“The wonderful thing about praying is that you leave a world of not being able to do something and enter God’s realm where everything is possible. He specializes in the impossible. Noting is too great for his Almighty power. Nothing is too small for his love” (Corrie ten Boom)
• Commit to specific times of prayer (a bit like the ‘offices’ that religious communities observe). It could be for half an hour at coffee time, some time after watching the news, for a time before bed.
• Be creative as you like. Write you prayers, draw them, doodle them. Make notes to put round the house. If you live on your own, you can still pray out loud if that helps. God really doesn’t mind how we communicate with him and he wants to communicate with us in all sorts of ways too.
• On your ‘exercise’ outing, allow what you see spur you to prayer.
• Decide to limit how often you check the news but when you do, pick one thing you specifically pray for.
• Don’t forget to just sit with the Lord: start with 10 minutes still, hands open, and just say quietly in your heart ‘Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy upon us’. It may be over time this can be longer. We have time to enjoy his gentle presence.
Look out… Despite having to be physically distant from people, you may well find that you are in contact, daily, with far more people than you would usually be. There will be messages from people checking you are OK, distant family members who get in touch, information from organisations (churches, missions etc.) who are telling you about things happening around the world and in your community. This connection is a great joy. God knew all these connections all along, but they are suddenly being revealed to us. Rejoice in that. Take the task of connection, support, encouragement and care seriously.
But remember, you don’t have to do it all today. When this first stage has passed a connection made ‘out of the blue’ in a few weeks’ time will be very precious. I have found I have to keep writing lists so that I don’t forget to WhatsApp a friend in Australia who has just been in touch, write an encouraging email to the leader of the mission on whose Board I sit, try and set up a group chat with the people in my book group, or at least suggest what the next book we should be reading and when and how we can discuss it.
Look back… Sitting in your comfy chair, wondering what the future will hold can be unsettling and unknowable. However, we have been given this space to spend a bit of time looking back. In the Times newspaper recently there was an article encouraging each of us to have a go at writing a memoire of your amazing life thus far. Everyone has led a wonderful life and it is worth recording. You could write or type or make an audio record. You could start with just some very small memory: perhaps a description of your first school and first teacher, or a holiday when you were a teenager, or your first job. Be as detailed as you can. Nothing is too trivial to mention and those details are often the most fascinating (especially to a younger person reading about your life ‘in the olden days’)
Look down… Don’t forget to savour the details of life in these days. In the place you live, try and work out different places to be and notice the corners, textures, colours and patterns of the rooms.
If you can go outside each day for some exercise, stop and stare at the evidence all around us of God’s beautiful creation. The birds carry on building their nests, the leaves are gradually appearing on the trees, a child is still running and laughing at the other side of the park.
And this is still the ‘day that the Lord has made’ and we can still ‘rejoice and be glad in it’ (Psalm 118:24)!
Gillian Phillips is a writer, speaker, mentor, board member, mother and grandmother, and blogs at gillianfaithphillips.com. She is currently self-isolating due to coronavirus.