The Crisis After the Crisis
It may take weeks, it may take months, but at some point in 2020, the COVID-19 crisis will come to an end. Kids will run down school hallways once again, restaurants will be filled with people eating gigantic entrees never meant to be consumed by a single person (myself included!), and Tom Brady will be throwing a football to his new Buccaneers teammates.
Yes, at some point later this year, life will return to what we might call “normal.” But if we’re not careful, a different kind of crisis will present itself. One not lethal to the body, but deadly to the soul, to the family, to the church. And for every single day that God graciously gives us after the COVID-19 crisis, it will be absolutely vital that we are intentional to not allow this other crisis to arise.
As of this writing, it’s been ten days since the NBA shut down, which was the first huge domino to fall that has led to the quarantined, quiet life most of us are living right now. During these ten days, I, as with pretty much the rest of the world, have had my daily routines and comforts almost completely stripped. No more sports to watch. No more gym to go to. No more friends over for dinner. No more gathering face-to-face with my church family. No more sports to watch. No more quiet home to work in. And worst of all, no more sports to watch.
But there are still 24 hours in a day. Still 7 days a week. Still the same amount of time to fill, even during the times that seem to pass sooooooo sloooooowwwwwwly. So what has been added to my day? How have I been spending this newfound time on my hands? Well, I bet many of you will have the same answers as me.
For the last ten days, I have begun every day with reading my Bible. Every. Single. Day. I can promise you, in my 43 years on this earth, all spent as either a child in a churchgoing family or the husband and father of a churchgoing family, I have never gone ten consecutive days reading the Word of God.
And not only that, but my devotional time has literally been the first thing I have been doing when I get up, sometimes even before the coffee maker has finished brewing. Again, that has almost never been the case before these last ten days. For longer than I can remember, my day has gone: wake up, work, breakfast, gym, work, lunch, work, dinner . . . with a devotion fit in there somewhere whenever I decide I have ten minutes to spare. But not during these last ten days. It’s wake up. God. Rest of the day.
Also for the last ten days, we’ve had dinner together as a family every single night. I’m sure most of you can say that too, since, you know, nobody can go anywhere. Hasn’t it been awesome to eat with your family? And not only that, but we’re never in a hurry to eat and run. There’s no baseball practice to get to. No hockey game to turn on. No run club to . . . well, run to. We just eat and talk, and there’s never any reason to look at the clock.
And one of the things we’ve added to our dinner conversation is what all of us read in the Bible earlier that day. Have you experienced what a blessing it is to listen to your son or daughter tell you what passage in 1 Samuel they read that morning, or what Bible-reading plan they just started using? Try it! It’ll make you forget all about only having four rolls of toilet paper left.
Also for the last ten days, I’ve been out on public trails either running, walking, or biking a lot. And oftentimes I’ve been doing so with my family, as I’ve noticed many, many others are doing too. And it’s been incredible. I’ve been making a point to say hi to every single person I pass, and they are too! I don’t know if this can be said for everywhere in the country right now going through this crisis, but the people in my town that I pass on the trails are being so overly friendly. It’s been really encouraging. People love smiling and engaging with other people again! (But not hugging or shaking hands . . . we’re not there yet.)
Finally, I also started leading a short Bible study with my family after dinner last Sunday night. It was nothing fancy. We just read fifteen verses out of Mark 1 and then I asked five already prepared questions. But we were reading and discussing God’s Word together around the table. And I had to confess to them that I was ashamed I hadn’t been doing that before. That was on me. I had failed them in that regard. But I want to build up better habits and disciplines now, and I told them just as much.
And that brings me to what I mean by the crisis after the crisis. When the COVID-19 days are behind us, when sports arenas, restaurants, and schools are packed once again, will I revert to my take-it-or-leave-it devotional time? Will I stop being intentional about talking to my family about their devotional times? Will the family Bible study go to the wayside? Will everyone exercising outside go back to looking down at their phones and not talking to those they pass? Or will I continue these better habits and disciplines that God has graciously awakened me to during these last ten days?
If I leave them behind, if I revert back to my old ways . . . and if others do too, especially those who call themselves Christians . . . then I dare say that would be an even more devastating crisis. And it wouldn’t be one that can be healed with any malaria medication or Z-PAK or any other medicine our amazing doctors are coming up with to treat COVID-19. In fact, the only actual healing of it may just be another pandemic like the one that has woken up myself and many other Christian brothers and sisters I’ve been talking to. Because the fact is, I had to be stripped of all these comforts in my life so as to realize what was really missing from it.
And now that I’m finally nourishing my life with what had been previously missing, I don’t want to lose it. Indeed, that would be a crisis that would truly destroy my family and me.