What A Great Time To Be Alive!
What a Great Time to Be ALIVE!
Ways to be a little sunshine during a time where people are feeling a little blue! (Warning: Long Post Ahead)
What a great time to be ALIVE! As the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, more and more businesses are sending employees off to work from home. Public schools are closing, universities are holding classes online, major events are getting canceled, and churches are even shutting their doors for weekend services. Even Disney World, Disneyland, and Six Flags have closed indefinitely, and the disruption of daily life for many Americans is real and significant — BUT so are the potential life-giving opportunities for so many of us that call ourselves Christians.
In a time of historical proportions, where fear and anxiety is at its highest levels, God has chosen us to be a part of it! The question is “What will YOU and I do to make a difference?” Think about it. Humans have been resilient over the years when their society has been disrupted. We have studied about the plague, the world wars, the times of economic depression, and other historical periods of time. One thing that made a difference, were people - humans - that decided to make an impact, make a difference, to bring hope, to offer help, to be the kind of human that adds to the world and chooses not to just take from it. Yes, we represent the world and we must be responsible but it is important to know that your world, your neighbor, your community needs people to step up and be the human that God created them to be. As I write these words, I am reminded about a young Jewish girl who was faced with adversity for her people. Her name was Esther and God had placed her in a troublesome and difficult situation that could eventually cost the lives of her people. When she shared her concerns to her Uncle about speaking up for her people, he said these challenging words to her, “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” ~ Esther 4:14. I’m not saying that we are in the same situation as Esther was in but what I am saying is that maybe God has allowed you to be at this point in history, with this particular community, with these particular circumstances to allow you and I to make a difference in the way we respond to these difficulties that we are facing today.
As we learn new phrases and new practices such as “Social Distancing” we must also know that this phrase does not mean the absence of “Social Interaction”. We were created for relationships and must walk through this season in community. I’m not saying ignore the guidelines and advice to help stop this virus, but I’m talking about finding ways to help, finding ways to bring hope, finding creative ways to make a difference during this time of a “national emergency” and “global pandemic”. Take time to read the ideas below but also think outside yourself and think of ways you can help! I’m sure I have not even touched the impact that we can do TOGETHER while still practicing “Social Distancing” and good and healthy hygiene. As you read, ask yourself how can I help during this historical time that God has allowed us to live. Here are a few ideas that might help and please feel free to add your own ideas and let’s help make a difference!
Have a Plan
Without a plan you will miss the mark. Don’t waste this time just binge watching but take this opportunity to make a difference, grow yourself in a specific area, learn a new craft, help out your community, serve your neighbors, stretch your faith, and do something kind. Don’t go through this season without a plan. It will help as we navigate together and we can make a difference in how our world faces this time of anxiety and fear.
Pray for the sick. Pray for the weak. Pray for those who need prayer. Pray for a cure. Make a list of people and places that you and your family, and friends can pray for during this next couple of weeks. If you do not know who or what to pray for, then jump on social media and ask how you can pray for others. Text your group and see what needs they might need prayer for. I’m sure there are people in your circle of influence that can use the prayer and it allows you the opportunity to serve others.
Join our country and others as this Sunday, March 15th has been declared a National Day of Prayer but also remember the words found in Scripture - “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV)
If you are not in the vulnerable population, then think about serving in an outreach project or in a non-profit. I’ve heard about many groups and individuals that had to take a break from volunteering due to their age or their vulnerability. Be smart about it but if you are not in the vulnerable community, then maybe you can be creative and find ways to fill in the gap for a volunteer who can not serve during this time. Here’s a good word from a renowned author of today:
“I don't want to live in the kind of world where we don't look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I can't change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.” ~ Charles de Lint
Call a Long Lost Friend
Maybe there is someone in your life that has meant a lot to you over the years but time has gotten in the way and you have just lost touch with them. Take this time to reconnect, to pick up the phone and give them a call. Speak words of encouragement and life to them. Let them know how much they have meant to your life or just encourage them in whatever words can speak life and hope into them. It’s sometimes good to just be reminded of the important role that they play in humanity. It is not only good for them but it is also good for the person speaking words of life, of hope, and of encouragement to another person. It doesn't have to be a long call but just a call to let someone else know that they matter to you!
Here’s a good quote to remember, “Remember, the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.” ~ H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Check on a Neighbor
Care for one another. Take time to check on a neighbor, a friend, and family member. Whether you have to walk a few feet or whether you have to walk a couple of blocks, we all have neighbors and this is a good time to just check on those that live around you. God tells us to love our neighbors and it is times like these that we can actually have a reason to discover who our neighbors are and if they might need help!
Don’t forget the words of Jesus, “The second (commandment) is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:31
Take a Walk
Get out and breathe the fresh air - you don’t have to be in crowds or around a lot of people. Find a new path to walk and discover a way to see new scenery along the way. It helps keep your perspective fresh. Walk yourself out of a blue mood. Studies have shown that even a 10-minute walk immediately boosts brain chemistry that increases a feeling of happiness.
Deliver a Meal or Needed Supplies
If you know someone who is in our vulnerable community that may not be able to get out or does not need to get out, find out what their needs are and send them a delivery. With technology and apps that provide deliveries, you can have a meal delivered, much needed supplies delivered, or find out what they may need to be delivered. You can do all of this without touching anything outside your own home. Some Nonprofits that usually do deliveries to shut-ins and our vulnerable communities have lost some of their volunteers but maybe we can help. Find out ways you can serve or have needed items delivered during this season. I have always loved the saying from Mother Theresa, “ If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Do what you can; not what you wish you could do!
Read a Book
Maybe this is the time to read that book you have always wanted to read. Maybe you have never had the time to read through the entire Bible. Take time to read one book whether it is a book in the Bible or a book that is gathering dust on your shelf. It's a start and before you know it, you could have a few books read. One of the books we are reading as a church together this year is Paul Tripp’s New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional. Find a book to read together as a family, as a group, as a community and find peace in the words penned by some great authors.
When we read, not only are we improving memory and empathy, but research has shown that it makes us feel better and more positive too. Science has shown that reading has some amazing health benefits, including helping with depression, cutting stress, and reducing the chances of developing Alzheimer's later in life.
Listen to a Podcast
Take time to learn something new, something to improve or grow yourself. Listen to a podcast that you would usually not listen to. Take this time to stretch your perspective and learn something new. A great source is RightNow Media. It does have a small charge for an account but it opens up the door for a variety of different resources to learn something new.
Post Hope Not Hurt
Social media is a great resource for us to stay connected to the world around us but make sure you are careful to spread hope and not hurt. Before you hit post or send, please ask yourself, am I offering hope or does this offer hurt. This is not the time to be divisive, to pick a fight, to make that comment, or to create panic. Be responsible with your own behavior on social media and make sure your posts and comments are adding life to others and not taking life from them. No matter what others may say, be the adult in the room and (as my Mom would say...) don’t get the devil in you trying to get it out of someone else.
Do a study
If you are in a Small Group, form a discussion board, open a ZOOM Account, or a Group Page and do a study together. If your group has a regular schedule for the study, keep your schedule. Take time to log online and do the study together. Again, RightNow Media is a great resource and the study allows you social interaction while you are observing “Social Distancing”.
Take the necessary precautions and use personal hygiene. If you are not feeling well, you can call your doctor or health line and seek their expert advice. Take care of yourself.
Watch a Service
During this tech savvy time that we live, we have so much at our fingertips that allows us to do what other generations could not do. We can actually go to church online. If your church does not have an online service, take the time to find a church that is offering one. Our link is marinershb.org if you can not find one to watch online.
If you are part of a local church and you have made it a practice to give to your church, then go online and give. Almost all churches and nonprofits depend upon your giving to continue the work of helping others. Take time to be generous and give. If you are in a good personal financial situation, then plan to give a little more. It will be needed and it will be appreciated as the church and non-profit organizations continue to help those that are around them.
According to psychologists and confirmed by Scripture, the human psyche is hard-wired to benefit from helping other people. But generosity can do more for you than just improve your emotional health. It can also improve your spiritual and physical health.
According to a recent study, volunteering service or funds to help someone else can lower your risk of high blood pressure, or hypertension, by as much as 40% in adults. Psychologists have suggested that this reduction in high blood pressure risk could be associated with positive social interactions. Healthy social behaviors can lead to better physical health overall. The Bible confirms this in Acts 20:35 ~ “And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Spend time with your family and think of ways you can help during this break. If we all pitch in and find ways to make our world a little better, then we will come out the other side of this much better than we were before we went into it. Think of ways you can help!
People are a little edgy right now. Their anxieties become frustrations and their frustrations can exhibit itself in unhealthy ways. Kindness is also infectious! As for you, be kind! No matter what happens, control your emotions and look for opportunities to be kind to your fellow humans.
If you panic, then you drown.That is a phrase I was taught as a young lifeguard at a youth camp. Drown in emotions. Drown in fear. Drown in doubt. Drown in selfishness. Drown in worry. We do not have to drown during this season. To combat panic, turn off the TV and take a walk. You can find areas at an outdoor park where there are not crowds and bring your emotions and anxieties under control. Take every thought captive. Scan the thoughts that are coming in and out of your mind. If the thought is negative and not healthy, then put it out. Don’t spend time thinking about things that are causing anxiety or fear. Replace it with good thoughts. Thoughts that will bring you peace. A good idea is to memorize scripture from the Bible. Google verses that talk about peace and learn what steals our peace and what thoughts will bring us peace. Then apply the truths that the Bible can teach us to not panic but bring unexplainable peace during his time period.
In John 14:27, Jesus says these words to his followers, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” Give people a gift during this very troublesome season, the gift of God’s peace!”
If you absolutely need help, then get help! There are places that can help with whatever the need may be. Call a friend, call a resource center, or call the church. If it is a medical emergency, then go to the nearest emergency medical service to get the help you need.
In most homes, parents have to work. If you have the opportunity to do your work at home, you can provide a safe environment for children, or if you are not working, then offer to do childcare for someone that has to work and is struggling to find child care for their children. What a blessing you will be to a parent that is worried and cannot find a place for their children while they work.
These are just some ideas. I’m not saying you have to do any or all of the ideas listed but what I am saying is be smart and don’t waste this time. Disruptions are for a reason! Be the difference in your world and let’s make the best of a very difficult season. Take care of yourself and take care of others. Observe the health and community guidelines but also be creative and think of other ways that you can help others. It is our time to make a difference. To care for one another. To help my neighbor. To learn a new perspective. To love one another. To dream a little. To provide hope. To provide help. To provide a hand. Whatever it is, use your time wisely and make an impact in the world around you during this time of anxiety and fear!
Well, these are a few of my ideas that might be able to help, but please feel free to add your own ideas. How are you going to make a difference over the next few weeks? Whatever you do, stay well and know that you are not alone! Praying for you all!