Updated: Apr 25, 2020
I'm Zoomed out. Not just of Zoom per se, but of all the content out there begging me to unlock its power to change me and reset me and make me the best quarantine version of myself. I admit at the beginning of lock down life I was all about this. I was ready to read books like never before and maybe even take a Masterclass on filmmaking by Martin Scorsese. I was going to dominate this quarantine! And now all this content I was hoping to engage in has felt more like what C.S. Lewis called "the kingdom of noise" and the tyranny of countless invitations to do this or become this exhausts me. The extent of my reading outside the Bible is the Cutiecorn saga to my 6 year old twins. That is it.
If there is something that church world in the West loves it is content. The more content the better! And add a global pandemic to this where people are locked in their homes and you have a recipe for more content than you know what to do with. I can fully admit that I, as a pastor, can also contribute to the problem! I admit it people! And I have contributed to it over the past month! Mea culpa!
There are countlessly increasing think pieces, blog posts (I know), podcasts (me again), live streaming services (I've been on those...oh dear), video bible studies, audio bible studies, Batman themed Bible studies (need to do that), Zoom meetings and many others resources meant to encourage and challenge followers of Christ to not "waste our quarantine" or to "redeem your quarantine". I think a great majority of these resources are fantastic and can be very beneficial for us in this time, but it can also lead us (is it just me?) to being exhausted by all the options. And I love content! I do! But I have become wearied by all the content out there clamoring for my attention, especially the spiritually weighted content. I must confess.
So all I want to add to the noise is the freedom to turn it all down. To zoom out from it all.
I want to give you the freedom to seek Christ and his kingdom first in this time. The freedom to be Mary in an online Martha world. There are many things to accomplish and there are many resources out there to accomplish them, but the most important thing is to set your heart unto the Lord in this time. You don't have to make your life group the most dynamic it has ever been, or figure out how to live generously like never before by the time stay-at-home orders are fully lifted, or feel the pressure to continue to project a greater spirituality to online masses then you actually have in your soul.
The measure of 'how you are doing' in Christ is not found by measuring how much you are doing for Christ, but by the measuring the quality of life in your soul.
You need to measure how content your soul is, how at peace your soul is in the midst of everything flying around. Are you experiencing the fruit of the spirit as you walk through this season? Productivity is not a bad thing at all, but it is not a fruit of the spirit and it cannot bear the weight that your soul has to connect in deep communion with Jesus.
But let's be honest, the quality of life in your soul is likely all over the map right now, right? The way, however, to cultivate a sense of stability and endurance for your soul in the midst of all this is to seek Christ first and to give yourself to him in prayer. That's the secret sauce. Not really a secret or a sauce for the matter, but it's a formula as old as time. You are welcome to add anything more to that that inspires you or makes your soul come alive, but you don't have to!
Be present to the presence of God and what he is speaking into your life, into this specific season of your life. There are things to learn in this time if we (I) will have ears to hear.
He is drawing you and many back to himself in this time. There is no doubt. But how tragic would it be in a moment when the Lord has turned down the volume of so many distractions in the world for us to feel the need to fill the void of silence not with contemplation, healthy boredom, and seeking God in his word and prayer but with the noise of Christian busyness and frantic activity, much less Netflix or endless iPhone scrolling. (True confessions, I've done both many times in quarantine world, so I get it.)
Archbishop William Temple wisely said "Your religion is what you do with with your solitude." When you have nothing to think about...what do you think about? That's your god.
We replace the noise over here for the noise over there and in doing so miss out on what God is longing to do in our souls through this.
King David asks one thing of the Lord and his one thing is instructive for what our one thing to should be as well. He writes in Psalm 27:4 “One thing I have asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” One thing to seek after. One thing to gaze at. One thing to inquire more deeply into. The beauty of the Lord. There are many good things to seek after, but this is the best thing. He is the best thing.
I am tired of this quarantine. Tired of the lock down. Tired of endless Zoom meetings. Tired of being tired. All of us are walking through this time in different ways with different pressure points and different ways we are seeking to cope with it. And there may be some good days, some okay days, and some days that nearly break you. I've got good news for weary hearts. Simple, but good news.
There's new mercy today. And tomorrow. And every day. So take each day as it is. Zoom out from your world and into a larger map view of what God is doing and zoom down into the Word and spend time there. Spend time in prayer, real and honest and wrestling prayer. And reach out to someone else and send a text of encouragement or gratefulness to them. We are in this together. So is our God. Let's not miss him.
Rest in daily mercy.
Repeat steps 1 thru 3.