As we all gear up for Christmas we can’t help but feel differently than we ever have before. COVID has changed everything for us all, from our emotional and mental health to our relational opportunities and spiritual security. It’s interesting how in the midst of a crisis we tend to respond either by wanting to fight or wanting to flee. You’ll need to identify what your default is but the interesting thing about this phenomenon is regardless of which response is yours, the object or destination of this action seems to matter little. For example, if your default is to fight, some of us will fight the government and its guidelines and others will be negative towards your spouse. If your response is to flee, some will physically flee or hide and others will seek relief in a substance or some other distraction. The bottom line in the midst of this crisis is most if not all of us feel like victims.
What if we decided to stand up to the “normal” and “expected” and began to be active rather than reactive, to make choices rather than complain and to grow rather than simply endure? Let’s look at a few areas where this COVID Christmas could become something meaningful in our lives. This is your COVID Christmas Challenge:
- Expose reality and recalibrate – many of us don’t want to see what is really there, and yet as people of faith this crisis is exposing what was already there. Unfortunately, many of us have realized how little we really trust God or how surfacey our connection with Him really is. Too many of us have become content to allow the church to be central in our faith while taking very little personal ownership. Without the weekly “hit” of a sermon and music set, some of us have felt lost or simply carried on without much thought about our faith. The problem is what is really exposed is how weak we really are and the things we are hoping in are not sufficient for the challenges we’re facing. We must choose to recalibrate around what matters most and plant deep roots by the still waters of God and His Word. We must begin to read the Bible for ourselves and pray for more than just our meals. I would strongly recommend immersing yourself in Colossians 3 for a while – it will do all the heavy lifting necessary in this first challenge.
2. Enjoy the People In Your Life – while we’re busy “waiting” for this to be over, there are people all around us and we have opportunities like we rarely have ever had before. Whether it’s your family or friends this is the time to connect, not disconnect. One of the saddest things about this pandemic is when we don’t get to go to the places we typically go, and we no longer see the people we see that we simply forget. My guess is there is someone right now who would love a text message, an email, or a phone call from you right about now. Have we forgotten how to love, or maybe we never really knew how? What a great opportunity we have to practice new skills and renew old ones. I’ll give you a hint, make it about them and not about you. Ask good questions and actually listen to the answers (and if you want a star, ask a follow-up! :))
3. Engage in the Everyday with an Eternal Perspective – I am a visionary person and so I tend to live a lot of my life in the future. And when it comes to a crisis like this my thoughts of the future are when we’re through this. The problem with this mindset is I have a hard time being present today with the people I’m with. To engage in the everyday means I will be present which has a number of pragmatic implications. For one, that means I will choose to limit my social media and phone usage. Social media and games on our devices can become another form of escape. Limit yourself so that either you can engage with people around you, or you’ll have the space and capacity to make a call or reach out to others. Secondly, stop talking about “when this is over” and start making memories right now. Your life need not be on hold, it’s time to step up to the opportunities that are more clear than ever! And finally, live your life with an eternal perspective which means we focus on the things that last forever and the mission that Jesus has left us with: to make disciples. A disciple is simply someone on the journey towards God and who He made us to be. We can make choices now to step forward on that journey, and also influence and help others on that journey. This could be reaching out to someone far from God, or encouraging someone who already knows Him. The key is to see everyone and everything from an eternal and discipleship perspective.
COVID doesn’t need to win here. This season can be the ideal opportunity to do things that are long overdue. You and I have a unique chance in time to not fight or flee but to forward the purposes of God in our lives and the lives of others. Part of me wonders if God is leveraging this season of waiting in order to align His children around what matters most and reach those who need Him more than ever. You and I have the choice of what to do with the challenge before us. I pray you’ll stand up with me and accept the COVID Christmas Challenge!
(Feel free to share your thoughts and your commitments and experiments with your challenge in the comment section below).