By Mike Hess
For decades Americans have run into the ground two statements that summarize our lives as Westerners: “I’m so busy, I can’t get anything done,” and “I’m exhausted from my busy schedule.” And now we find ourselves in a circumstance we had never imagined—a mandatory shutdown. We are no longer free to meet the demands of our busy schedules. At this point it’s important to remember that not everyone finds him- or herself in this situation. Multitudes of medical professionals; local, state, and national leaders; police; firefighters; and caregivers are working endless hours treating the sick affected by COVID-19. If you are one of them, we give sincere thanks for you and pray for God’s sustaining strength as you treat the sick.
But many of us are finding ourselves living out schedules we had never imagined, schedules that include gobs of free time at home. Of course, life goes on and remains challenging for many. For example, kids are being homeschooled for the time being. Workers are adjusting to home offices or unusual work hours. Churches are coming up with innovative ways to equip the saints, love their neighbors, and reach the lost. Ministries (like Regular Baptist Press) are considering how to be flexible and offer ways to help churches respond while they’re unable to congregate.
How we respond to having large segments of extra time is an issue of stewardship. I have been reminded of Scripture’s stern warnings about how fast time passes and the brevity of life (Eccles. 3; James 4:13–18). Now we find ourselves with time, perhaps lots of it. We can use this extra free time to focus on our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Let’s not forget, God has ordained this time, and He demands that we steward it well. Let’s consider together how we can be making the most of the time (Eph. 5:15) for God’s glory:
- Renew the sweetness of your relationship to Scripture. With extra time there’s no need to rush. Take your time to slowly absorb the life-changing truths of God’s Word. Consider how you can read Scripture together as a family or a married couple. Commit specific times to hiding the Word in your heart through the discipline of memorization, not for the purpose of bragging or impressing others on social media, but for your own soul, with the sincere motive to know and love God more.
- Renew the refreshment that long periods of prayer provide. Finding time for unhurried, quiet, focused, God-concentrated, and Scripture-directed prayer is not an easy task in our hectic society. If we are honest, finding just 15 minutes of quiet solitude to pray can be a challenge. There’s so much to be praying about and so many people who need our prayers. When we’re convinced God hears us and is sufficient for all of our needs, we can’t help but cry out to Him. An extended amount of time in the Word of God and in the presence of God calms our fears, restores our perspective, and brings refreshment to our weary souls.
- Renew the relational joy that closeness of family brings. American families have the unexpected opportunity of being under one roof for extended time. No restaurants to go sit down at. No malls for shopping. Not one open amusement park. No live sports on TV. Family is one of the greatest gifts of God’s grace. Face-to-face time with family is always greater than Facetime.
- Renew your commitment and appreciation for your local church. Your pastors and church leaders are facing something that was never covered in a seminary class: how to effectively make disciples during a worldwide pandemic. A pandemic so severe that churches, for the time being and to avoid the spread of COVID-19, are unable to congregate. I imagine that you miss gathering with God’s people on Sundays. We believers know that no matter what the outcome of this pandemic might be, the church will one day be gathered in the presence of our Savior in Heaven at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, where we will praise the One Who shed His blood to make us His own (Rev. 19:9).
One thing many Christians do not do well is rest. By rest I mean intentionally taking time away from the daily grind and routine and disconnecting our minds and bodies for the purpose of refueling for more effective service. Jesus exemplified this for His disciples (see Mark 6:31 as an example). May we steward this extraordinary time by entrusting the situation to God and using our extra time for His glory.
Mike Hess serves as national representative of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.