Distance on One Hand, Closeness on the Other

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For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1

My fourteen-year old son commented at the dinner table last night how much he has enjoyed all the meals we’ve been sharing together lately. He loves to eat and has a monstrous appetite, but he wasn’t referring to the food.

I think he was talking about the large blocks of time we’ve been spending together as a family, something we didn’t get to do nearly as much pre-pandemic.

My wife commented later that all of our children seem to be thriving emotionally, even with the challenges of online learning and less social interaction. I agreed. I haven’t seen them this playful and giddy in a while. For example, the other evening I finally had to politely ask our four daughters, ranging from age 8-19, if they could lose their fake British accents for just a few minutes and resume normal conversation with the rest of us.

They just giggled.

Like the opening line of Charles Dickinson’s A Tale of Two Cities goes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” In some ways, these are very good times, but in other ways these are awful times.

Most families I have spoken with (from a distance) agree that they are relishing all the unhurried time together to work on house projects, play games, and watch movies. In some ways, they don’t want to resume life as normal. They don’t want to return to going 100 mph in different directions every day and every evening as they did when life was normal.

Yet, on the other hand the tragic loss of life, economic reversal, and the loss of face-to-face Christian fellowship are harsh realities that are beginning to take a toll. With the additional time on our hands, some of us are enjoying renewed intimacy with Jesus but at the same time we deeply miss the company of our brothers and sisters in the faith.

It’s a paradox. In some ways, it’s good, yet in others, it’s bad. It’s part of the tension of life these days and it has many of us struggling to keep perspective.

Here are two very simple ideas to help process the tension you might feel right now, caught between the best and worst of COVID 19.

1. Enjoy and appreciate the good parts. It’s okay to say that you appreciate a more relaxed schedule and time to do things you haven’t had opportunity to do for years. God knows, many of us needed a change of pace. Look closely and you’ll see His grace in this epic disruption of your life.

2. Ask God for help with the hard parts. Let’s face it, fear and anxiety have run rampant over the last couple of months. The enemy has leveraged this situation to mercilessly toy with people’s hearts. I’m one of them. The good news is that God delights in hearing from us anytime, but especially when we are feeling fearful and anxious (See Hebrews 4:16; Philippians 4:6-7). If you’re having a hard time, tell God about it. He wants (and deserves) to be your GO-TO.

It’s a strange time for sure. There’s distance on one hand, but closeness on the other. I don’t like the distance and look forward to putting it behind. In the meantime, thank God that He has stayed close as ever.

It’s a new day with God. Run with it.

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