It’s been seven days to date since I am on a self-impose home quarantine. I started on Sunday 3/15 and have only gone out of the house twice this week, to do immediate groceries (not panic buying) and haul take-outs (yes, it’s a haul because I don’t cook so take-out + fridge + steamer = meal). I bought supplies enough for this week and maybe half of next week. I kind of think that I have a rebel personality, that is when everyone else is panic buying, I don’t.
My city has already imposed a much stricter community quarantine guidelines. No one can come in and go out of my city without proper identification or certificate of employment that they work or live here. We already have curfew hours. Coffee stores have reduced to grab and go (take-out orders only) and supermarkets have imposed body temperature scanning upon entry. One supermarket I went to mandated all shoppers to wash our hands with soap and water upon entry. Yes, they have a sink, faucet with running water & safeguard soap.
The human heart forgets the little things that make up the big things
Washing of hands and other hygienic habits are practices that should have already been in place COVID19 or not. But the human heart forgets the little things that make up the big things and remembers it only when life as we know it is threatened.
My journal entry on 3/14 reads:
“My COVID19 thoughts – it’s as if the Lord is using this for good. Surely, COVID19 is not from Him. Don’t believe anything bad about God. But knowing that a good God can use the evil in this world and turn it into good, He seem to be using this for the world to slow down and stop. Sabbath after all means stop, not just rest. The world’s pace is headed for a train wreck. It’s at a pace that if it continues this way, we can no longer handle it.
Only God is Infinite. Us, earthlings are limited. Only God is Omnipotent (All-Powerful) and Omniscient (All-Knowing). Us, human beings are not no matter what scientific discoveries or technological innovations we make.
COVID19 as dangerous and serious as it is, the Lord Jesus can use this to slow us all down and consider our ways.“
Quarter 1 of 2020 hasn’t been easy. Earthquakes. Floods. Tornadoes. Now, COVID19. Most of us are staying home and self-isolating until COVID19 situation gets better. The economy is declining, but pollution has decreased dramatically according to this report.
It is understandably worrying that we might face another economic crisis, but maybe, just maybe this is what we need – consumerism to stop, production to decrease, air to get fresher, so that we can clearly understand that people matters more than profit, health is indeed wealth and that we are ultimately not in control.
Maybe we need to see that we earn to share, we receive to give and that we are blessed to be a blessing. The most affected in this COVID19 crisis are the senior citizens and the poor, the no work-no pay daily wage earners. Maybe, it’s time for us to see things beyond our wall of privilege and comfort.
Now that we are forced to slow down, consider this an opportunity to evaluate what really matters to you and why you do what you do.
Now that we’re spending our time at home – if you live in a big house you have plenty of space to roam around, if you have a small condo unit like mine, it takes only 5 steps from your bedroom to your kitchen/living – it’s the perfect opportunity for us to slow down and attend to our soul.
A in our P.A.U.S.E. acronym is for Attend to your soul & consider your ways
Our soul gets lost when we hustle hard.
Work becomes an excuse to drown the emptiness inside. We don’t even recognize it sometimes.
But why do we work, toil and labor so hard?
Why do we gather wealth? For what?
Why do we seek comfort?
How long was it since we’ve been intentional to help the poor, in the community we dwell?
The secret to a strong, healthy, content and fruitful life lies in how we work with God in all aspects of our lives. Natural gifts, external circumstances, and special opportunities are of little significance. The good tree, Jesus said, “bears good fruit” (Matt. 7:17). If we tend to the tree, the fruit will take care of itself.
Proverbs 4:23 says this –
Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life. (NASB)
So above all, guard the affections of your heart,
for they affect all that you are.
Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being,
for from there flows the wellspring of life. (TPT)
The quality of our souls will indelibly touch others for good or for ill. So we must never forget that the most important thing happening at any moment, in the midst of all our labor and toil, is the kind of persons we are becoming.
Are you becoming a distant husband? A distant daddy? A distant wife? A distant mommy?
Have you gotten in touch with your closest friends lately?
When was the last time you did a favorite hobby?
God is greatly concerned with the quality of character we are building. The future He has planned for us will be built on the strength of character we forge by His grace.
Practical ways to attend to your soul
1. Direct and redirect Your mind constantly to God.
Dallas Willard calls this “Practicing the Presence of God”. This is the fundamental secret of caring for our souls.
We first receive God into our minds by receiving Jesus. Then, we read His Word, the Bible. Then, we read it again. Then, we keep His Word close to our hearts by meditating on it as we move through the events of the day and we think about it when we lie down at night. We open it again the next morning when we awake.
If this isn’t yet a habit, beginning it might prove to be a challenge, but just as any new habits, perfect practice makes it perfect. Just keep at it. If you have to set an alarm to intentionally meditate, do so.
In the evening, review how you did and think of ways to do it better the next day. As you gently but persistently continue in the practice, you will soon find that the Words of Jesus are automatically occupying your mind instead of the clutter and noise of the world. A new, grace-filled habit will replace the former ones as you take intentional steps toward directing and redirecting your mind constantly to God. Meditation on Him and His Word must become an integral part of our lives.
2. Worship God in ALL circumstances.
As the Word occupy our minds we naturally—and supernaturally—come to love God more and more because we see, clearly and constantly, how lovely He is. Worship is not another job we have to do. It is the single most powerful force in completing and sustaining restoration of our whole beings to God.
To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever. (Revelation 5:13)
When we worship Him, we yield control to Him. We trust Him.
3. Attend to your feelings.
Personal soul care also requires attending to our feelings. Emotions are a real component of life and of our lives in Christ. Some allow their emotions to defeat them. Remember that our emotions are ours to deal with. No one is responsible for our emotions and we are not responsible for someone else’s.
Let our emotions be our gauge, not our guide. Emotions were created to function as a gauge, not a guide. They are like a car’s dashboard indicators, not it’s steering wheel. The dashboard gives us information about how the vehicle is functioning. In the same way, our emotions provide valuable information about our spiritual conditions. They are often more truthful than our minds in telling us what we value, what we believe, and how much we value and believe these things.
When emotions talk, we need to listen. We should pay careful attention to what they are saying. That doesn’t mean we obey our emotions. We don’t put our brains in park and let emotions drive us around. No. Hearts are out of balance when emotions take the lead.
4. Silence and Solitude
We practice these by finding ways to be alone and away from talk and noise.
We rest, we observe, we “smell the roses”, we do nothing. This discipline can be used of God as a means of grace. In it we may even find another reminder of grace—that we are saved, justified by His redeeming power not by our strivings and achievements.
“Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psalm. 46: 10).
God’s provision for us and for His work through us is adequate. We do not have to “make it happen.” We must stop shouldering the burdens of “outcomes.” These are safely in His hands.
God never gives anyone too much to do. We do that to ourselves or allow others to do it to us. We may be showing our lack of confidence in God’s power and goodness when we strive so hard.
May we allow the peace of God to sink deeply into our lives and extend through our relationships to others.
Questions for reflection | Actionable steps you can do
Consider your answers to these questions from Andy Stanley’s sermon series – It Came from Within:
- Is everything ok in your heart?
- You mad at anybody?
- Got a short fuse and don’t know why?
- Are you waiting around for somebody to come to you to make things right?
- Have you had extended imaginary conversations with anybody lately?
- Do things come out of your mouth on regular basis that you have to apologize for that embarrass you that you have wonder where did that come from?
- Have you secretly celebrated somebody’s failure in the past 7 days?
- Got any secrets eating at you?
- Anything going on that you hope nobody discovers?
- Is there a question you hope no one ever ask you?
- Have you lied recently to somebody that you love?
Here are additional questions from the Fight Club by Passion City. These questions are mostly asked of guys, but ladies can totally benefit from answering these questions, too.
- Have you intentionally pursued your relationship with God?
- Have you made a priority to love and lead your family well?
- Have you looked at anything or been involved with anyone in a way that would compromise your purity?
- Have you been honorable and lived with a sense of mission, leveraging your life for others?
- Have you been completely honest about the above questions?
Reflect back on a period of time (it could be as small as the past 24 hours or as large as the last 3 months) and consider what was energy-draining and what was life-giving. You can do this in whatever areas are most relevant for your life right now – personal, relational, or professional (work).
I hope you’ll take a little time to lean your head gently against the heartbeat of your life and discover what brings you joy, what feeds your soul, and how Jesus might want to lead you into the next moment to come.
Let COVID19 be an opportunity for you to attend to your soul and consider your ways.