Ask Pastor Adrienne column: Free but incarcerated!
This may sound crazy, but I’ve never felt so free. We’re all imprisoned by this virus but somehow it’s freeing. What’s happening?
A: My peers in ministry, parishioners, friends and relatives are struggling with our shelter-in-place mandate (those of us not working 24/7 like most clergy, medical or essential professionals.) We’re self-distancing and aching for contact with the outside world; missing our routines and finally appreciating our daily lives that have been entirely derailed. Yet I’m hearing this “free” comment from many Christian people. It’s because we’re living for the first time in a boat without oars, gliding over open water and free from the heavy weight of our predictable paths. We are strangely untethered in our homes.
We don’t know what’s really happening outside our four walls. We don’t have oppressive deadlines anymore since everything’s “wait and see.” Rat-race obligations and hectic schedules; running pillar to post to accomplish and achieve has all gone out the window. We’re floating unmoored on still waters; free to appreciate and enjoy our homes, our families, our God ... and the new pace of life that’s been forced upon us.
This demonic virus was sent to oppress everything, especially God’s people. It was assigned to steal, kill and destroy the world as we know it (John 10:10). Yet God is using it for good in the lives of his people just like he famously told the prophet Jeremiah: “The Lord said, ‘Surely I will set you free for purposes of good; surely I will cause the enemy to make supplication to you in a time of disaster and a time of distress’” (Jeremiah 15:11, NASB). We’re resting, strengthening and preparing. We’re thinking about things with uncluttered minds and making important changes. We’re accomplishing tasks we’ve had no time for, as we put our houses in order. God’s people are temporarily stuck on the side of the road, free from the exhausting, debilitating, relentless highway of American life for a “Selah” moment of indefinite time. We may choose to see this as a gift. I know I do.
The first five days were surreal. Then the next five found us strangely feeling like we were on a type of vacation. Now we’ve adjusted as best we can to being home more; working remotely and sequestered. We pray daily; we’ve dusted off Bibles and books we now have time to read. And we find ourselves remembering who we are. We’re loving our neighbors and forgiving the petty, stupid qualms that mean nothing now. We’re throwing our tie-lines soundly around the Savior instead of the counterfeits we’d rooted inside our lifestyles and belief systems. God’s goodness and kindness are evident to us as we look around our comfortable, safe homes and thank Him for everything we have.
Above all things, we’re interceding for the families of the dead; the sick and dying. First responders, medical workers, hospital staff and elder-care facilities are on our regular prayer lists instead of once in a while. We’re praying for our president, economy and government like we should. We’re remembering our pastors and churches now struggling to balance a budget without offering plates. No, God’s got us right where he wants us - totally dependent on him and at the mercy of his glorious grace and provision.
You’re feeling free because in Christ you are. He’s given you a rest from the whirl of the world to experience this freedom. Soon, the scourge of COVID-19 will be over and life will return. While we have a moment, let us learn again the profound truth from Apostle Paul: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). We must move ahead and not look upon who or what we were before. New-normal is a good thing. Many chains have been loosed and have fallen away. God is asking us to stay free.
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