updated September 2020
As COVID–19 appears to be slowly flatlining in the Eastern Territory, several companies have launched some rather savvy product advertising. Some are making accommodations for hard times that many people have experienced and are creating “deals,” so we can all get back on our feet.
A commercial produced by a communications company recently caught my attention. Regarding our re–entry into a new normal, the announcer said, “Let’s not just bounce back, but bounce forward.”
This phrase got me thinking; What have I learned from this time of social distancing, and how will I live differently and change for the better? I don’t want to just bounce back to the same way of living (not that there is anything wrong with that). But how can I do it with greater intention and meaning? How is God spurring me to being more Christlike?
In the book of Isaiah, the Lord prepares the children of Israel to be delivered from captivity in Babylon and to return home. He encourages them to be sensitive to His voice and direction, rather than assume things will be business as usual. “Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak, and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert; Waters will flow where there had been none” Isaiah 43:19 (VOICE).
In this verse, the Lord says He is doing a new thing, not a bunch of new things. Maybe you can identify with me when I say that I tend to undertake way too much. When I do, I become overwhelmed, I lose focus, and I throw up my hands and say, “I’ll never change.” I must keep in mind that my adversary is the master of confusion. I need to focus on one thing that I will do now or differently or be more intentional about or have a new perspective on or let go of because—God is calling me higher.
Someone once said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.” Let’s not bounce back into the “same old, same old,” but bounce forward into new ways of doing everyday things such as listening, acting or thinking.
“Be quick to listen, slow to speak.” —James 1:19
Maybe the “one thing” that God is calling you to do is be a better listener. Conversation is becoming a lost art. It sometimes seems as if we are talking at each other instead of with each other. For some people, this has become the sport of inserting their thoughts or experiences into a conversation to sound intelligent.
What would happen if we went into a conversation to intentionally focus on others, look them in the eye, and strive to be genuinely empathetic? A constant stream of words is not necessary. It is OK to have some quiet moments to allow contemplation of what has been said or to maybe just take a breath.
“…awareness is learning to keep yourself company. And then learn to be more compassionate company, as if you were somebody you are fond of and wish to encourage.” —Anne Lamott
This may sound strange, but sometimes we need to talk to ourselves. This is not some new talk therapy, but sound advice. The psalmist did just that when he said, “Why am I so overwrought? Why am I so disturbed? Why can’t I just hope in God? Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One who saves me and is my life” Psalm 42:5 (VOICE).
What would happen if we occasionally stepped back from a thought pattern and asked ourselves, If I continue down this road of thinking, where will it lead? Is it edifying? Is it God–honoring? The psalmist cautions us to be decisive rather than to listen to our emotions. Is the “one thing” God brings to our attention what we are already thinking?
Isaiah 43:19 tells us that God is doing a new thing and it’s “happening now, even as I speak.” Don’t think the responsibility is all on your shoulders. What’s the first step? Begin by sitting in God’s presence and truly listening long enough to hear what that “something new” is for you. Then ask Him, “where do we go from here?”
“We rise by lifting others up.” —Robert Ingersoll
Take a moment and ask yourself: What would my life look like if I were a kinder person? Is it possible this is the “one thing” God is calling me to do? It is important to note that, to some people, kindness means being naive or weak, when it actually requires being courageous and strong. Let’s be more like Jesus, who cared for everyone, regardless of their circumstances. Is the Lord’s “one thing” moving you forward to be a kinder, gentler person with everyone in your day?
by Major Lauren Hodgson
written by Major Lauren Hodgson, Spiritual Life Development, USA East