Deb Griest, Executive Director Seeking Stillness Ministries
Revelation 21:5 tells us that this is true – God has the power and is making all things new!!! Great news, especially in these times when it feels like things are falling apart. My two favorite pandemic quotes have been: 1) “this has been the hardest Lent ever, in other years I only had to give one thing up,” (I saw this on Facebook), and 2) from Dr. Amy Acton, Director of the Ohio Department of Health – “many people feel like life is trying to shut us down, but I believe life is just trying to wake us up.”
In God’s perfect timing, the Spring Seeking Stillness Retreat that was due to be this weekend was titled: Wake Up: God Is At Work All Around You. More about the rescheduling of this retreat later in this piece, but here’s one of the scriptures that will be central to that retreat when God allows it to take place:
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
These verses from Ephesians Chapter 5 in which Paul is encouraging the people of Ephesus (and us) to take a look at our lives and make intentional choices about the ways the temptations of the culture have crept in. He is asking them to re-evaluate their lifestyle and really challenge the things that their behavior says they value.
This type of re-evaluation is REALLY tough to do in the midst of life – especially a busy life. All of us have conformed our lifestyles to what is comfortable, what is socially acceptable (“normal”), and what we think is expected. Since being born we have been on a quest ensure we are physically, relationally, emotionally, and financially secure.
As humans we want to feel loved, fit in, be safe, and prosper. Each of us writes a story about what these assurances will look like in our lives. Coronavirus has given us a chance to reformulate this story about what we need and what we will do to get it. This time in our human history is what psychologists define as a pattern interrupt or significant emotional event. Whether you are crazy homeschooling with noisy kids and work-at-home responsibilities or stuck at home desperately lonely, this time could be the most important time of your life – if you choose to listen to God and re-write your story.
Over the past few weeks people have told me how much they have valued the time they have spent with family members – at home or virtually. They have admitted, with a sigh, how even being in a home of chaos, the eased expectations to do everything perfectly at home and work (if they have adopted this and not the opposite mindset) has been such a relief. For many getting additional sleep, cooking and eating healthier, and walking the neighborhood have helped them see how worn out they have been for a very long time. In many ways God has given us the chance to fulfill Ephesians 5:14-15 – “Wake up, sleeper (those walking through their lives as if sleep walking), rise from the dead (lack of awareness about how your lifestyle is killing you).
What have been your realizations from this time? What are you already feeling you will miss when things “go back to normal?
As Ephesians 5:14-16 goes on, when we wake up and rise from the dead we are told that Christ will shine on us. He will give us the power to re-write our stories and incorporate into our lives those things that will keep us from simply returning to our pattern of sleepwalking through a deadly lifestyle. It’s only through the Holy Spirit that we will have the courage to change – to buck the trends of the culture, to risk not being accepted by others, and in many cases confronting how we have defined “successful” at work and home.
God is asking you and me to challenge the values our behavior and choices reflect (not necessarily the things we say are important to us) – our Ideals – and “be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). Now, as talk begins of opening the country, for us to dig deep, stay awake, and make choices about our return to life in today’s culture.
How will your life be different post-pandemic than it was before? What tough choices do you need to make? What tough conversations do you need to have? What boundaries around your time, your family, your work, and your life are important to be building now? What is God calling you to do?
Do you have the courage to allow this pandemic to be the best thing that has ever happened in your lives and the lives of your family members? I know this sounds dramatic and overly idealistic, but I believe God IS asking us this question.
So… the Seeking Stillness retreat that was to start today has been rescheduled for June 12-14. The topic will be the same – a chance to spend a weekend contemplating the question this blog raises. Many of the people who registered for the sold-out retreat have transferred their registration to the June dates, but we do still have a few slots available. Online registration is not open at this point because who knows if the June dates will hold. If you are interested in getting your name on the list, contact me at debgriest@seeking*stillness.org. We hope to have a one-day retreat focused on “Making Decisions with God” at Bay Presbyterian Church on July 11 and another weekend retreat October 9-11. Registration will open for these events as the pandemic calms down.
Be safe, healthy, kind, and courageous my friends.