“Wake me up when it is all over” – that’s what I have heard people say in the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping the world, in fact we have caught ourselves asking if this is all just a dream or if this is our new normal. At the moment we are choosing isolation and to remain at home as a kindness to society, as a way of protecting ourselves and others. It is the right thing to do and yet it can feel pretty lonely and foreign.
In Australia the Prime Minister has talked about putting businesses into “hibernation” through the crisis and to be honest it could be easy to see this time as exactly that – a time of retreat. A time to lock down and disappear from life, from people and maybe even from God. However, that isn’t our best option here – truth is we have an opportunity to seek God in this time. To turn our faces heavenward and our hearts toward surrender and obedience. To create some daily disciplines that hopefully keep our faith stirred and strong and allow us to cultivate a rich spiritual life in spite of circumstance…
So… we thought today we would share a few things that we do here at home that are proving to be helpful.
1. JESUS first… and then coffee (or Instagram or text messages or the news)
As you wake up, instead of reaching for your phone and going for the news… This is so obvious but go for the Bible app!
Go for the verse of the day, if nothing else. Within the YouVersion Bible app, they have reading plans and you can do those plans with people. I’ve discovered how good that is. I’m not inclined to want to complete a plan but doing the plan with someone else actually makes me make it a priority and put it first. And then I have someone to discuss it with as well, to chat about what I’m learning.
So, the first thing in the morning, I would suggest is wake up, reach for your phone and open the Bible app before anything else. Get that discipline happening. And in our team, as you guys all know, we’ve been doing streaks. Why not use this time to get your streak up?
2. Create reminders to pray.
One thing that I do regularly, even before this, is I have what I call “The 11ams” or my “Elevensies”. And that generally is a time when I stop and I pray for a whole lot of people that I’ve promised to pray for. So I write notes in my calendar and then it pings up. We can pray whenever, but the “Elevensies” could actually be a great time to “FaceTime Coffee” people and check in on them. So that I can touch base with them and connect with them, and there can be human interaction in a season where everything is pushing us toward isolation.
3. Create A Worship Environment
Worship can set you up for a really natural way of having constant conversation with the Lord all day. I read a beautiful quote by Eugene Peterson, in his book called “The Jesus Way”. And he says this,
“The way of Jesus cannot be imposed or mapped. It requires an active participation in following Jesus as He leads us through some sometimes strange and unfamiliar territory. In circumstances that become clear only in the hesitations and the questionings, in the pauses and reflections where we engage in prayerful conversation with one another, and with Him.”
Make space to hear and respond in this period… There are so many great resources that you can access.
The Hillsong Creative Micropod is out daily.
Hillsong Worship are doing live streams three times a week! In Australia that’s 9am (AEST) Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. And I believe that’s 3pm for Californian time on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Work out what those times are for yourself and be a part of that.
If you have a teenager Hillsong Young and Free are streaming youth online on YouTube every Friday night at 7.30pm Sydney time.
There are great songs and albums out to set the tone each day – worship playlists and podcasts help you to regulate and keep healthy minds. I’ve made a worship playlist that I just put on in our house all the time. And I actually wanted to write to a whole lot of worship leaders and go, “Hey, thanks for sitting at my kitchen bench and singing to me!” ‘Cause it’s made a real difference to the atmosphere of our home.
4. A Time For Everything
Screens are everywhere in this season, Zooms, FaceTime, Lifesize meetings and online everything. There’s so much content to consume that you actually have to start to decide what you will and won’t watch. I’ve had to begin to shape what work weeks and school weeks look like again and what weekends are. Different activities for different days so life doesn’t feel like one endless activity.
The other thing that is really helpful is to have start time and an end time to your day. And again, having a set week so that you do have time off. Or else work and social media and life and everything melts into each other, and you can feel like life is just all on top of you instead of it being in control.
I can remember when Rich worked from home in the early days, and Lils was little, he used to get ready properly for work, walk out the front door and walk back in! And at the end of the day he would do the same thing. Rich was able to change his thinking by clocking in and off, all by just having that kind of routine of going in and out. (only thing is I can’t convince my kids to wear school uniforms at home).
5. Go to church!
I would suggest having regular online services that you attend. Instead of jumping around and trying all sorts of different things and even different churches, just be faithful – go to the service that you normally would attend and do church, be in church! And contribute all the ways that you usually do.
Get your bible out, and your notebook, stand up in worship (bring out the instruments and sing loud), get on the chats and tell people you are there, join in on the Zoom gathering and prayer meetings, start a connect group with friends where you call and check on each other and share how the message has helped you. Do all the normal things… in a new normal kind of way (and put a Sunday roast on while you’re at church… cause you can)
6. Keep the fun alive
We actually have to make life fun in this season and not feel under it. So depending on what your circumstances allow you, mix it up! Think differently about what you can and can’t do. And don’t let the limitations confine you.
We will put the tent up in the backyard over school holidays and “go away” with the kids!
Maybe you need to work out how to exercise during isolation – there was a guy in Italy who ran a marathon on his balcony! – think wider than your limitation.
Invest in puzzles, boardgames, turn off the TV, plant a garden, reach out to people – some friends of our have started “doorstep exchanges” of all kinds of things to do at home.
7. Choose what goes into your tank
I know that some people struggle when they don’t have anything to do. And I think if you’re idle and just sitting around, that’s when your mind can go places that you just don’t want to be in. So, I would encourage you to proactively work out ways to fill that time, the time when you don’t have things to do.
Fran Olson in our team wrote a great blog post on using this season for practice.
Leanne Thomas, Jess Leclerc and Rachel Dusting have their art studios working overtime.
I have watched people in our team give themselves to writing songs and crafting music, writing projects and writing letters to neighbours and friends.
Give time to educating yourself – take an online course, finish masterclasses, we have resource at the Hillsong Creative YouTube and there are plenty of blog posts – positive, uplifting ones. Pastor Brian has been writing daily blog posts at the moment.
Some other things we are loving in the Langton household –
Alternatively focus your attention outwards…
Writing an email, text, or an actual letter can be a way to bless someone else. If you do this, you will actually find that this fills your soul and blesses you!
So, these are things we are doing and why don’t you comment below and add your own so that we can all encourage each other on the journey.
Thanks for being part of the story – see you tomorrow on the Micropod.