Now and Then

Every few months, I take part in something called the Small Group Huddle. I gather with other pastors who oversee the small groups for the congregations they are a part of, and we talk shop.

Due to social distancing guidelines, this week’s gathering took place on video chat, which actually allowed for more people to participate than usual. We discussed how our groups are meeting and changing during the quarantine, as well as shared resources and methods for ways to make the transition easier for everyone.

In addition to the excellent ideas that I always receive during these times (and usually steal to pass off as my own), something that was brought up has stuck in my brain for the last few days. One of the participants in the huddle asked us some version of this question:

“What are you doing during this time that will stick with you when things go back to normal?”

This query is absolutely relevant in the context of a small group pastor’s day-to-day operations, but I think it might be important for all of us to consider during this strange chapter in our history.

You’ve probably already encountered some big changes in how your time is being spent and how your schedule has been arranged. If you’ve got kids at home all day, you may now be navigating the world of homeschooling. If you usually commute to work, you might now be figuring out how to get your tasks done from the comfort of your own home. If you’re like me, and you find you now have a lot more free time on your hands (closed schools means far fewer reasons to drive kids there), it’s possible you are still figuring how to fill these newly-vacant hours.

 

I want to encourage you to take a few minutes and reflect.

Ask yourself these questions:

“How are things different than usual?” What am I doing now that I wasn’t doing before?,” and “What do I need to keep whenever life returns to what it used to be?”

Obviously, some things are going to be largely out of your control. Kids will go back to school, highways will clog up during your commute, and that free time will start to slip away. However, simply because your schedule might revert to the status quo, doesn’t mean the rest of your life needs to do the same.

For example, one of my biggest strongholds in life is craving the feeling of being in control. I absolutely love having a regular schedule, one in which everything I do has been planned out and accounted for. So you may understand that this time of quarantine, during which a lot of my life has been altered without my permission, has not been my favorite.

What is left, then, is a choice: do I curse my circumstances, and, like Jonah after his plan for Nineveh to be destroyed was disrupted, refuse to change? Or do I evaluate what this new phase has brought, and attempt to roll with the punches?

I believe the smart choice for me is the latter. Rather than stand firm in my own fear of change, I need to remember King Solomon’s words in Proverbs:

 

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

 

It logically follows: If that is the smart choice for me to do now, wouldn’t it continue to be the smart choice for me always?

That’s one thing that I’m going to try to keep with me when we are on the other side of this season.

What about you?

Will your increased time at home reveal that you might need to carve out more time with family? Will working from home change your habits and understanding of what is truly important? How will you spend the time you’ve been given, even when normal life comes crashing back down?

At the end of the day, God will use this time to teach you something…your job is to listen.

 

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