While I’m Waiting

A Comprehensive Guide to the COVID-19 Coronavirus Quarantine for Christians

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.

We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NLT)

If you are like most of the country (and world), there is a good chance you are spending lot of time at home lately. COVID-19 has caused increased regulations from state and federal governments to “stay home” and practice social distancing to help stop the spread of the virus. These announcements have caused a lot of fear and anxiety, but they have also caused a lot of people to feel a loss of purpose and identity. People who once dedicated so much of their time and lives to their careers, businesses, and organizations are now feeling lost, helpless, or just plain bored!

As many stores, venues, businesses, and even churches are closed down, one question a lot of people are asking themselves is: “What do I do now?” Is there something meaningful you could be doing to pass your time in “quarantine”? More specifically, what could Christians be doing in this time, even when they can no longer meet at church?

There are a lot of things people have found to keep themselves busy: Netflix, video games, nature hikes, to name just a few. There are many practical, beneficial, and even spiritual things you can be doing right now that can have a meaningful and lasting impact, even after this coronavirus mayhem has passed.

Let’s start with some general things to do to keep busy, then we will look at some great ways to invest in your spiritual life and advance the Kingdom.

Practical Things

Here’s a list of regular, everyday things you can do while confined to your home, or neighborhood.

Housework. Clean, disinfect, and organize your home. Dust those shelves that you haven’t dusted in years.

Clean out that closet that serves as a catch-all for the random items you find around the house that don’t have a designated home.

Organize the garage. Pick everything up off the floor and hang tools on hooks and racks along the walls. Maybe this way, instead of using your garage as a storage unit, you can actually park your car in there. How nice would that be!?

Remodel. If you are feeling extra motivated, now is the time to do some much wanted, or much needed, remodeling. Repaint your bedroom, update that bathroom vanity, rewire that light switch that sparks every time you turn it on (before you burn the house down). Not feeling up to construction projects? Rearrange the furniture in your living room and you’ll feel like you’ve remodeled at least one room.

Yard work. Now is a good time to start doing some work outside. It’s warming up a little and some fresh air will do you some good.

Beneficial Things

Grow your own food. Perhaps this has been a wake-up call to many of us to realize the importance of having a reliable food source. With the chaos we have witnessed in grocery stores, maybe this has helped us understand the importance of self-reliance and sustainable food sources. Go plant a garden. Can’t grow a garden where you live? Plant micro greens! There are plenty of alternative options for growing things that don’t involve a large, outdoor garden. You can grow many foods just using a plastic tray sitting in your window.

Read. What better way to pass the time indoors than to read a book? The benefits of reading are numerous. I won’t list them all because you need to be spending your time reading a book, not what I have to say about books. By reading, you can learn more about certain subjects that interest you and educate yourself on something that you had minimal knowledge of previously.

I once read a quote that said “Reading is the cheapest way to travel“. That is so true. Spring Break might have been ruined, but you can still travel to your heart’s content with the help of a good book. Reading a good fiction book is a great way to immerse yourself into another world, even when you are stuck on your couch.

Reading is the cheapest way to travel

Take the benefits of reading a step further and buy/order a book from your local bookstore. Local bookshops have a wealth of knowledge and book recommendations. They are a valuable resource that you need to tap into. A link to my favorite is here. If your local bookstore is closed to retail right now, order from them on their website. Now is the time to support them by buying your books locally (more on that below). If you don’t have a bookstore in your community, check out some book recommendations I have compiled in my posts “Bookends 2018” and “Bookends 2019” to get some suggestions.

Click here for some book recommendations

Shop local. Shopping local has always been important, and always will be. Unfortunately, many don’t realize just how important local small businesses are, until it is too late. People tend to not recognize the value of a business until it is gone. Local business owners invest in your community. They do that financially and personally. Small businesses donate money and products to local charities, sports teams, churches, clubs, and organizations. They sponsored your kid’s little league team. They donated parts and labor to repair your church’s furnace. They served food at the community shelter. They let you set up a booth outside their store to sell cookies. Did Amazon do those things for you? The money they make from their sales is invested right back into the community in which they do business. Do you want to create a ghost town? Because ghost towns happen when you don’t shop local.

Get in shape. Just because you can’t go to the gym doesn’t mean you can’t exercise and stay healthy. My high school baseball coach always told us, ever since we were little kids at camp, something that everyone can do to stay healthy, regardless of age or body type, is to do pushups, sit-ups, and run sprints, every day. You can do at least those three things at home. Go for a jog around your neighborhood. Walk on the treadmill. Eat healthy and stay active, even at home.

Clean up your community. Do you ever notice trash and litter along the roads when you’re going to and from work? Why not take some time to beautify your community by picking up trash along the roadways. Walk your neighborhood and surrounding roads, picking up trash you see along the way. Organize with your neighbors or your church group to hit different areas of town and make it a conjoined effort. You can also coordinate with local businesses and organizations who may want to organize volunteer groups, donate trash bags, or even supply a dumpster to throw all the bags into once they’re full. Everyone can benefit from a litter free community. Let’s take a day to fill some trash bags and do some good for the environment!

Learn a new skill. What better time to learn something new? Don’t put it off any longer. What is something you have always wanted to attempt? Book binding? Wood crafting? Sewing? Typing? Pickup a new hobby by learning new skills!

Ready to take quarantine to an advanced level? Start learning a new language. Start small with the basics. Learn how to ask for food, a drink, the location of the bathroom. My toddler has been learning colors and numbers in different languages by watching YouTube. So can you. Speaking multiple languages makes you more employable, a better traveler, and allows you to communicate with a larger range of people in a broader range of circumstances. Who knows, depending on how long this lasts, you might be a fluent bilingual speaker by the time you go back to work!

Check on your friends. With so many people stuck at home, there are a lot of feelings of loneliness right now. People can no longer go out to eat with their friends, catch a movie, or do much of any socializing at all. We are being told to stay home and only be in contact with those in our household. Well, guess what? A lot of people live alone. Or worse yet, they live with an abusive person. It is no surprise that domestic disputes and suicide numbers are up. Humans are social creatures, created to live in community. Isolation is not natural for us. Call, or text, your friends. With all the methods we have of communication in this era, there is no reason not to.

Spend quality time with your family. You are spending lots of extra time with the members of your family in your household. Why not make sure it is time spent well? Play board games, watch movies, create a scavenger hunt, cook meals and dishes that you have never tried before. Get to know your kids on a deeper level. Read out loud to them. Ask them about their favorite things, their biggest fears, their goals for the present, and for the future. You only have about 940 weeks with your kids from the day they’re born until they turn eighteen. They will likely start becoming more independent even before that. Do not waste this time to create lasting memories with your kids. Teach them about the world around them, and show them how much you love them.

Spiritual Things

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

There are numerous spiritual benefits to this time of “quarantine” and social distancing. If we slow down, refocus our attention, and trust in God, we will discover everlasting benefits that far outweigh these momentary troubles.

Read your Bible. It is crucial that you spend time reading your Bible on a regular basis. There are all sorts of reasons and excuses we give for why we don’t read our Bibles. Those excuses have been drastically reduced during this time of quarantine, and the need to hear from God has greatly increased. Now is the time to open your Bible. As a Christian, reading the Bible should be something you wish to do regularly. Everyone claims to want to hear from God, many don’t realize just how easy that is. No, seriously. It’s easy. You want God to talk to you? Well, He already has said a lot to you. Sixty-six books worth, actually. The Bible is God’s Word. It is His message to us all. The Bible provides guidance, wisdom, history, and the much needed comfort we all need right now.

It is saddening to me that many people who call themselves Christians don’t read their Bible regularly. It is also saddening to me to hear how many people have not read the Bible in its entirety. The reason these two things make me so sad isn’t because I’m a holier-than-thou super-Christian that thinks people need to be more like me. It’s because I was this way for the majority of my life. I grew up in church, attended all the Christian events, wore all the Christian T shirts, and rarely studied my Bible. I got convicted of this when I finally realized that I had called myself a Christian for decades and had never read the whole Book. I found this to be puzzling. Why had I never made it a point to read the entire book, verse-by-verse, word-by-word?

When I decided to read through the Bible in a year, I quickly realized how much I was missing. I also quickly realized how easy it actually was! In my post “Daily Pursuit” I explain how to find a manageable Bible reading plan that fits your schedule and reading style. In “My Year in the Bible” I talk about my chosen method for Bible reading and explain my experience. Make it a point to read your Bible every day and, I promise you, you will benefit greatly. There are so many things the Lord wants to say to you. Read the Book!

Start a Bible study. You don’t have to meet in a church building, or even in the same room, to have a Bible study with a small group of people. The possibilities for online studies and online Bible study groups are endless in this day and age. There are countless group studies already set up for you that you can use as a guide. This is another area your local Christian bookstore can help you. Most have a section dedicated solely to small group Bible studies. You can video chat with a group of friends and discuss what you’re reading, or even start a Facebook group! Decide together as a group what topic, person, chapter, or book of the Bible you want to study. Everyone can be doing the reading on their own and reporting back to the group for open discussion on the Facebook group. This would be a great way to get friends involved that wouldn’t normally attend a Bible study because they’re intimidated about going to church. Even while social distancing, you need Christian community. Start an online Bible study group, or join one already in progress!

Encourage your church leaders. Your pastors and church leaders don’t get to take time off. A pastor never clocks out. They have a duty to reach people with the Gospel message in spite of suffering or illness. They still are providing for the members of their church just as they have been all along, if not more-so. Pastors are used to helping those who cannot get out of the house. Perhaps all those house calls were training them “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Send your pastor a card, an email, or text message and tell them they are appreciated and that you are praying for them. And, for Heaven’s sake, do not withhold your tithes and offerings just because you aren’t going to church on Sundays. I mean that literally, for the sake of the Kingdom, continue to be generous. The local church should be the number one source for aiding people in their time of need and it takes resources to do that. Now is not the time to hoard. It is the time to share. Please help any way you can. Volunteer your time and effort to help your church staff with outreach projects to help the community. Also, don’t forget to pray for their safety, for wisdom, and for effectiveness to reach people with the thing they need most during this time: the hope of Jesus Christ.

“Now is not the time to hoard. It is the time to share.”

Post your testimony. Go “live” on social media or make a video of yourself telling the story of how you came to know Christ. Post the video online for all your friends to see. Some of your close friends and family may know your story, but the hundreds of acquaintances on your social media feeds likely do not. Hearing what God has done for you may be the thing that gets them to take the Gospel message seriously. Don’t underestimate the power your story can have on those around you, and don’t keep them from the blessing of hearing it. People can easily switch the channel on a TV preacher or ignore the words of a stranger, but when they hear from you, someone they respect and trust, they might be willing to listen. Whether you think anyone wants to hear it or not, tell your story.

Help your neighbors (Luke 10:27). Now is the time to reach out to those around you in Christian love and compassion (Galatians 6:10). Make sure your neighbors have all that they need. Is there anything you can share with your neighbors and friends? Can you make a trip to the store for those who are elderly or vulnerable? Arrange gift baskets or food baskets with an uplifting message to encourage others during this time of isolation. One person I talked to had the great idea of walking around their neighborhood and writing encouraging messages and scriptures on the roads with sidewalk chalk. Send cards and hand-written letters to people to keep up communication. Who doesn’t love to get a letter in the mail? Brighten someone’s day by taking the time to reach out to them in the name of Jesus.

Spread hope. The news is full of nothing but doom and gloom, more so than ever. The internet is full of information, and misinformation, about COVID-19. It is easy to be disheartened and depressed by this kind of constant negative messaging. What can you do to spread hope and peace during this time? A lot of people are feeling down. Lift them up! Remind them of the love of Christ. Tell them that God is in control, no matter what. Find creative ways to share positive things on social media. Promote laughter by telling a joke. Tweet scriptures about hope, peace, and endurance. Whatever you can do to give hope to others in a time of despair, do it.

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” –Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

Start Bible journaling. Bible journaling, or “life journaling”, is a wonderful way to study the Bible and connect with God. The concept is simple: Just read a set of scripture, take notes on what you read and what you learned, and end in prayer. If you’re an artist, you can tap into your creative side and accompany your journal entries with drawings, coloring, or paintings that are inspired by the scriptures you’re reading. My favorite way to journal is by using the S.O.A.P. method. S.O.A.P. stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. The included image shows specific instructions for each step. I challenge you to start journaling as you read the Bible during quarantine. You will find that the Word of God will open up to you in ways that you didn’t know possible.

Be the Church

Just because you can’t gather in the building doesn’t mean church is canceled. Church isn’t even postponed. Church never ends. You are the church. We are all the church. If your spiritual wellness depends on going to the building, you might be unhealthy and need to spend this time investing in your spiritual life one-on-one with God. I believe scripture makes it clear that meeting with a group of believers regularly (like we do at church) is essential to our Christian walk, but it is not the only essential aspect of the Christian life. We should be able to temporarily forego visiting home base during this pandemic and, instead, shift our focus from going to church to being the church, everywhere else. Perhaps shutting the doors of church buildings for a little while is just what some lukewarm Christians needed to evaluate their faith and awaken their spiritual lives.

A church I visited had a banner hanging above the door that led out to the parking lot. It read “You are now entering the mission field.“I think about that often. A lot of Americans view church attendance as the benchmark for being a Christian. We attend church on Sunday, maybe Wednesday, then go back to our lives until the next week. We have to rethink this approach. One hour on Sunday simply cannot be where you are getting the most spiritual fulfillment. If these social distancing regulations have put your local church body at a complete stand-still, there is something wrong with your church. If your closeness to God and your walk with Christ is solely dependent on gathering at the building, cookie-cutter sermons, or pleasing musical preferences, you will see a breakdown of your Christianity during this pandemic. That model is simply not sustainable. If your church is the hands and feet of Jesus, working together to serve the community and spread the Gospel, you will see a resurgence of Christianity in your community, country, and world! Now is the time to take off the designer suits and put on some work boots. We are still the hands and feet of Jesus- we are just wearing gloves now.

“We are still the hands and feet of Jesus- we are just wearing gloves now.”

You Are Not Persecuted

I know there have been a lot of orders to stay-at-home, shelter in place, and social distance. Businesses have been deemed “non-essential” by people in ivory towers, so far detached from economic understanding that it is frightening. A record number of Americans are unemployed. To top it all off, churches aren’t allowed to gather. These things are all frustrating and highly inconvenient, to say the least. Many of us are seeing our rights violated on a scale that we’ve never experienced before. Anger over our religious freedom is rampant. But here’s the thing: it is not persecution. If it is, it is very mild. When I think of my brothers and sisters in other countries meeting secretly in basements in the middle of the night to quietly study their Bibles together, in constant fear of the police catching them, I thank God that I only have to miss church temporarily. I think about all the people around the globe who have been outcast, imprisoned, and murdered for the simple act of believing in Jesus, something that we Americans take for granted, and I feel ashamed that I would get so angry over a missed small group meeting.

Church is temporarily canceled, but Christianity is not. You can still be a Christian. You can still worship God. You can still read your Bible. You can still speak openly about your faith without fear of imprisonment. You can still tell your friends and neighbors about Jesus without being slaughtered. You just aren’t allowed to cough on your fellow church goers for a few weeks.

Pick up a copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and I can assure you, within a few pages, you will feel less persecuted. We have so much to be thankful for when it comes to religious freedoms. I agree that it is important to keep a close watch on how our governments handle our rights, especially those involving our practice of religion, but I also want us to take an honest evaluation of how our religious freedoms compare to those of the rest of the world in order to gain a little perspective. Take the frustration you feel and use it to gain a better understanding of the persecuted church all over the world. Use this time to simulate how Christians from other nations and cultures would practice their faith. Let us consider how the early Christians felt when the religious leaders of their time crucified Jesus on a cross, the most heinous execution method of their time, and then proceeded to hunt down and kill His followers. Read through the New Testament and mimic how the early Christians lived in community, provided for those in need, and spread the Gospel of Christ, despite intense persecution from their religious leaders and their government. Friend, you are not persecuted. You are just inconvenienced.

Listen, we need to keep a close watch. We don’t want this virus to be used as an open door for future violation of our rights. We have seen numerous other rights taken away in the name of “emergencies” or “for our own safety”. It is a terrifying thought to think this could happen with our right to gather at church also. We cannot allow that to happen. But right now, at this moment of me writing, I don’t perceive that to have happened (so far). Eventually, religious persecution on the scale that we see in other countries will probably reach our shores. I don’t know if it will happen this year, or in 100 years, but the Bible does tell us that we will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:13). There is no way around it. We should accept it willingly and count it a blessing to share in the suffering of Christ (1 Peter 4:12-19). Up until now, what suffering have you endured for your faith? Maybe your Christianity has just been too comfortable.

For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.

So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

2 Corinthians 4:11-12 (NIV)

Use This Time for Good

There are so many stories in the Bible of God turning bad situations around and using them for good. Scenarios that seemed destined for failure were redeemed for the Glory of God. The story of Joseph gives us a perfect example of this (Genesis 50:20). So much good has already come out of this. Never before have sermons reached so many people! Every church has been faced with a new challenge to get their sermons broadcasted online. Now that people can’t go to church, church is coming to them! These online sermons are reaching more people than a sermon from a pulpit ever would. Now, as I scroll my social media feeds, I see tons of videos of live sermons from all the different churches in town, and around the country. More than one church in my town has started broadcasting their sermons on the local television stations. This is incredible! People who would have never stepped foot in a church building are now getting the opportunity to hear a message from the Bible. There is no way to calculate what kind of impact this widespread multimedia broadcasting effort will have on the Kingdom. People are putting their trust in God for the first time, in their living rooms! This isn’t a time to lament the temporary postponement of church services. This is a time to celebrate!

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” –Genesis 50:20

This is a strange moment in history. Life is much different now than it was a month ago. A lot of us are feeling vulnerable and confused. In the midst of all the frustration, just remember who is really in control. I think you’ve found out by now that you have very little control over the current situation. The government is not in control. The health organizations are not in control. God is in control. He always has been and always will be. Before, during, and after the virus. COVID-19 didn’t take God by surprise. Neither have any of the other viruses and illnesses that have plagued the world throughout history. He knows how to carry us through it, physically and mentally.

Perhaps this is the excuse we needed to slow down. Like Robby Gallaty tweeted, a forced sabbath, of sorts. Maybe we can all take the time to stop and take a look at how busy our lives had become, and admit that there are a lot of things we could cut out. I hope we learn from this. I hope we learn where to put our trust. I hope we learn that we can’t put our trust in human masters. I hope we learn to give God control over our entire lives, all seven days of the week. I hope we slow down and rest. I hope our lives can be less stressful and our schedules less filled. Maybe we will learn the importance of spending quality time with our loved ones, the same ones we may be separated from right now. Most of all I hope we will cut out all of the things from our routines that are “non-essential” and replace them with worship and adoration for the Holy God that created us.

What about you?

So, what now? What will you do to spend this time wisely? What changes will you make right now to restructure your life to be built on a strong, everlasting foundation? One that can’t be shaken and crumbled by things like illnesses. We do not know exactly how long this will last, or how different our lives will look when it is over, but we won’t let worry of the unknown cripple us with fear.

What will you do to join this movement? What will you do to be the church in a moment in history where people need it the most? Whatever you do, do not sit idly by, waiting for life to go back to the way it was. Do something impactful. Do something of value. Do something to make Jesus famous today.

Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, keep six feet away from others and… do not let this moment go to waste!

Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, keep six feet away from others and… do not let this moment go to waste!


Further Reading:

When the Deadly Outbreak Comes: Counsel from Martin Luther by Justin Taylor

-The Decade-Old Ministry Book That Envisioned the Pandemic by Ivan Mesa, Colin Marshall, &Tony Payne

Let the Waters Rise by Rugged Pursuit

Too Busy, Too Broke– by Rugged Pursuit

One Comment on “While I’m Waiting

  1. Pingback: Bookends 2020 – Rugged Pursuit

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