Don’t waste your Lockdown!
26 March 2020
By Riaan Strydom
It felt like yesterday when we celebrated the New Year of 2020. The potential of the year felt limitless and we felt immortal. But who could’ve ever imagined that in a few months’ time, people will be hoarding toilet paper for what feels like a modern apocalypse! The Coronavirus has changed the world in a few short weeks.
And now we are preparing for a 21-day-lockdown announced by our President to flatten the curve of infections. Since nothing happens without God’s permission, plan, and eternal purposes (Eph 1:11; Rom 11:36), we have received a 21-day-lockdown from the hand of our loving Heavenly Father, who wants to make us more like His Son through His Holy Spirit (2 Cor 3:18).
So how may we as Christians best use these days?
The Greatest Commandment
I believe that the single text to guide us in this time is the Greatest Commandment,
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:29-31).
This command never goes on lockdown! We are to seek and strive by God’s grace and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to obey this command to the glory of Christ.
So the key question is this: How will I love God in this lockdown with everything I have? How will I love my neighbour in this time?
There are four ‘robbers’ of our love for God and people we should beware of. These are four leaches who are ever ready to suck us dry:
The mother-hen who will hatch every egg of sin is laziness – you know, that feeling that nothing needs to be done, no one needs help, no one needs prayer….
And before long, the first ‘egg’ to be laid by laziness is selfishness. This is my time! My wife, my husband, my children, my extended family and friends, and the needy around me don’t need me now.
The first ‘chicken’ which may hatch from the egg of selfishness is the over-indulgence in useless entertainment. If we are not watchful, we will find that we haven’t grown at all in our love for God, but only in polluting our minds with God-less entertainment.
The final ‘robber’ we should be vigilant against is that of lust. We will do well to remember how King David fell. It was while he was in ‘lockdown’, so to speak, too lazy to do battle, when he fell into his scandalous adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11). And because it is easier today to watch pornography than to make a cup of coffee, of all times, it is now that we are to be most vigilant!
God has given us 21 days to ‘be still and know’ that He is God (Ps 46:10). We have 21 days to deepen our love, trust, and worship of the Triune God of the Universe. We have the greatest book given to us by the greatest Being in existence.
Therefore, by far the best way not to waste your lockdown is to invest your time in the reading, meditating, studying, and memorizing of Scriptures. Set aside a daily time where you become still before Him. Consider following a reading plan if you’re not already.
Use the time to memorize Scripture – If you don’t know where to start, consider using ‘Fighter Verses’ online for a list of verses to begin memorizing. Try memorize whole chapters of the Bible. If you memorize a verse a day, you will have banked 21 verses in your soul and mind.
It is an ideal time to read books.
Consider reading one of the Christian Classics (Pilgrim’s Progress and Knowing God immediately comes to mind). I also recommend a great book by Tim Challies, Do More Better, which is a practical, Christian guide to productivity. Whatever you read, be sure to read books that will fuel your love for God and people.
If you only read a few hours a day, you could finish small books in a day or two. Imagine reading 10+ books in the lockdown!
Seek to grow in your skills.
If you’re a student, see this as a time for you to get ahead with your studies. Perhaps a studying schedule will help you to stay focussed on the essential subjects you need to invest in.
If you’re working, use the time to read up, study, or practice in the field you’re in to be better equipped to love people in your work.
Think of some personal areas in which you can grow.
I personally will do some exercises at home (Thankfully, you don’t need a gym to exercise). Perhaps you could finish a home project, start to learn a musical instrument, or learn some other hobby that will challenge you.
And then, pray, pray, pray!
What will be our excuse for prayerlessness in these days?
“Lord, the blankets were too heavy for my arms to lift up! Lord, the pillow locked me down in my place; I was helpless! Lord, I didn’t have the energy to push the red button on the remote or the lock button on my phone! Lord, I just didn’t have the time to pray, because I had to stay up to date with the Coronavirus memes!”
Of all times in history, it is right now that we have absolutely no excuse not to pray!
It is the only way we commune with God. It is the most loving, most practical, most effective way to love people right now while at home.
So pray for your church leaders, for the needy and lonely, for the government, for doctors and hospitals, and for the lost. Ask specifically for husband’s hearts to be turned to their wives, the heart of wives to their husbands, and the heart of parents to their children. What good might come through the fervent prayer of God’s people (James 5:16)?
Pray together with your family – Consider making a prayer calendar (Monday – Pray for the government; Tuesday – Pray for hospitals…), and pray with your family for the various needs of people.
If you would use the time God has given you to grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), this lockdown won’t be wasted!
Love your Neighbour
The second part of the greatest commandment is the practical expression of your love for God.
And during the lockdown, we have the unique opportunity to love our neighbour – especially the neighbours you will be locked up with!
I recommend having what we call in our family a “Team Talk”. It is when I and Deborah come together and brainstorm over something. Have a family ‘conference’ table and discuss the various needs and goals you would like to achieve at this time.
Here’s an outline for the discussion:
1. Prayer – Ask God to help you, guide you, and give you wisdom and love for one another.
2. Thanksgiving – what are you thankful for about your family?
3. Repentance – where have you failed as a family? Where is repentance appropriate?
4. Planning – Plan what you will do as a family for the 21 days.
Some things you can consider doing together as a family:
1. Teach your children a good, biblical catechism (New City Catechism or Catechism for Boys and Girls online are great).
2. Make a prayer calendar and pray regularly together.
3. Memorize Scripture together on God’s character and promises.
4. Fill the house with great hymns and Christian music about the character of God.
5. Organize the home – Your stuck anyway! Might as well clean it up a bit!
6. Skype with Parents, family, and friends.
7. Playing board games together
8. Have a ‘pajama party’ and watch a great movie together (Pilgrim’s Progress will be free for this time).
At this moment, the most loving thing to do is to stay at home to flatten the curve.
But while the infections are few now, there might come a time when the hospitals will be so burdened by all the patience that they will need help in the future. I think we as Christians should gladly volunteer, even at the risk of being infected, since ‘to live is Christ and to die is gain!’ (Phil 1:21). Jesus has removed our fear of death by paying for all our sins (Heb 2:10-18). Therefore, we can gladly give up our lives, so that others might live and so see and hear the gospel through us.
There is one last way we won’t waste our lockdown – and that is to rest! We are not just a floating soul, but also possess a body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19-20). Therefore, a wise way to spend your time is to get enough sleep in and be refreshed to go and work again.
I pray that this article will ‘stir you up to love and good works’ and ‘encourage you as you see the Day drawing near’ (Heb 10:24-25).
So whatever we will do in this lockdown, whether we eat or drink, let us as do all to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31), in the name of the Lord Jesus (Col 3:17), and all in love for others (1 Cor 16:14).