New York City looks like a shell of its former self.
Where we once dodged each other on the sidewalks and crammed shoulder-to-shoulder on the subway, we now go out of our way to keep a minimum of six feet between us.
The vibrant restaurant scene — where open tables were scarce and noise levels high — has come to a halt. At best, restaurant employees pass food to customers and delivery people outside, using as much arm length as they can stretch.
The city that I find so friendly, now has us looking away when we pass, seeing one another as a threat.
Even this morning, as I look out onto 5th Avenue — where a swarm of tourists and residents usually fill every table, bench, and inch of sidewalk — I see only a small handful of people.
This is my city, but I bet you can say similar things about yours.
And how do we process the effects and challenges experts anticipate COVID-19 to bring this very week alone?
Asking a tough question
As I process all that’s going on, thinking of how to best use this time, I’m asking myself a probing and challenging question: Do I, God’s child, look like only a shell of what He intends and offers me?
It’s a tough question, but when I look at Scripture and compare it to my own life, I’m convicted. I need no more evidence than the fact that it’s taken me nearly three weeks of social distancing and sheltering at home to get my eyes off myself, and onto the bigger picture of what God can and, I believe, wants to do in this time.
I’m also hopeful. What if God (amongst all He’s doing) wants to use this time to form us into a more accurate reflection of Himself. At a time when fear seeks to grip us, when we’re stripped of the things we usually do and the places we often go, what if God wants to strip our lives from the things that hinder us from knowing and reflecting Him?
God has always sought people — people who would be His. These truths from Scripture give us a glimpse into His heart:
God wants a people who:
- Are holy to Him (Deut. 7:6).
- Are saved from an empty way of life (1 Peter 1:18-19).
- Live differently, with different pursuits and goals ( 1 Peter 2:9-10).
- Shine like bright lights in the world because they look like Him (Philippians 2:15).
I’ve heard 2 Chronicles 7:14 quoted a lot lately, and understandably so:
“If My people, who are called by My name will humble themselves, pray, seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.”
God wants to heal our land — from every plot of ground across the globe to the tender soil of our hearts, minds, and bodies. It’s been His plan since Adam and Eve hid from Him in the garden. As we each do our part in fighting this virus, what if we also open ourselves up to the One who is reaching out for us, so:
- He can reveal Himself to us (John 17:3).
- He can do a work in us (Psalm 139:23-24).
- He can pour out His Spirit and work miracles among us (Galatians 3:5).
What if you and I come out of this season looking more like Jesus, being more like the woman or man God created us to be? What if we arise as the people to whom He made the promise, “If My people…”