How many times in your life have you been able to completely clear your calendar? It’s rare, right? Clear my calendar. Cancel all my appointments. These are statements made only when something so serious occurs that it circumvents your schedule and forces you to make a drastic change. For many of us, an empty calendar is our new reality.
As we turned the page from March to April on our family calendar (yes, we still have an actual calendar stuck to our fridge), our children sighed in disappointment at the emptiness of it all. We were supposed to take a trip to see our good friends this month. We were supposed to play weekly soccer games. We were supposed to host several trainings in churches throughout the capital city. We were supposed to celebrate Easter together with our church family. We were supposed to…we were supposed to. April Fools! You’re under self-quarantine now.
What do we do? What should we do?
The word quarantine was derived from the Italian words quaranta giorni which means 40 days. I find it interesting that Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness culminated with three temptations: hedonism (hunger/satisfaction), egoism (might/self-interest) and materialism (wealth/comfort), which led me to ask: Where do I find satisfaction? Where do I find strength? Where do I find sufficiency? If my answer to these questions is not Christ, I’m in big trouble.
With the ongoing loss of stability through the financial collapse, the constant fear of a looming virus, and the uncertainty of the future, the Covid-19 crisis has magnified this fact. Jesus is the only adequate answer. But what does it really mean that Jesus is the only adequate answer? It sounds so pious.
Our family has been trying to memorize John 15:1-12 this past month. We didn’t do so well but we were all able to at least memorize one verse. In the text, Jesus gives an illustration of the vine and the branches. He says in verse 5, “I (Jesus) am the vine; you (believers) are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
The word abide in this verse means to remain or, in other words, receive and trust all that God is for me in Christ. It means to receive and trust His Word, believe and be satisfied in His promises, rest in and depend on His strength, and have perfect peace in His sufficiency.
I have a choice. I can choose to seek satisfaction, strength, and sufficiency in something other than Christ, and reap fear, anxiety, and stress or I could receive and trust all that God is for me in Christ and gain satisfaction, strength, and sufficiency in Him.
I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know how long we’ll be self-isolating. I don’t know the full ramifications of all that is going on, but I do know someone who does know the future and He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. I choose to rest in that promise.
So, maybe my calendar isn’t as empty as I thought. Maybe God cleared my calendar for a higher purpose. Maybe I’m supposed to use this time, this forced Sabbath of sorts, to acknowledge my dependency on Him and make sure my life is in alignment with His greater vision and purpose. Let’s go with that.