by Melinda McCredie
It feels strange to me that everything that seemed so important only a month ago suddenly doesn’t matter anymore. The juggling act of work, school and motherhood disappeared overnight. But what was left in its wake?
Silence! Space and time in my day to think! Anger! I didn’t appreciate the disruption to my life. I hated not being able to go to the supermarket anytime I wanted to and find fully stocked shelves. I didn’t want to have to drive to three different stores for necessities. I didn’t want school, and work to be cancelled. I didn’t want to stay home and not see my family and friends. My initial reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic was “it’s all about me.”
I did not like what I saw in the mirror.
I wrestled with how I had become so selfish. How I was part of a society where some of us could be so self-absorbed as to empty supermarket shelves without a thought for those in need. It broke my heart when I saw members of my own extended family acting this way.
I grieved for what I was seeing, but I grieved for myself more. I believed that being part of a church made me at least slightly less selfish than other people. I was part of a community that outreached. I donated money to support programs both here and overseas. I gave my time and my resources to something I loved, something I genuinely believed in.
But still. I wanted my comforts back. I wanted to have dinner with my friends, walk on the beach, be able to go to work and send the kids to school. I wanted the freedom to live my life without Government restrictions and lockdowns. I’ve been taught in church that God is enough, that He is all we need. But was I living out that truth? No. I was scared, and life felt out of control.
I discovered how easy it is to say, “God you’re all I need”, when I don’t really need Him. When I had God plus everything else, life was a lot more bearable. But with all the distractions gone what’s left?
Just me and the mirror.
I found myself in quiet moments with God, pleading with Him not to test me or make me suffer. I was scared.
I have no conscious desire to be selfish, yet here I am. I need God’s help to change. This pandemic isn’t going away, so what am I going to do? A good friend gave me some advice. “Stop asking God to change your circumstances and start asking Him to change you.”
Be careful what you ask God for, because you just might get it!
But God is so good. He opened my eyes to the kindness that was happening in the midst of the global panic. How communities were coming together to support each other, how neighbours were meeting and talking for the first time, how people in the supermarket were sharing what they had with others rather than hoarding it for themselves. There were neighbourhoods of people standing on balconies and in the street applauding their health care workers.
Whilst crisis has the potential to bring out the worst in people, God was showing me the best.
He extended the invitation to not only see the best, but to be part of it. I noticed that on the news they were devoting an entire segment every night to acts of kindness. There were Facebook groups posting about it. It suddenly felt like kindness was everywhere.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 NIV
This truth comes from Jesus and people everywhere have started discovering it, whether or not they are believers. Though I have always known it, panic and fear had temporarily blinded me. Instead of being fearful, I needed to be faithful.
I love this quote from Joyce Meyer:
I need to stock up and buy everything at once. Psalm 34:10
I don't have to panic, because God will lead me to what I need as I need it.
I got my mind off myself and my family’s needs and started asking God what He actually wanted me to do. My kids came up with some ideas too, and we filled up grocery bags for other people, dropped off flowers at strangers’ houses, and bought Easter eggs for the kids next door.
Only God knew what we had done. And the reward was more than I ever could have imagined. God gave me back something I thought I’d lost. He filled my heart with joy again.
My prayer now is that the changes we are seeing in the world, and the kindness that surrounds us is a permanent change. It shouldn’t take a global pandemic to shock us out of our complacency to help others. The fact is Jesus has always instructed us to do this.
I have seen enough selfishness in myself to last a lifetime. The cry of my heart now is that caring for others doesn’t become another selfish pursuit. Feeling the joy of giving is a precious gift, but my acts of kindness don’t mean anything unless they are motivated by a true desire to please God and honour Him. I need Jesus to keep me in check.
Is God’s grace enough to cover the sin in my heart that I can no longer avoid seeing? Can His love overwhelm the shame I feel when I see the very worst version of myself in the mirror? Yes. It can. Because He says it can.
Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Melinda is a writer who shares her life experiences with God on her blog, www.thedevotedlife.com She also has a self-published book. Melinda attends Gateway Baptist Church with her husband Drewe and two daughters.
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