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The instruction from the Prime Minister last night could not be clearer. To help our NHS and to save lives, we are required to stay at home, except for essential shopping, meeting medical needs, giving care to others and getting to work if work cannot be done at home.
Now that kind of instruction can be read in two ways, either as a negative restriction, limiting our choices and making us say ‘what on earth am I going to do’ or as a positive opportunity to have new time that ordinary life usually denies us.
So, what are we to do with the gift of time this lock down creates?
1. Maintain a regular routine.
It is all too easy to lose a sense of structure to the day when we have no requirements or appointments in the diary. So, the regular disciplines of sleep, meals and exercise are vital to our wellbeing and give a sense of order to our home life. That also helps us live well with one another, when we are confined to a small space for long periods of time.
Make sure the TV is not on all day, but only at agreed times. Here’s a moment to create our own entertainment, rather than to always expect others to entertain us. Choose how to spend the day, so that at the end of each 24 hours we can be grateful to God for what has been achieved.
2. Grow your private daily devotions
With more time there’s the opportunity to grow our relationship with God. Prayer does not have to be so rushed. Using the diocesan prayer calendar, found on the website, will help us look away from ourselves and our own needs to those of others, praying for people to come to faith in Jesus Christ, here in Lancashire and around the world. The Bible challenge of ‘Knowing the Scriptures better’ could get more of us into the habit of reading the Bible each day on our own, to discover more about who God is, what He has done and what He requires.
Remember Jesus said: ‘when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you’. Matthew 6.6
3. Do catch up
With new time there is the chance to do those things that have been sitting in a queue and waiting to be done.
It may be papers that need sorting, books that are asking to be read, things around the house that need mending, fulfilling a promise that hasn’t been kept.
Then there is giving time and attention to those in our homes, by talking and listening to each other as well as using the phone and other forms of communication to be in touch with family and friends and neighbours, whom we haven’t been in touch with for a while. Relationships need to be nurtured, in order for them to be good and healthy.
So, staying at home may not be such a bad idea after all and if it delays the spread of the virus, helps our NHS and saves lives, then it certainly is worth it.
For those of you who are continuing to work in helping maintain basic essentials, provide healthcare and open schools for some selected children, we commit to pray for you and your protection.
Please be assured of my ongoing prayers as together we come through this crisis and make the most of the time we are being given.
Let me conclude with the words of W F Lloyds hymn of the 19th century:
1 My times are in thy hand;
my God, I wish them there;
my life, my friends, my soul, I leave
entirely to thy care.
2 My times are in thy hand,
whatever they may be;
pleasing or painful, dark or bright,
as best may seem to thee.
3 My times are in thy hand;
why should I doubt or fear?
My Father's hand will never cause
his child a needless tear.
4 My times are in thy hand,
Jesus the Crucified;
those hands my cruel sins had pierced
are now my guard and guide.
Ronnie Semley, March 24, 2020