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Serving While Sheltering

by Dennis Ahern

Yesterday was a strange day in the midst of our new normal. After checking in with the IM team at 7:30 a.m. (California time), my wife, Denise and I went to buy groceries. We experienced the push of the cart during the early morning “senior” shopping hours. Truthfully, my wife does not accept invitations from anyone or anywhere that begin with, “Dear Senior Citizen.” But, she accepted my invitation because I invited her to join me as my guest. Does it seem strange to others besides me that before entering a supermarket, we put on masks and gloves? It seems like we should be preparing to enter a bank. Yesterday was just a strange new normal day. Today, I offer these tips for serving while sheltering.

  1. Have a plan for the workspace.

Use a room or space in a room dedicated to work—even if it’s just “dedicated” for certain hours of the day. If you are an extrovert, face away from the doorway. If you are an introvert, then quote my wife, “The world is finally speaking my language.”

  1. Have a plan for routine.

Attempt to start and finish each workday at the same time. Routines are good. Be creative by placing additional life-giving practices into daily routines. Schedule Philippians 4:8 activities that renew, restore, and refresh. Take time to create. Take time to celebrate a sunrise or a sunset.

  1. Have a plan for communication with your supervisor and your team.

Paraclete is a remote team. We meet remotely on a weekly basis and some of us meet more than once per week. Remote teams need to communicate more often than those who share an office.

  1. Have a plan for daily exercise.

My wife and I have been walking together for the last month prior to dinner. The exercise is good for our physical health and the walk is also good for our marital health. Conversations have been rich.

  1. Have a plan for healthy eating and healthy snacking.

If COVID-19 continues, I will probably continue to make progress with weight loss. Weight loss would be a wonderful way to celebrate the release from captivity.

  1. Have a plan for community.

We now use technology to participate in our church’s worship services, adult Sunday School class, and small group meetings. New relational connecting is happening. After we’ve all been “paroled”, may we not lose these new ways of reaching and embracing our various communities.

  1. Have a plan to connect with extended family.

We’ve started “attending” weekly meetings with extended family. With some relatives, online gatherings have actually increased our connecting during this season of mandatory “isolation”.

  1. Have a plan for being thankful and generous.

Many are experiencing a significant loss of income. Practice thankfulness and generosity.

  1. Have a plan for helping others.

I have now set a goal to help at least one person on a daily basis. This could mean writing a note, placing a phone call, praying with them for a specific need, or giving a gift of service. I’m using this season to cultivate adventure by assisting those with needs greater than my own.

  1. For those who are married, have a plan to love your spouse.

Denise and I learned from one recent news report that forced confinement was stressing some marriages and that phone calls to divorce attorneys were on the rise. This is a sad story. When Denise and I do our walkabouts together, we don’t follow the six-feet of separation rule.

  1. Have a plan to limit access to the news.

Unlimited COVID-19 news exposure feeds fear. While some of us will eventually grieve the loss of loved ones, anxiety will not help us love and trust God, grieve well, or serve others.

  1. For those with young children at home, have a plan to invite others to help share in their care.

Grandparents or other family and friends can provide remote support. When help is needed, ask.

  1. Have a plan for pursuing the shelter of God Most High.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!” (Psalm 91:1-2) The psalmist declares the availability of God’s shelter. (vs.1) The psalmist then testifies that God’s shelter is more than available, it is obtainable. May our sheltering at home lead us in how to pursue sheltering in Him.

Header image Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay