Do you ever feel like your family is a part of this rat race of life, like there’s never enough time in the day to do all you need to do, let alone do the things you want to do? Do you ever wake up desiring a slower pace, wanting to spend time in God’s Word, and find that the minute your feet hit the floor, the frenzy begins? His Word eludes you, family time seems fractured and feels hurried? Do you ever fail to show compassion and point your children to Jesus, because, honestly, the more important things of life have you feeling filled to the brim, and not in the good-kind-of-fullness way, but in the I-can’t-do-or-handle-one-more-thing kind of way? Do you ever have plans (or, at least, desires) for regular family worship, but the end of the day comes, and the weight of life and the tiredness (and crankiness) of the day sets in?

Raise your hand.

If we were all sitting in a room together right now, we could take a look around. See all those hands raised? This is the story of our lives. Too busy. Too frenzied. Too fractured. Too hurried. Too full. Too weighed down. Too tired.

My hand is raised high right there with you! In fact, I stand waving both hands frantically at all of these things, desperate in certain seasons for something to give. Something to be different.

And, here we are. Something gave. Something is different.

Thanks to an unforeseen entry of an unknown virus, we’re finding work trips, ministry trips, and missions trips canceled, schools closing, sports practices and games coming to an abrupt halt, plans changing, activities suspended for at least the next two weeks. While work and ministry and missions and school and sports and plans and activities are not bad things, we have a tendency to fill all of our time with these things, to fill our lives to the brink, and we can’t handle anything more.

Now, suddenly, these things are taken away. We’re being forced to slow down, to stay in. That’s so foreign to so many of us, that, honestly, we freak out a bit.

An important mention: For some of you, this virus represents more than cancellations and inconvenience. Some of you are in at-risk categories, and your age or underlying health conditions give you great cause for concern. Some of you suffer from mental illness, and the isolation is daunting and unhealthy. Some of you work jobs without access to paid leave, and your financial circumstances are deeply uncertain right now. Know this: your pain, your grief, and your anxiety matter, to me and to your Heavenly Father. My prayer is that the rest of us will see you, rally around you, and support you in this time.

But to those of us who aren’t in these circumstances, those of us who are merely inconvenienced and stuck at home, I offer this encouragement:

What if we’ve just been given a gift? The gift of time, of slowness, of margin, of togetherness. What if, instead of being hurried, we get to slow down and be more intentional together?

Let’s see and treat this time as a gift. Let’s do some things we don’t always get around to doing together. Let’s worship Jesus with our families, in our homes together. Let’s take slow walks, soaking in the beauty of our Lord’s creation together. Let’s open our Bibles and have time in His Word, and let’s encourage our children (of any age) to do the same – that space to do this has already been forced upon us, so let’s do it! Let’s play more games, and watch more movies together. Let’s bake for our neighbors together (after scrubbing our hands, of course!). Let’s write notes and draw in cards to send to out of town family and friends together. Let’s identify those around us who are deeply impacted by Coronavirus and care for them together. Let’s do things together.

And, know this (there are always caveats)…

This time of together will look different in every home. This time of together will bring out the good in us AND the ugly (I am the most patient person in the world until. Until my plans are messed with, until my kids have bad attitudes, until my husband forgets to help in the kitchen).

This time of together will not be easy, and it will never be perfect. But it will be absolutely worth it!

What if 5 years from now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now, we all look back on the Coronavirus, and instead of remembering the empty toilet paper shelves (honestly, I’ll always remember and make jokes about this), we remember the time we had together?

This time is a gift. Let’s use it well.

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