To avoid the spread of COVID-19, many countries and U.S. states have made staying at home mandatory; this is quite frustrating for faithful churchgoers. Some even complain about the state not letting them attend church. But this isn’t about religious liberty; it’s about public health and our responsibility to care about life—ours and every other one we come in contact with. It’s just a good thing to avoid catching or spreading deadly viruses.
But tell me, isn’t it great that we can grow spiritually in so many ways during this non-congregating time? Here are seven ways to grow your spiritual experience at home.
1. Accept the break.
In Mark 6:31, Jesus invites His disciples: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (NIV). We are so addicted to “busy” that we feel we must fight the break. But no! Accept the break. Take the break! Break so you can breathe and have time for yourself and time for God. Now, right now, is when you need to really contemplate God’s love. Now that you’re at the stop sign, press the brake and take a break! Catch up on time with your heavenly Father. Reminisce on the past and remember how He has blessed you and brought you to where you are today.
The book of Psalms is a book of songs and ideas: David’s ideas; other thinkers’ ideas; meditations they decided to write down—so you can have them now. Writing, journaling, and documenting your thoughts can provide its own release from anxiety, its own relief from fearful times like these. When you look back at your journal entries later on, it will help you to see how far God has brought you.
3. Get some sunshine.
Go outside; sit in the sun; breathe in fresh air. The health benefits of sunlight are tremendous, preventing vitamin D deficiency and improving sleep, mood, and brain function. God’s sunshine blesses us with health while reminding of His faithfulness. We know the sun is on its tour—as we say—regardless of the clouds in the sky. That’s faithfulness. And God is with us regardless of clouds of plague or other darkness, even in the midst of coronavirus.
4. Read a book that uplifts Jesus.
Even if you’re an ardent reader, you have more time now. Make it count for Jesus: read your Bible—Psalm 91, on protection; or in a different vein, Psalms 90 and 46 on divine power and constancy; or again, Psalm 104, on heaven’s wondrous providences. Read other Christian literature—books; magazines; material that edifies, enlightens, and lifts up Jesus. Audiobooks are wonderful too.
5. Sing and Testify!
Life can be gloomy: there’s a virus lurking around the corner and behind your back. But praise the Lord who is above, before, behind, and beneath you to shield, support, and encourage you. So sing His praise and banish the gloom. “Sing the clouds away!” the old song said; “Sing the clouds away; night will turn to day!” And when that happens, share your testimony with the whole world; or at least with someone else. Your story of the way to light will brighten someone’s darkness.
6. Call or video chat with a church member or friend.
Calling a brother or sister in Christ is great medicine for loneliness. Call the soulmate you see all the time. Call the lonely, maybe ailing soul who has long needed just the sight of your smile and the sound of your voice. Call your church leaders and give them encouragement. Such thoughtful service to others frees your mind of burdensome person preoccupations. And BTW, if you can’t make the call, it means you must send a card or write a letter.
Pray without ceasing. Rejoice in the Lord through prayer. Talk to your heavenly Father. Pray for your friends and family. Pray for your church. Pray for health and safety. Pray for peace and trust. Pray for your leaders, for leaders all over who must make just the right decisions for the health of the world. Pray for your own insight. Turn your eyes to Jesus.
That’s it: take the break; ’cause seven is enough things for now. Right? More later. [Editor’s note: Look for Part 2 of this article on Friday, April 10, 2020.]
Annamaria Miller—a mother, English as a Second Language teacher, pastoral spouse, and doctoral student in literacy—lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States. Lael Caesar is an associate editor for Adventist Review and Adventist World and lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.