You don’t need me to tell you that we are living in strange times. Everything is a little off kilter these days. We can’t do what we normally do. We can’t just ‘pop into’ the grocery store when we feel like it, we can’t catch up over a coffee in our favourite cafe, we can’t gather together as one big family on Sundays.
There’s lots of ”can’ts”. But there are some “cans” too. Here are two things we can do – we can listen and we can love.
Listening is itself an act of love. How many people, when they’re having a rough day, simply want you to listen to them as they talk about their struggles? They’re not looking for solutions to their problems, but just to know that they’ve been heard. In this time of distance and isolation, touching base with your friends and LifeGroup family and just listening to what their days have held – this is something we can all do!
But it’s not just listening to each other. We also need to listen to God. There are few of us who can say that we are too busy to sit quietly, still our busy minds, and let God speak to us!
Last week while praying, I started to pray for a couple who used to be in our LifeGroup. Life had changed for them and in a new season they had drifted away from church; I continue to pray for them, secure in the knowledge that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ! While praying, I heard the Holy Spirit prompting me to get in touch with them. I thought I knew what the Holy Spirit was up to – I would email and tell them that the church was now streaming live each week, they would watch it and become reconnected once again – perfect! So I sent an email, starting off by telling them I had been praying for them.
I received a pleasant, noncommittal reply in response. It was nice to be in touch, but it didn’t seem like this was leading to anything. And that was that (so I thought). Until two days later, when I received a text from them asking me if I would pray. Something had happened in their family and they needed support – and because they knew I would pray for them, they reached out.
Listening to God might lead to an email or a text. It might lead to any number of small acts that seem pretty insignificant to you – but God, who has the Big Plan, knows why He’s asking you to do that thing, and who will be blessed by it.
The other thing we can do is love people, actively. Listening to people, connecting with them, praying for them – these are all active forms of loving. And there are others.
A couple shared recently that their autistic son has a limited diet – there are only certain foods he will eat. And at the moment, with shelves often bare, they can’t always get hold of those foods. But after sharing this with their LifeGroup, their LifeGroup family have loved them by keeping their eyes open – and if while grocery shopping they spot any of these foods they pick them up, and deliver them to their doorstep.
This is love in action!
A number of people have connected with elderly neighbours and started picking up groceries for them. They’ve shared how humbling it is to see just how grateful these neighbours are, for such a small thing as a bag of shopping. I offered to pick some items for my neighbour, and he requested 4 oranges, some eggs and bacon. That’s it! And yet picking up these few items made such a big difference for him.
This too is love in action.
And this week, I had a rough day. Lots of small inconsequential things started to add up and I ended up in tears, discouraged. I reached out to my LifeGroup for prayer. Later that night two of them showed up at my door with a tray of homemade cheesecake, lovingly decorated with words of affirmation: ‘beloved, chosen, royal, valued’.
Love in action.
Yes, we are hindered, we are prevented from meeting, we are restricted in access. Yes, life is not what we have come to expect. But we can still listen, and we can still love.
For nothing is impossible in the love of Christ.