By Jonathan Lumbard
When one of our family members recently tested positive for COVID-19, we were advised to quarantine for two weeks. Overall, our household experienced very mild symptoms, and we felt super blessed considering stories of other people that have had very different experiences with the virus. We know people who have died, others who have experienced lingering side effects for months after an intense battle with COVID, and still others that experienced only some annoying symptoms like the loss of taste and smell. Staying home for two weeks was part of our experience, and as I look back on it, I learned some things that can apply to all families.
- It’s important to be disciplined with family time.
My wife, Becky, and I have three girls: a ten-year-old, a six-year-old, and a four-year-old. Obviously, we already knew that intentional time together is important, but two weeks without going anywhere forced us to put some of the things into practice that busyness sometimes pushes to the side. The older girls learned some “important” skills playing cards with Mom and Dad while their youngest sister sat on our laps and “helped.” We held movie nights, cooked together, wrestled, and of course, the girls had to make up dance routines and then treat us to full, live performances. Oh, and I almost forgot about camping out in the living room one night!
- It’s rewarding to do projects together.
I don’t know what the rule of thumb is for getting rid of things that have sat in boxes and totes for a period of time, but after ten-plus years . . . those things gotta go! Becky went on a mission to eliminate clutter, and we ended up with a vehicle full of things to donate to the homeless shelter thrift store. Again, doing different projects together was fun and provided a great family connection . . . except maybe for the trench I had to dig outside our house to waterproof our basement. Our girls will remember quarantine for the rest of their lives, and besides having to suffer through a ton of homework and remote learning, it won’t be a bunch of negative memories. As a side note, I know more fifth grade math now than I did when I was in fifth grade.
- Sometimes it’s better to just shut off the noise.
Everyone is an expert. I think we knew this already, but when you’re quarantined with something as polarizing as COVID, the amount of conflicting information that comes your way can be overwhelming. Some information is helpful, such as “Take these vitamins,” “Don’t overexert yourself,” and “Get some rest.” Some information we sought out, such as what symptoms to watch for and “Are we now immune until Jesus comes back?” Still, some information left us scratching our heads. Some of the blessing of quarantine was that we could fairly easily shut off the noise, pull closer together, and even just spend some quality time with Jesus.
- Life can go on without me.
I had to make other plans for handling things at the church. The staff stepped up, the office flowed smoothly, things got done that needed to be done, and even Sunday morning service went off without a hitch. I asked someone who had never preached before to preach for me. I worked with them over the phone and helped them with their notes via email. They did a great job! My two weeks at home let other people shine and reminded me that God can use anybody to accomplish His plans.
- It is not wise to give up meeting together.
We were home for only two weeks, not two months, but it got me thinking about our church family and other Christian friends. Regardless of your thoughts on the pandemic, which at the time of this writing had started nearly a year and a half ago, the devil has capitalized on the opportunity. The devil has used this time to accomplish much evil in the world, but maybe a more subtle strategy was to distance us from each other both physically and emotionally. Not only have I been challenged to close the relational gap with others in our life, I have also been reminded of Hebrews 10:24–25 (NIV): “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” The “Day approaching” is referring to the last day, the end times. This verse is saying that as pressures increase, instead of isolating, we should be intentional about being together. In fact, this verse indicates that people can actually fall into a habit of not being together. More than ever, we need our church family. Instead of falling into the habit of isolating ourselves from the world, let’s build the habit of being together.
About the Author
Jonathan Lumbard is lead pastor of Spirit of Life Church in Kearney, Nebraska, and author of the book Sustaining Presence. He serves on Open Bible’s Mountain Plains regional board and on Open Bible’s national board as a regionally appointed member. Jonathan has also served in various staff pastoral positions, including directing the Des Moines Master’s Commission. He and his wife, Becky, have three daughters: Kayleigh, Aria, and Lydia.