Our Opportunities are Daily.
The O’Neill family is past the two week marker for our social distancing measures. No more are my grocery trips, thrift shopping sprees, or overpriced iced coffees. Not to say that I went out a lot beforehand. I went out when I needed to with little to no worry or fuss. Obviously, the world has changed drastically this month. We have adapted our lifestyle according to the information we have gathered and contemplated regarding the pandemic of Covid-19. Our decision to self-isolate as much as possible was quick and simple, and together we want to encourage every person reading this to do the same, if it is realistic for you. These are not times to fuss around about where the virus came from or why it is here. The fact is that Covid-19 is here, now, and it is endangering the lives of people we love. Ben and I have agreed that it is our sincere desire to look back and be able to say that we overreacted to the virus to no detriment to ourselves or anyone around us. The alternative is not acceptable.
In the weeks before the virus situation became very serious, I received a small booklet from a ministry called Chapel Library. When Ben and I first were married, we signed up for Chapel Library’s mailing list. Periodically they will send out a tract/booklet focused on one subject, containing multiple excerpts from sermons or books from history’s reformed or puritan pastors and theologians. They have been very valuable to us, and I highly recommend that you check them out if you would like free spiritual food for personal or group worship. Anyway, we received the booklet for this period and it is called “Redeeming the Time”. I think I posted a picture of it on my social media stories when we got it. It was perfectly timed, as now I am home alone most days, wondering what in the world there is for me to be doing that could benefit my family or others.
As you may have noticed from my social media output, I have picked up some of my old hobbies like needlework and cooking and home brewing. I spend a lot of time outside when the weather is nice (the weather has not been nice until very recently) and I try to interact with James as much as possible. We play and sing and I am working on some preschool things with him. I intend to do more and more of this as time goes on. Other than that and my usual sporadic prayer and worship time, I have found myself a little at a loss and also identified a serious screen addiction which I am determined to quash in the coming weeks. My prayer for this time is that our family worship and conversations about God’s glory and greatness become more intense and numerous, and that God would use this time to bring us closer to himself.
Here are some thoughts and things I have learned in my study and from the tract I spoke of. These are things that have been helpful to me in my desire to seize this time for Christ. I want to come out of isolation with fewer idols and a renewed intention to Glorify the God of Heaven and Earth.
The days are evil.
That was initially a hard one to take in - especially in spring when you see how beautiful every day can be. And of course that beauty is made by God and glorifies God. The understanding of this truth must come from an understanding of our own fallen selves. Our flesh seeks every moment to turn us away from Christ and toward sin. I feel this battle in me every day - don’t you? The inner man is always at war - our spiritual man warring with our fleshly man. This makes every new day a battlefield, a place where we must take every opportunity to mortify our flesh. In this battle we must be both defensive and offensive. The days are evil, but our opportunities are daily. Our opportunity to seize a moment for Christ, to put away sin, and to use the miracle of time to praise Him who gave it.
How do we seize these opportunities? Here are a few things we can do to see these opportunities coming to us, and be ready to make the most of them.
Learn to recognize sin in our lives. Sin hides in every part of our lives, and by immersing ourselves in God’s Word, we will be able to identify it more and more. What else is there, at that moment of realization, than to repent of sin and cast it away?
Do not partake with those who glory in or excuse sin. The very first Psalm, Psalm 1:1 says: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” If we are spending time with people who are ungodly, we will partake in that ungodliness more readily. Guard yourselves and choose your company wisely, the scripture says.
Make not provision for the flesh, meaning, do not place yourself into fleshly temptation, thinking that you will turn away when the time is right. Stonewall Jackson, that famous Christian General, refused to eat butter once he had tasted it and realized how delicious it was. Why? Because he was afraid it would become an idol and hinder his relationship with God. Do I fully agree or understand not eating butter because it is delicious? No. Is eating butter an outright sin? Don’t be daft. But Stonewall knew, somewhere within himself, that it had the power to turn him to gluttony. So he made not provision for the flesh. This is an extreme example, I will admit, but it shows how discerning we must be to guard ourselves and take every opportunity to mortify our flesh.
There is no better time than this very moment.
There is no time to waste. If we have fallen into spiritual slumber in our daily lives, taking for granted the blood of Christ to cover our sin, may we tearfully repent today. The world is a different place than we have ever known it, and God has brought us home and taken away a lot of our distractions. May we wake from our sleep and go to our knees. Now is the time of our salvation!
“11. And that, knowing the time, that now is it high time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
12. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
13. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantoness, not in strife and envying.
14. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Romans 13:11-14
So let us take this time captive, and work to the Glory of God, to the benefit of our families, and to the profit of our communities as much as we can. I hope I do not look back on this time as an idle or sleepy era, but as a time of awakening, learning, and keeping my hands busy. It’s so easy for me to think of home as a place of rest - which of course it is. But it is also a battleground where I can and must fight against sin, raise my son up in the way he should go, love and encourage my husband, and look into the face of God through much study and prayer.
Won’t you join me? Our opportunities are daily, dear reader. Let’s not squander them, or let them pass us by.
Until next time,