Don’t Wait for a Change in the Weather
Standing outside on a frigid December day, I kept myself warm by getting as close to the fire as possible. My daughter was running around the backyard chasing the dog, seemingly impervious to the dropping temperature. While I got the fire burning, my wife brought out a tray of treats to snack on. This was all highly unusual for a cold December day in Michigan. Some might even call it absurd, but we were determined. We were not going to let the cold weather deter us from seeing some of our close friends in a safe way. Sure, it meant bundling up and getting cold, but the fellowship nourished our souls.
The author, Andy Crouch, wrote in an essay last year that we must not view the covid-19 pandemic as a blizzard, or even a winter, but as an ice age. A blizzard is a one-time even that you overcome in a few days. A winter is a season that lasts a few months, but an ice age can last an undetermined amount of time. Although, this doesn’t seem like good news, Crouch argues that it can be. During a blizzard, the community shuts down for a few days, and then goes back to normal. In a winter, people stop doing many of the things they love to and just wait for Spring to arrive. However, in an ice age, which doesn’t have a clear end in sight, people change their practices altogether. They don’t wait for the weather to change, they change themselves.
Throughout history, humanity has faced countless “ice ages” of sorts. Some were in the form of wars, others in famines, and still others in natural disasters. One of these “ice ages” can be found in the history of Israel, during their exile in Babylon. In Jeremiah 29, we find a letter that the prophet Jeremiah wrote to those who were still in Babylon. He said, “God calls you who are exiled to build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat their produce. Get married and have children and grandchildren. Seek the prosperity of the city you are in exile. Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for if it prospers, you will prosper too.” Hoping exile wouldn’t last very long, this may not have been the most energizing vision for the Israelites. Yet, the Lord was preparing them for the long-haul. He was calling them to recalibrate their thinking and way of being. He was calling them to a life of flourishing within the limits of their circumstances.
Change has been inevitable over the last year. In fact, you are probably sick of change, but I wonder if you’ve taken time to reflect on the changes you’ve had to make? The story of me trying to stay warm by a fire in the middle of winter in order to see friends, is just one example of how I have changed in order to flourish in this ice age known as Covid-19. Can you name something you would never have done if you weren’t experiencing this pandemic? How has those changes helped you to flourish? How can those changes give you pause for reflection and even thanksgiving?
Jeremiah’s vision for the Israelites was one that helped them to flourish in the midst of bad situation, but he didn’t leave them without hope for a future. God promised that exile was not the final chapter in the Israelites’ story:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope… I will restore you.”
May you be filled with hope as you continue to make changes that help you flourish. May you know that although we don’t know how many are the days, the days of this pandemic are numbered. May you hold onto the hope that in the midst of even the darkest days of this year, God will never leave you or forsake you. He will bring restoration.
Peace be upon you,
Chaplain Travis Jamieson