5 Ways to Love the World When You Can't Leave Home
There's a sign on the inside of our door that reads, "There's a great big world out there waiting to be loved by YOU!" It's a reminder I want us to encounter every time we leave our home and go out to school, work, church, and most of all, our community. I passed by the sign this morning, almost six long weeks into our shelter-in-home order for the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. At first, I sighed and thought, "When will we get to go out and love the world again?" But then I heard Jesus whisper to my weary heart, "Love them right where you are."
And I began to think about what it means to love the world when you can't leave your home. Yes, being able to move freely about allows us to tangibly share God's love with others. But then again, our freedom is often the source of our busyness and distraction.
I've said for weeks that this time stuck at home is a gift we all needed. Time with family to slow down and just be together; have the conversations we've always wanted to have but didn't have space for. And maybe six weeks in the joy of that gift is waning. Being cooped up with those you love is a blessing and a challenge, let's be real about that.
So maybe it's time we allow God to move our hearts—now more knit together than ever—to the world beyond the four walls keeping us safe. No, we can't go visit loved ones or volunteer at the food pantry. We may not be able to rush to a friend's house to help her out or contribute to recent storm clean up in our community. But we can love the world, right where we are.
5 Ways to Love the World When You Can't Leave Home
1. Pray - No matter where we are, we can pray. God is always available to listen as we talk to Him. The very best thing we can do during this time is to pray. Pray for the sick. Pray for our health heroes on the front lines. Pray for the lonely and hurting. Pray for those who have lost their jobs. Pray that people would come to know God in deeper ways through this time of needing Him desperately. Pray together as a family. Read this post if you're not sure where to start in talking to your kids about prayer.
2. Care for Creation - When we can't go far, we can focus in, right where we are. Look for ways to take care of God's beautiful world in your own backyard. Haven't started recycling? Why not now? Have you always wanted to plant a garden but didn't have time? Now is your chance! If you don't feel ready to do something specific, spend time marveling at God's creation and learn about what you can do. We've got some great ideas to get you started in this Earth Day post.
3. Reach Out - We can't GO out but we can still REACH out. I keep thinking what it would have been like just twenty years ago to be stuck at home in the midst of a pandemic. No streaming services, no social media to connect with family and friends. No text messages (well, maybe twenty years ago we had some form of texting but definitely no emojis!), no Zoom get-togethers. The very thing that's been so distracting for so long has now become a lifeline. If we use it well, it can be a gift during this time; a tool to reach out. I've connected with college friends I haven't spoken to in years because we all have time to actually pay attention and respond as we scroll through social media.
Technology is not the only way to reach out. I've read stories of children starting pen pal friendships while stuck at home. What a wonderful time to introduce children to the lost art of letter writing to keep in touch with loved ones and friends near and far. What if our children learned during this time how to drop a "just because" note in the mail to brighten someone's day when they least expect it?
4. Dig In - . . . to God's Word that is! If ever you've felt you don't have time for family devotions or even your own quiet time, hopefully now, you have a little more time on your hands. With the slower pace that's come from the pandemic (or if you're reading this after it's all said and done but can't leave your house because of a new baby or illness), you can find time to dig into God's Word. The Minno Bible is a great way to do that as a family. Each story includes a devotional family connection at the end to help you learn, talk, and pray together. If you're looking for a way to dig in on your own, check out the amazing Bible studies from our friends at She Reads Truth or Proverbs 31.
So how does digging into God's Word help you love the world better? Because reading the Bible aligns our heart with God's heart. When we open ourselves up to His Word, He'll place passions and ideas within us that we may not have felt otherwise. Try it, and see what He puts on your heart!
5. Look Forward - . . . because this won't last forever. But this interruption is a gift, even though it's hard and devastating for so many. If we don't come out of this time different than before, we've missed God's desire to take what is bad and turn it into something good. Just like He did so many times in the Bible, God is in the business of redeeming hard and hopeless situations and creating beauty from ashes. So look forward. What do you want to learn during this time? What do you want to be different when it's all over? How can your family love the world better because of what you learned from this experience? Maybe you want to reach out to the elderly more because you realize how lonely they must have been during this time. Maybe you want to love on healthcare workers and thank them for all they do—during a pandemic AND every day of their lives.
God-willing, this time won't last much longer. But as long as it does, we can use it to "reach out" and love others in new and creative ways.
There's a great big world out there waiting to be loved by YOU. How will you show them Jesus right now?