This time of coronavirus-caused sheltering-in-place has been… different. Some have described it as a time of reset—of giving us space to rediscover family, unplug and restore self, adopt new or renew hobbies. Others have viewed it as a time of forced isolation—time away from loved ones, and highly enjoyed activities. Still others have experienced it as a time of loss—loved ones, income, even enjoyment in life.
I’d like to add one more lens through which to view this sheltering-in-place time: A wilderness.
A wilderness is a stripped-down environment. Life is found in the wilderness, but it has adapted to a harsh environment where there is scarce rainfall, high heat during the day and intense cold at night, and an endless landscape of brown intermittently broken by patches of green or oases of water. Sheltering-in-place has stripped us of life as we knew it—our old normal—and thrust us into a new environment.
Besides being a place, a wilderness is also a time of intense training and conditioning.
Throughout the Bible, the wilderness—both time and place—has been God’s preferred setting for making His people. It’s there where He can take them to new heights and depths in Him. It’s there where He can reveal Himself without competing with daily life’s distractions. It’s there where He can teach lessons that will be needed to live successfully in the Promised Land.
Why am I going on so long about the wilderness?
Because as we re-enter the world from this time of sheltering-in-place, we’ll be re-entering from a wilderness.
It would be a shame to lose or forget the lessons the wilderness taught us as we scramble to resume life as it was pre-coronavirus.
Despite many opinions and ideas, no one truly knows what the world will look like when we fully re-enter it. It will be different, though—that we can confidently say, and we’ll have to adjust to a “new normal.” If we’ve cooperated with it, our wilderness time will have prepared us for that new normal.
Sheltering-in-place was a wake-up call for me. Until it happened, I hadn’t realized how much I am impacted by the world. I was surprised to discover that I hadn’t learned how to abide in Jesus as much as I thought I had. Being forced to withdraw from the world because the world had closed its doors caused me to examine the spiritual home and world I had built in Jesus.
So, my most important lesson was whether the world is “open” or “closed,” my focus on Jesus shouldn’t be affected. Regardless of what the world does and when and how it does it, I should be abiding, living in, making my home and my world in Jesus.
Now the question is: Have I learned to make my spiritual home and spiritual world strong enough to allow me to interact differently with the natural world when sheltering-in-place ends?
As I engage with the reopened world, I’ll find out.
How about you? What lessons did you learn in the wilderness? What new insights will you take with you into the new normal?