This pandemic has put us all on trial. It feels as though the Law just got an upgrade: the standard of a “good” person now includes socializing responsibly, sanitizing our environment safely, and living in quarantine successfully. In other words, there are now new ways to fail, a raised bar by which we are judged.
And of course we are being judged—by governing authorities, medical workers, neighbors, countries, colleagues, customers, banks, friends, social media followers, and even by our own spouses and children (as we learn to share our space!). A whole new set of criteria to qualify us as respectable, law-abiding citizens has just been adopted:
Use this quarantine season well—do not waste this sabbath/sanctification opportunity! (That’s my intention…)
Don’t miss any school-at-home assignments and Zoom calls with your children’s teachers! (Oops.)
Do NOT surrender to the Screens! (They have already won.)
Help our neighbors! (Trying to…)
Stay home! (Just going to the Starbucks drive-thru…)
Wear a mask! (Done.)
I have long believed that everyone is capable of committing every kind of sin, given the right circumstances. Well, it’s true. Sins I previously abhorred, like sloth and spiritual apathy, are now daily temptations I often give in to. I have read public confessions of people returning to past addictions—drinking, smoking, pornography, overeating—simply because they are at home with nothing better to do. We are incredibly vulnerable right now. The Coronavirus card is just too easy to pull and use as an excuse to get out of pre-pandemic promises—because the Virus is more than an excuse; it is a completely legit, life-altering disease.
By God’s grace, I’m well (or still asymptomatic!), so I can’t use Covid to get out of anything. I must accept my new normal—I now have more sins and guilt for Jesus to die for than I had a month ago.
God’s standards don’t flex for a pandemic. He still requires perfection. (Darn!)
The Law–which is reflective of God’s perfection and therefore good for us, continues to make demands of me that I cannot meet. This bad news is crushing. But it comes at the perfect time: Holy Week—the time of year when all of our good intentions are fulfilled by Jesus, our God-sent substitute, and we are forgiven (!!) for failing to live up to the Law.
I can’t help feeling like the unending rain this week (at least in Southern California) is a Flood-like cleansing of the earth. It is a 2 Chronicles 7:14 call to heal our land—not only with prayers of praise (easy), but with prayers of personal, communal confession, a rain of repentance—beginning with the lips of GOD’s people (hard). Let us cast our sins onto the body of Christ this Good Friday by confessing them. Real blood was shed for real sins. Our forgiven sins are the record of Jesus’ gracious work in our lives.
Let me get us started while the Holy Spirit is active…before I lose my nerve…
I cheated on a seminary exam. (The *most* sanctifying experience of my life!)
I was caught shoplifting a $3 item at Target. (Like I said, perfect circumstances…DM me for details.)
I yell too much at my kids. And my husband.
I text and drive regularly.
When a cashier gives me too much change, I keep it.
Sometimes I use four-letter words. And I like it.
I have filled my water cup with lemonade (but you already knew that…).
THANK YOU, JESUS, FOR GIVING ME YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. I CLEARLY HAVE NONE OF MY OWN.