The Long Sigh

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It’s no secret; COVID-19 has infiltrated every aspect of modern-day life. “Social Distancing” has evolved from a once obscure term, to an over-used tag-line associated with day-to-day activity. Medical masks are now as common as sneakers among citizens. News-radio has shifted its programming to 24-hour-a-day reporting of updates on the latest casualties and restrictions associated with the virus. Toilet-paper—for whatever reason—has become a hot commodity. Schools and universities are closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 season. Small businesses have shut their doors; some may never recover. And, all around the world, people are afraid. The times are truly unprecedented; yet another commonly used term for the turn of the new decade.

Despite the “doom-and gloom” reality we’re faced with today, I see something else. I see people turning to God, in prayer for one-another. I see pastors all over the world—the world—using social media to reach not only their own congregants, but a drove of new seekers-of -truth, in these uncertain times. While “Social Distancing” keeps us apart, party-goers are turning to Instagram and Facebook Live, to listen to—and watch—DJs throw live sessions of every genre of music imaginable. ZOOM, Skype and Duo platforms are not only keeping business meetings on track, but connecting families together in ways that were not seen before the pandemic.

Despite the “Stay Home; Stay Safe” order, I see families bike-riding the streets of my neighborhood. I see couples taking leisurely walks. I see families posting photos and videos displaying their renewed family-household dinners; family game-nights and family puzzle sessions. I see neighbors interacting at a distance, in ways formerly prevented by the daily hustle and bustle of normal work-hours. And, I hear children outside. Sure, kids are still playing video-games online, but the constricting air of indoors is causing them to get out into the fresh air of the Michigan Springtime. Backyards are abuzz with the sounds of laughter, the smells of burning charcoal and searing meats.

I see more of my favorite authors taking to social media to interact with fans, in ways previously hindered by demanding schedules. I see you Janet Boynes. I see some of my closest author-friends using the internet as a platform to not only display their work to the masses, but to entertain their adoring fans in new ways. I see you Lindsay Marcum.   

Around the world, marine wildlife is returning to areas previously dominated by human presence. Dolphins are swimming the canals of Italy. White swans are congregating in park-lakes. The few brave fishermen daring enough to take to the pole, in defiance of the “Stay Home; Stay Safe” order, are reporting fish biting like never before, now that the human presence is removed from their natural habitat.

The world is slowing down. In spite of the devastating pandemic, and its life-altering affects on our modern society, civilization is collectively taking a much-needed pause. We didn’t ask for it. We certainly didn’t want it like this. But, underlying the tragedy taking center-stage is a quiet beauty; something I find comfort in seeing every day, in our new reality. I truly see that God is still in control. In this time, when the future of our society as we’ve known it seems to be at the brink of permanent change, God’s hand is still moving over the earth, bringing families closer together and friends into a more compassionate sense of caring. We’re reaching out to one another more. We’re checking on our elders. We’re smiling in the midst of sorrow. We’re laughing in the sight of death. And we’re praying more than we were just 365 days ago.

I didn’t realize how beautiful my new neighborhood was, until my wife and I made it a priority to take walks together. I didn’t realize how grateful I am to have her by my side, to weather this temporary world-wide storm with. I didn’t realize how much I love my family…until I was put in a position where I have to spend time with them. I didn’t realize how blessed I am to have God in my life, until He slowed down the entire world, just to get everyone’s attention.

Are you paying attention? Or…are you waiting for things to go back to “normal” and missing out on what He’s trying to tell you? Look beyond the fear and the anxiety. Listen for the whisper. Look at what’s happening just underneath the veil of mass panic. Trust me; God’s got this.