“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
– Isaiah 54:10
Hills and mountains are unshifting things. On a fine clear day, I can see the Blue Mountains from the train as I cross the Harbour Bridge. They offer a beautiful backdrop to the landscape. But I don’t anticipate that one day, they will have moved and no longer exist. So, I find this verse curious.
Compared to most parts of our world and even some parts of Australia, we in Sydney have been relatively unscathed by the pandemic. We have been living as if we are those unshakable, immovable hills. Perhaps we had made plans and were looking forward to a mid-winter break. A time to recharge our batteries, head north to where it is warmer, and enjoy time with family and friends.
I have taken to listening to the daily COVID updates. I’ve watched the numbers of infected rise slowly from zero to more and more again. Our safe world in Sydney has been shaken and we have retreated to lockdown to curb the spread. I have found it unsettling watching regular news updates and hearing people speak of what the Government could be doing or should be doing or looking for someone to blame for this recent outbreak. Last year’s strange, discombobulated feelings and mild panic have returned.
So, many plans have been thwarted. Holidays, interstate travel, time on the Great Barrier Reef, weddings, large family gatherings and more. And then there are the funerals that very few can attend. We have returned to working from home and meeting with others via zoom.
What has helped me since we have returned to living and working at home?
- Meditating upon this beautiful verse. I’ve read it each morning and let its truth fill my mind with what it tells me about God. When everything else in my world is in flux, his unfailing love will not be shaken. When everything else in my world is moving and changing, his covenant of peace will not shift. And my God is a God of compassion – with tenderness, he sees and hears and understands our needs and our fears. Rather than focusing on the uncertainties of what will happen tomorrow, I have grounded myself with the truth that God’s promises to us stand firm.
- I have revisited the helpful habits we developed last year while working from home and am rebuilding them into my day.
- I have made more phone calls. I call my Mum on FaceTime each evening to check in and chat. We talk about the books she is reading and what she has done that day. We talk about her dinner plans and I remind her that she can go out and walk around the block. I remind her that she managed last year and she can do it again. And she will.
- I have sent more text messages. I have thought about the people I know who live alone and reached out. I have prayed for them and shared this verse.
- I have made something with my hands. I’ve found a recipe and cooked. I’ve continued working on a quilt and enjoyed looking at the vibrant colours of the fabrics. I have coloured in a prayer card. Little things, but they have filled my day with new routines and the opportunity to focus on the here and now rather than stress about things I have no control over.
- I have made new plans for this new season. I may not be able to go away, or have my niece come to stay, but I can do other things. I can go out to exercise – I have cycled, I have walked – even in the rain. This has given me a sense of agency over what I can control.
- I have cut down my exposure to the amount of news and commentary about what is happening. Once a day is sufficient.
What about you? What is helping you manage our return to lockdown?
Loving heavenly Father, help me to remember that you are unchanging and that I can trust that you have my life in your hands. Thank you that you continue to love me the same today as the day that I became part of your family. Thank you for your son Jesus – that He knows what it is like to live in this world that is shaking. Please take away my fears and my fret and fill me with your peace and joy. Thank you for the little moments of joy in my life – that I have your word to read, that I can walk and that you have made a world that is beautiful. Help me to reach out and offer encouragement to others, pray for others, and do what I can to love my neighbour in this season of lockdown. In your Son’s precious name.