It is encouraging to hear how God is at work in and through members of our church, even as we are all social distancing. Check out MaryAnn Roberts’ story below.
The last couple months have been different than expected for all of us with an array of joys and sorrows during social distancing. My roommate moved out at the beginning of April, which initially was really hard living alone in our social distancing world. One provision for me has been more shared life with my neighbors.
I live in a row house in the city. I’ve gotten to know several of the people on my block over the last 2.5 years but COVID-19-world has made us all slow down, providing more time to linger to chat. With fewer planned activities, God has been showing me that it’s good to take more time and really listen to and get to know my neighbors when I run into them. One couple, Tim and Jeanne, live 3 doors down. They have been very strictly quarantining due to Tim’s lung condition and are legitimately concerned about this virus. I’ve been so blessed that once or twice per week when I get home from work they are out on their balcony near where I park. I stand in the street under their balcony to process my day with them and hear how they are doing. One afternoon I took gardening supplies over to their yard under their balcony and planted herbs at a safe distance under the tutelage of Jeanne. She has borrowed my sewing machine to make masks and they called me in the middle of the night for medical advice. One afternoon as I was getting home from work, I shared with them how I was challenged by our church’s corporate devotions of Lamentations to trust God that he is powerful over COVID as well as personally caring for us in this. She said she has never read Lamentations and she had a hard time understanding a God who is letting this virus be so deadly. I have sent her the devotional questions and hope to follow up with her.
At the beginning of April, the rickety fence between Josh and Candi’s and my backyard providentially blew over. That weekend we spent an afternoon demoing the fence together. The next weekend my other neighbor, Garrett, helped demo a stone wall on the other side of their backyard. Afterwards, we all gathered in our communal backyard to help Josh with a little more yard work, drink a beer and catch up. Sharing a backyard has meant I can open my door if they are outside and vent about my day, borrow ingredients, go on a bike ride, have fire pit nights or drink Cinco de Mayo margaritas together. One night around the fire pit I heard more about how Josh grew up culturally Jewish and seems agnostic now. Candi is in a Genesis study with her church and has a lot of questions about the Bible. I haven’t had huge gospel-sharing moments but get to share bits and pieces about the Lord as topics come up. Sometimes as a Christian I can be tempted to “evangelize” to feel better about myself, name-drop Jesus, quickly share the gospel or try to be the savior to help someone. I think we should be very bold! But I’m learning the value in asking God to shine through me in longer-term relationships. This involves getting to know my neighbors for who they are as people, hearing their stories and enjoying the gift of their companionship during this time.
Even though I haven’t seen you in many weeks, church family, I am encouraged by the thought that you as well are living out trust in Christ and loving your family, friends and neighbors in the day in and day out! May God save those we love and give us more opportunities to share for the reason of our hope.