On March 24, 2020, the governor of Michigan issued Executive Order No. 2020-21 which called for a “temporary requirement to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.” Businesses that were considered non-essential were ordered to cease operations, and citizens were asked to remain in their homes except for doing those things they needed to in order to survive (get groceries, purchase medications, exercise while practicing appropriate social distancing guidelines, etc.).
We, my brothers and sisters, have essentially been quarantined.
What was meant to be a shock to the system in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus, has become for many of us a shock to our own personal systems and rhythms of life. If you’re not stir crazy yet, expect to be in the near future!
We are a culture who for decades has prized doing. Americans have long held that we have the best innovators, the most able work force, and an unstoppable spirit of ingenuity. The most common answer to “How are you doing?” has been, “Busy!” And we have prided ourselves in that. Which isn’t all bad. For decades that American spirit has also allowed us to serve the rest of the world with food relief, medical supplies, clean water initiatives, and a variety of other blessings (including planting churches around the world and spreading the gospel).
But now we’ve been asked to stop. We’ve been ordered to stay at home.
Which got me thinking of a couple of bible passages. The first is from Exodus 24:12
The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here…”
Hebrew scholars (Hebrew is the original language of what we call the Old Testament) say that the language here is redundant. The word “stay” translated here is the Hebrew word “be.” So God says to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and be here.”
If Moses were up on the mountain, where else would he be?
Why would God have to command him, once up on top of the mountain, to also be there?
A number of years ago, Tracy and I went on a trip to the Grand Canyon. If you haven’t been, you should plan a trip (after you’re allowed out of your house again!). It is absolutely breathtaking. It is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. I remember standing at the edge trying to take in the vastness, the breadth and depth, of what I was seeing. You can’t put it into words.
But honestly, after 10 minutes or so of standing at the edge of the canyon, after taking panoramic pictures and selfies, I remember thinking, “What do I do now? Is there a hike I should go on? Is there a better vantage point for pictures I should go to? Thank goodness I didn’t plan multiple days here. What would I do?”
The rabbis say God knew Moses would ascent the mountain and likely immediately be somewhere else. Thinking about the people still at the bottom of the mountain. Thinking about the long journey back down. Wondering if he’d brought enough food and water and toilet paper. Like us, he would be trying to think of what to do next. But God just wants him to stay at home on top of the mountain. Be patient and breathe and begin to understand your worth and your value don’t come from all that you do. They come from recognizing the source of your identity, worth, and value come from your relationship with God.
Which brings us to our second passage – this one from the book of Acts. Acts 1:4-8 says:
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, [Jesus] gave them this command, “D