It’s been a strange year, hasn’t it? Parts of life that were once so stable we rarely gave thought to them have been disrupted.
Our life rhythms and habits have been interrupted. Your work life may have changed. Maybe you’re working from home. Maybe meetings are via Zoom instead of around a conference table. School life has changed, with virtual learning. Community spaces have changed, with limits to our access and interactions in places like restaurants, coffee shops, and gyms. Our social interactions have changed, with our facial expressions hidden behind masks and the physical distance created by the practice of social distancing.
The list goes on, but I don’t need to enumerate it for you. You, I’m sure, can close your eyes and imagine how different the dynamics of your life are today than they were just a year ago. We all, I think, feel the weight of this. We all, I know, are eager for life to return to some semblance of normalcy, and, Lord willing, those days may come soon.
One thing I’ve heard throughout this season is that these alterations and restrictions have put our frontlines on hold. Can this really be the case? Can there truly be a time and place where we can fall outside of the scope of God’s work in the world? Does a pandemic have the ability to put disciples of Christ on the sidelines?
Here at Vere, you may hear us refer to the idea of a “frontline.” These are the places, people, and spaces we encounter and inhabit on a regular basis, where we can be representatives and agents of God’s Kingdom and work in the world.
For most of us, we don’t have merely one space or relationship where we can live this out. Instead, we have many small frontlines that knit together to form the ways God can—and is—using us in the world. Your work life is part of your frontline, but so is the mailman you regularly interact with and your child’s teacher and the neighbor across the street.
Over the last several months, your frontline may have shifted. The places and spaces may look different. Your ability and opportunity to interact with others may have changed. But you are still a disciple of Jesus, living in the world, with opportunities to model and speak of His Kingdom before a watching world. You are not on the sidelines. Your frontline is not on hold.
When we go through transition and our frontlines shift, we sometimes need help reimagining what it may look like for God to use us in our new environment. This is true in this season. But it will also be true in other points in our life, like when sickness alters our social landscape or when we lose a job or choose to retire. What we need in this season is the space to imagine and brainstorm how we can continue to engage within this new context. If you are a church leader, this is a great way you can be equipping the disciples in your congregation.
There are griefs and hindrances in this pandemic season. But there are also great opportunities. In a time of stress, discouragement, and uncertainty, disciples of Jesus are needed on the frontlines more than ever.
Diana Gruver (MA, Gordon-Conwell) writes about discipleship and spiritual formation in the every day. She is the author of Companions in the Darkness: Seven Saints who Struggled with Depression and Doubt. You can find her online at www.dianagruver.com or on Facebook or Twitter. Diana originally published this work with the Vere Institute (Oct 2014 – May 2021), which was founded to empower Christians to integrate their faith into everyday life. The Vere Institute’s legacy lives on through our Vere Library.