Before 2020, I helped at a nonprofit, belonged to several service groups at church, and regularly visited a friend in a nursing home. One of the many negative aspects of the pandemic was the end of those volunteer activities.
The constraints of Covid-19 made me feel like a passive Christian.
Mother Teresa said we are the wire and the current is God. We have the power to let the current pass through us, use us, and produce the light of the world: Jesus.
Passive Christianity, when the current of God isn’t passing through us, is religion losing its strength and is the opposite of the active Christianity Mother Teresa was talking about.
Yet how could I be an active Christian, expressing my faith in this socially-distanced, pandemic world? How could I be the current, when interactions are so limited?
The answer came to me in bits and pieces when I discovered that sometimes God uses us when we least expect it, in ways we don’t anticipate. In other words, God can work through us anywhere, anytime, even during a pandemic.
When the best of plans come crashing down
I ran across the story of a young missionary who entertained grandiose plans of spreading God’s words. She traveled halfway across the world to fulfill her mission and tell people about Jesus.
But her carefully crafted plans came crashing down around her when she found herself being required to do more and more housework for the family she was living with. This was hard, backbreaking labor, washing without the benefit of washers and dryers, cooking without mixes, and taking care of a large family of children.
She had no time to preach the gospel. She was too busy being a servant to these people.
She went through a period of resentment and rebellion before accepting the fact that this might be part of God’s plan. If he called her to this, who was she to argue? She would help this family, even if it meant not completing her missionary work.
But an interesting thing happened toward the end of her stay. The people she lived with came to view her as a friend and helper instead of an arrogant foreigner. Their hearts opened to her message because she had been willing to serve.
I thought when I read this story about all the service projects I used to be involved in, and it dawned on me that God might have a different plan.
We can serve where we are
My current arena is in my home, taking care of my elderly mother. She is 101-years-old, suffers from dementia, and can no longer perform simple, daily tasks.
She has a habit of repeating over and over again, “God help me,” when she is trying to dress, or walk, or eat. And I have started responding, “God sent me to help you.”
One day, nodding happily, she said, “I guess he did.”
There are ways we can serve, even if we are more limited than we used to be. We can give more money to charity, collect food for the local food pantry, or stay in touch by phone with people going through a hard time.
We can pray for people and let them know it, do yardwork for a neighbor who is sick, or choose kindness instead of impatience when frustrations overwhelm us.
Lasagna Love was started at the beginning of the pandemic when Rhiannon Menn was looking to help moms in her community. She and her toddler started making and delivering meals to families in the neighborhood who were struggling or feeling overwhelmed.
The idea caught on and has grown into a national movement, with thousands of people cooking and delivering meals to families in their neighborhood.
Through my Good Neighbor app, I found out that people in my area are involved in Lasagna Love, delivering meals locally. And it’s easy to sign up, either to receive a meal or to prepare and deliver one.
Opportunities to serve are all around us because people in need are all around us. If we are too concerned about Covid-19 to meet people face-to-face, we can send cards, phone people, or connect through Zoom.
Mothers with small children at home are already steeped in service, making sure their children are still nurtured, educated, and spiritually nourished during these times of isolation.
Faith in action means we reveal, through a spirit of humility and compassion, what it means to place God first in our lives. We allow ourselves to be the current Mother Teresa was talking about.
Christianity expressed only in words is like a severed wire. The current can’t pass through us to produce any light. If we mistakenly believe we can’t live out our faith in our present circumstances, God will show us a different way. There is no arena too confined or too limited for God to work in our lives.
This is a time, more than ever before, to live out our faith in whatever arena God has placed us in. Like the missionary who chafed under her circumstances, only to discover that God was using those very circumstances to enhance her witness, we can discover that God uses these times to fulfill His purposes through us.
Pray about it. Listen to those inner promptings deep within your spirit. Then step out in obedience, following those promptings. This isn’t the time to be a passive Christian.