And there we have it. 

The word is out, straight from Jacinda’s mouth: New Zealand has one final week of lockdown before… more lockdown, except with K-Fry runs and an eensy-weensy increase in bubble dimensions. Possibly some surfing for those blessed with more coordination than me. 

It was hard not to feel a surge of gratitude and national pride listening to this week’s COVID-19 live stream. How many countries around the world would yearn for our snail-paced spread and low mortality rate? Thank you Lord and well done Kiwis 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

If I had to hazard a guess, the Level-3 announcement is eliciting mixed emotions. Our sense of progress is tempered by the realisation that, for lots of us, precious little will change in our daily norms for at least the next three weeks. The future remains similarly hazy. 

Sigh.

Lately I’ve been looking to the heavy-weights for perspective, perusing the apostle Paul’s writings. Did you know most of his epistles were effectively penned from jail since he refused to keep the gospel on the downlow? 

The man gets being quarantined indefinitely. 

I’ve only waded as far as chapter one of his letter to the Philippians but that alone oozes joy as he pours out thanks for their faith in Jesus, for their persevering partnership in the gospel despite hostile opposition. So long as Jesus is the talk of the town, Paul is happy- even if he’s behind bars. As far as he’s concerned, living or dying is a win-win. Either way he gets to be with Jesus. He’s really quite taken with him.

In fact, in verse 20 he puts it like this: “I eagerly expect and hope that I… will have sufficient courage so that now as always my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.”  

Our capacity to love God and demonstrate his trustworthiness is not contingent on any external particulars. But it is contingent on having courage, the kind that only comes from being on close terms with the Holy Spirit. 

Out of curiosity, what kind of terms are you on at the moment? 

Level 4 or level 3, week 4 or week 14 of quarantine, honoring Jesus is not only possible but it’s our privilege and call as Christians. By ‘honor’, we mean to hold in high esteem. To show mad respect. To give consideration and attention.

Paul pleads passionately with us: “Whatever happens, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ.” (Phil 1:27) 

Still setting time aside to enjoy God in his word, in prayer, in the great outdoors (of your neighbourhood). 

Shooting up pleas for patience when the flatmate/ Mum/ bubblemate becomes infuriating.

Keeping connected with the rest of the Body, even when Sunday sleep ins are oh so tempting.

Refusing to go Sid-the-sloth on studies. Stopping to savour a weekly Sabbath.

Persevering in prayer for the world, and for our favorite people who don’t yet know Jesus.

Asking the Holy Spirit and friends for ideas on how to share Christ creatively.

Playing Uno with all the holy banter and vivacity you can muster. Then, when you lose, making good on the agreed-upon consequence: hurtling around the house in nought but what your Maker gave you. Preferably once it’s dark. 

And I recommend taking a leaf out of my bubblemate’s book: check to make sure no-one’s out for a night stroll first.

Just sayin’.

Why do you think Paul was so keen for his life and death to honor Jesus? If someone were to look at your mental thought-reel of late, what’s getting honor (i.e. heartfelt attention)? 

Image courtesy of Scott and Brooke Ligertwood

Grace Mackenzie is a Dunedin-based Fiwi (Fijian-Kiwi) on the Student Life national team. She relishes novels, pretty views and almost anything edible. When NZ moves to level 3 she looks forward to non-plunger coffee, walking along the beach, and hugging her non-bubble sister (not in that order, of course).