I’m not allowed to leave the house. I’m not allowed to visit my family. I’m not even allowed to go for a day out to the movies and a restaurant. I’ve been told. And this time, it wasn’t from my wife.
Under stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne, Victoria, the only permissible reasons to leave home is to do some essential grocery shopping, going for a quick bit of exercise, providing essential care to someone in need or travelling to work (with a very restricted list of what workplaces are permitted).
I feel like I’m stuck under house arrest.
It’s a weird feeling. My lounge room is set up for the following things:
- Watching TV
- An office space with laptop, desk and chair
- A couch for relaxing and reading
- A studio for our livestream church service
- A mentoring space for kids who are no longer motivated to complete their remote learning tasks
- A space for prayer and reflection
- A piano for musical interludes in between answering calls and checking emails.
All I need is a pie-maker and a coffee machine hammered to the wall and portable blow-up mattress to finish the room.
Under house arrest
I was considering how others have coped with such challenges, and my mind was taken back to the story of Paul. He ended up under house arrest for two whole years in Rome. You read the story as it develops in the book of Acts in the Bible. He is persecuting these new followers of Jesus in the first century, until he has an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He is blinded for three days, until the Lord gives him back his sight. His life turns around and he becomes an active, passionate communicator of who Jesus is. He tells anyone who will listen about what Jesus did for him and how he changed his life.
Well, in that process, there are many who were offended by what Paul was preaching about. He got tossed before political leader after political leader and it seemed no one in Jerusalem knew what to do with this man. And so then comes Rome. After a long, arduous journey by boat (and remember this was no luxury cruise-liner), he finds himself set up under house arrest (his feet possibly chained), for two years.
We see in Acts chapter 28 what happens… He witnessed to visitors day and night about the kingdom of God and again, what Jesus had done for him. Some took offence at his words and Paul notes:
“Go to this people and say,
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’”
Paul’s passion was that people would SEE, and HEAR and UNDERSTAND what the truth was. Day and night, under house arrest he would allow visitors to join him and they would discuss together this message about Jesus Christ.
Open my eyes
In this lockdown and period of social isolation I want to see, hear and understand what God is trying to say to me. I know that theologically speaking God could heal the entire world’s population at the mere click of a finger, but clearly that’s not happening. So what am I meant to be seeing and hearing right now?
Could it be that:
· God wants me to see the importance of relationship
· God wants me to hear his voice, and that comes when I’m surrounded by far less distractions
· God wants me to understand his love for me, and I’ve missed it because of the tyranny of busyness
· God wants me to explore the incredible riches of his grace
· God wants me to hear the whisper of encouragement that only comes when I posture myself to a place of listening
· God wants me to understand that his power and presence is not bound by man-made ecclesiastical structures
There is so much to see, hear and understand. And if you’re experiencing stage 4 restrictions like me in Victoria, I wonder what God is saying to you?
One thing I do know is that I’m going to be under house arrest for some time to come and I’ve got plenty of time to see, hear and understand.
Pete Brookshaw is the Senior Minister of The Salvation Army Craigieburn. He has a Bachelor of both Business and Theology and is passionate about the church being dynamic and effective in the world and creating communities of faith that are outward-focused, innovative, passionate about the lost and committed to societal change. He has been blogging since 2006 at http://www.petebrookshaw.com about leadership and faith and you can find him on:
Peter Brookshaw’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/peter-brookshaw.html