It's been two weeks since this "shelter in place" life began. I had heard over the past few weeks that if you needed toilet paper or paper towels, you had to be at the store before it opened. It was time for me to learn the new way of shopping.
When I arrived, there were about 5 cars in the parking lot. I decided that I would sit in my car and wait since there wasn't anyone standing in line yet. I called my mom and chatted for a bit and as we chatted, the cars began to show up. I decided I should go see if these lines were true. To my surprise there was already a line of about 20 people! We were all spaced 6 feet apart. I felt the Holy Spirit remind me to put on the armor of God before I went in. " Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6:13-17)
As soon as the clock struck 8:00 am, the train began to roll. I say train because that was exactly what it looked like. All of us with our carts following behind one another straight back to the toilet paper/paper towel section. I was chuckling inside because I really couldn't believe I was actually following a line of people to the toilet paper corner. About half way there, a guy comes around the corner and yells, "well we're out of luck today. No paper goods." I stayed in line because I just needed to see for my self. I think everyone else did too. He was right, the aisle was bare. It was so sad.
I pushed my cart down the aisle with a heaviness in my soul. The store was unusually quiet and the shoppers stayed the appropriate distance from each other. No store clerks walking around either. I picked up a few things that were on my list and decided that I was going to take some time to walk and pray. The final word in Ephesians 6 is "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." I felt the Holy Spirit again tell me to pray. As I traveled up and down the aisles praying in the Spirit, I could literally feel the weight of shame. Ashamed not only for giving into the entitled life that I have been living, but our country in general. I was immediately reminded of 2 Chronicles 7:14 that says, "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." Jeff has often said God gives us to chance to humble ourselves. If we don't do it, then we will be humbled whether we like it or not. That's what I was feeling as I looked at this naked aisle. I was standing there ashamed. I mean, toilet paper? Really? Really.
I repented, in Target of all places. I asked the Lord to forgive me and us, as a country for living so entitled and prideful. As I sit here writing this, my mind is flooding with all the things we've put before God. We have lived in a country that has built idols. Lots of them. From entertainment, sporting events, cellphones, social media, politics, racism, restaurants, coffee, wine, and the obvious, money. Think about it, there's an "iron bull" statue on Wall Street! We live to serve the stock market. It reminds me of the golden calf the Israelites worshiped after they left Egypt. They took the gold and silver they had collected from the Egyptians and rather than give it to God and worship Him, they chose to make a an idol with it. (Exodus 32) When people chose what they thought was right in their own eyes, which we have done, they were called wicked. We've become wicked people because we feed our flesh whatever it wants and now we can hardly find toilet paper to clean up after the waste! And I'm not excluding the Church. As Christians we are no different because we expect our churches to model the world. Are the seats comfortable? It's too cold or too hot in the sanctuary. Who has the best worship? We don't even care what the pastor has to say anymore. It just matters if the church is cool and is it relevant to the culture today. I apologize for my truthfulness, but I know too many people who call themselves Christians that don't even go to church because they've decided the church is full of hypocrites.
So here we are today, March 26th, 2020 quarantined to our homes because of a virus. No more entertainment, sporting events, club sports, school, college, dining out, going to bars and clubs. Even church is closed. Personally, I feel like God is taking this terrible thing that has happened and He's turning it for good (Romans 8:28). He has given us a chance to reboot and to reclaim our lives again. To see that we can live without all the "stuff" and realize what is important. First, that we can only depend on Him for provision, not in our jobs or ourselves. Second, we are now having family time and eating meals together at home. This was always an important thing with God. I mean, the first thing we do when Jesus returns is eat together, "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”" (Revelation 19:9)
I want to close with this. Should this become our "new normal," what are you learning from it? What things have you put before God? I am with you in this. I have complained and put things first, but I really feel like the Holy Spirit is speaking loud and clear to me. This is just the beginning of diseases and virus' to come. Look how easy it is to shut down businesses and jobs. Proverbs 19:21 says, "You can make many plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail." From the very beginning, He wanted a relationship with us. It's time to get this Nation back under Him. Jesus came so we could have life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). Jesus didn't give His life so we could squander it in the material things. He gave His life so we could live in relationship with God, be blessed and spend eternity with Him. Take some time to think about this. He knows you have the time, because we're in a quarantine. Get out your Bible that's been on the shelf or go to the Bible online and read some "good news." Let Him speak to you and fill your life with His love. Let that become your "new normal."