I am a recluse by nature. My idea of a perfect getaway is a secluded mountain cabin with a good supply of food and coffee, books to peruse, and vistas to admire. I’d want to have contact with my family for sure, but I think a full week could easily pass before I really missed other human beings.
So, when the Corona virus pandemic started making its way around the globe, I wasn’t too worried about the idea of staying home for a while. Being a quasi-germaphobe made the idea of quarantine even more acceptable. While the situation was concerning, it seemed like I was geared for it.
I miss society more than I thought! Yes, I still have a penchant for solitude, but I’ve realized that regular human interaction is a blessing often taken for granted. I’ve missed the freedom to basically come and go as I please, to keep a social schedule, and to casually interact with folks in public places. And I miss the steady buzz of activity assuring me that things are normal. That’s not to make light of the suffering and loss of so many in this health and economic crisis, but there’s something to be said for normalcy.
Even if we’re healthy, the prospect of indefinitely sheltering in place isn’t normal. Staying at least six feet apart isn’t normal, and neither is wearing a face mask. Losing the opportunity to be productive and involved in people’s lives in a meaningful way isn’t normal either (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13). Nothing about shutting down society is normal by any stretch of the imagination. Although we’re less than perfect social creatures, we should all agree that normal is a blessing.
My wife and I became members of a new church just in time to have the relationships we were building with other Christians put on hold. Small numbers have gathered on Sunday mornings in keeping with official health guidelines. Like so many others, we’ve taken advantage of technology to make our services public, and I’m grateful for all of this. But the communion we share in Christ isn’t something that can ever truly be fulfilled while “social distancing.”
When churches around the world congregate on the Lord’s Day, it’s for Christians to receive God’s grace as those who are one in our Lord Jesus (Jn. 17:14-26). We gather to hear God’s Word, to pray, and to experience the Gospel beautifully portrayed in the Lord’s Supper and baptism (Acts 2:42; Heb. 10:19-25). The Christian faith is shared between believers up close and personal in these ordinary ways and in the ordinary lives we share. I’ve come to miss this the most as a normal part of my life.
Since God is sovereign, I know He has a perfect purpose for this very abnormal time (Rom. 8:28). At the very least, He’s teaching me to be thankful for normal.