There’s a lot being talked about social distancing at the moment. Should it stay at 2 metres or change to 1 meter or perhaps 1.5 metres? Medically speaking, 2 metres must be the better option, but then what about the hospitality industry and the economy?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve sort of got used to avoiding people. I knock the door to deliver groceries and automatically take 2 paces backwards. I ring my cycle bell vigorously when riding thru the park and then hold my breath as inevitably the couple I’ve disturbed decide to retreat one on each side of the narrow path and I have to steer between them. Definitely not 2 metres. Nor is it possible to achieve 2 metres when passing people on the towpath – without falling into the canal that is. And in the supermarket also it’s well-nigh impossible.
So if you ask me if I’m social distancing the answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ I suppose.
But then, the other day, as I was walking my 12 laps around the cricket field at 6 in the morning, a time long before the cricketers and footballers I would need to avoid, were likely to emerge, a strange thought occurred to me.
What if God asked me that question, “Are you socially distancing – from me?” That’s how it came to me in 2020 speak, but then I translated it into the old fashioned 2019 version and it came out as, “Are you avoiding me?” OR “Why aren’t you spending more time with me; don’t you want to?” These days when I have so much extra time on my hands, am I spending a good proportion of it with the Lord? That was the challenge, or perhaps rebuke, that he was asking me to consider.
Yes, I’ve read more of the Bible during lockdown, and prayed more than usual, but I’m not sure that all of that counts as really spending time with the Lord and listening to him.
James 4 verse 8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you…” That is quite the reverse of today’s physical social distancing, but there’s absolutely no danger in it. Rather the reverse – a huge potential blessing. Being a member of God’s family, we can meet him at any time, and as many times, as we want – and without the aid of zooms or bubbles!
I’ve heard many people express their longing to meet and to once more be able to hug their relatives and friends. In fact, it reminded me of the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. When the younger son returned home, verse 20 says, “his father… ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” God is not waiting for lockdown to be fully lifted, he’s ready waiting, watching for us to come right now and like the father in the story, longing to welcome us with a hug.
I’ve also heard several people, especially those who have been shielding, say that they are afraid of going out and meeting people again. They’d love to pop around to a friend’s and share a meal, but not yet, and that’s understandable. This dilemma reminded me of yet another Bible verse: Rev 3 v 20. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
We may not be able to share hospitality with anyone outside our own bubble just now, but there’s absolutely nothing stopping us from sharing fellowship – a spiritual feast with the Lord even today.
Go for it!