Like many, my social life ground to a halt this past February as COVID-19 swept the globe. I’m a natural introvert who is happy in my own head, but the loss of daily personal interactions has hit me hard. I have not maintained many of my closest friendships and find a deep sadness when I reflect on some of what has been lost.
Sure there are remote meetings, texts and phone calls. Occasionally, I even don a mask for a quick grocery run or to pick up dinner. But gone are the hallway conversations at work, the early morning group runs and the planned and impromptu social gatherings. While some people have maintained a somewhat normal social life, I have not. In the many months of self-enforced quarantine I have, however, had a unique chance to reflect.
We have built many of our individual behavior patterns and cultural expectations around human interactions; and for good reason. Humans are relational beings, created by a relational God, who Himself declared, “It is not good for man to be alone” [Gen 2:18]. We live life surrounded by others, often having to purposefully make time for ourselves. Largely our success in life is measured by our interactions with and influence over others.
If you are like me, much of your day was, and perhaps still is routine with well understood patterns and expectations. And while I miss the routine, I have recognized that most of it was just that – routine. What I really miss are the moments between the routine. The real, personal, unscripted and unexpected moments when my soul collides with another human soul.
I have discovered that I need those soul collisions; I need those moments when something deep in my being touches something unexpectedly real and raw within another. When I am vulnerable with someone who responds in kind, something almost supernatural occurs. The more I purposefully explore those moments, the more I am convinced that they are in fact, exactly supernatural.
Despite my isolation there are a small number of relationships that have truly blossomed in this pandemic. One is my relationship with my dad. My parents live about three hours away. In the years since I left home, we have typically seen each other once every few months. Our relationship has always been good, but in the last months we have experienced a drastic increase in soul collisions.
My dad is a gifted pastor (he is also a decent truck driver), but he is not energized by ever changing technology. Shortly after the shelter in place announcements I stepped in to help him transition to online streaming of his weekly messages. I am not a professional A/V tech, but I can usually find my way around cameras, computers and the internet.
We started simply with an online streaming service that allowed me to control a live stream from Minnesota while my dad spoke from his living room 150 miles away in Wisconsin. After each message, my wife would join us along with my mom. We would sit and talk (via video chat), often for hours. We were having very meaningful, soul colliding conversations weekly despite the physical separation.
My dad and I, like most people often approach and understand the world a bit differently. But in the past months, we have recognized a shared passion that I don’t think we would have pursued without the pandemic.
The Bible is full of instructions that seem impossible to follow. There are promises that seem simply outrageous. We have both been in churches and around believers our entire lives, but we are each grappling with a desire to reconcile our faith experience with what it says in scripture and how we feel in our souls.
Somehow, stepping out of routine cleared fertile ground for new growth. The feeling of disconnectedness has drawn us together in a new way. As our souls collide, we recognize a shared desire to actually do all that we do in the name of Jesus. That seems audacious and impossible – and yet, how many times have I quoted, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” [Phil 4:13]?
In a time when people are thinking about human frailty and anxiously contemplating death, we have begun to explore what it really means to live. There are countless passages that talk about the life we should live because Jesus has reconciled us to our Heavenly Father. We are a new creation [2 Cor 5:17], born again [1 Pet 1:3] and alive in Christ [Eph 2:5]. Yet those promises, and the reality they represent often fail to impact the way we feel, think and act.
As a believer, I can theoretically and theologically agree with the apostle Paul: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” [Phil 1:21]. I can confidently declare that “the life I live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” [Gal 2:20]. Yet I still worry – and that has me thinking.
In a time of great division, we are coming together, challenging one other to get out of the routine, the comfortable, the status quo (the kingdom of earth) and truly seek first the Kingdom of God [Mat 6:33] with the help of the ever-present Spirit of God [Jn 14:16, Ro 5:5].
In a time of social distancing, we are dreaming of a community where souls can collide – even remotely. So, how about you? What if, in All That You Do, you could truly Live in the promises and reality of the Gospel? We invite you to collide with us as you also pursue Jesus’ invitation and charge: