Hitting the Reset Button: COVID-19 and the God of Second Chances
by Dale Reeves
While having breakfast with his wife the other day, a good friend of mine said, “Maybe this virus is here to give people a reset button.” I think Wayne is exactly right. This season we are currently experiencing is a huge opportunity for humanity to hit reset.
There are lots of great RE . . . words, aren’t there? What an opportunity for all of us to pause during this season of shutdown, take a deep breath, and bring back to life some things that may have been dead in our lives. What an opportunity to course correct some things that were going down the wrong path. What an opportunity to draw closer to God as he draws closer to us. What an opportunity to serve the people in our neighborhood in some very creative ways.
And the greatest RE word of this week is . . . RESURRECT. God is the author of redeeming, restoring, reviving, and resurrecting what once was dead. Take a long look at the empty tomb. See the graveclothes of Jesus folded and in the corner of the tomb that could not hold him.
Signs of New Life
I’m sure like me you have noticed many families out walking, biking, doing chalk art on the driveway, playing in the creek, and playing ball together. Marriages in which spouses weren’t communicating with each other have a chance right now to hit the reset button. Strained family relationships between parents and teenagers have a chance to hit that reset button. Kids who haven’t been told by their parents often enough “I love you” have a chance to hear that more frequently these days. Dads who haven’t been around enough to pray with their children and tuck them into bed at night can hit that reset button now. What a gift.
My wife and I have taken a few short excursions out and about while honoring the 6’ social distancing rule, to enjoy the blooming cherry blossoms, magnolia trees, azaleas, and many other signs of new life this spring. Before Spring Grove Cemetery was closed to visitors this week, Karen and I ventured there to be reminded of how God brings new life even to a place populated with death. While there, we saw a beautiful monument to a man named Patrick F. DeCastro, a “loving husband, father, and grandfather”; born July 22, 1934, died Christmas Eve, December 24, 2013. He must have been a man of material wealth because there is a beautiful marble gazebo erected in his memory. Inscribed inside the dome of that memorial are these words:
“Each today, well-lived, makes yesterday a dream of happiness and each tomorrow a vision of hope. Look, therefore, to this one day, for it alone is life.”
People used to say it takes a minimum of 21 days to make or break a habit. More current research says that it actually takes an average of 66 days to form a habit, for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to gel, whether that be eating healthier for lunch every day, running or walking for a half hour or more a day, or reading some verses from the Bible every day. The great news is that this is our opportunity for breaking the bad habits we don’t like about ourselves and forming the good habits we aspire to. But it doesn’t happen in just three weeks or 66 days by looking up at the lofty goal as if we’re climbing a mountain. It happens by taking one step at a time, asking God for help in accomplishing those goals every day. We have no idea when life will get back to “normal”—whatever we mean by “normal”—and we don’t even want to go back to what was some of our “normal.” But we can concentrate on TODAY, as the memorial inscription from Mr. DeCastro reminds us.
When COVID-19 took center stage in our neck of the woods in Cincinnati about a month ago, I mentioned to my family that I have three specific things I am praying for:
- That this will be a time of great unifying for our country and our world. (Cue “We Are the World.”)
- That families will get back to what they’re called to be—the growing, nurturing, stabilizing influence in our society. The prophet Malachi spoke about the forerunner to Jesus, John the Baptist, that his preaching would “turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6, NLT). That is still my prayer.
- That God will use this time to bring about a great spiritual awakening in our nation and in our world. It’s worth reading this piece from the Wall Street Journal.
I am still praying these three prayers.
A New Day
Have you heard about this boy who did something during this shutdown to show love to a hero of his? Some children were given an assignment in which they were to write a letter to someone whom they considered to be a hero. One little seven-year-old boy wrote a thank-you letter and met his waste management driver at the end of his driveway. He taped his letter to a pole and then lifted it up to the driver’s window. The waste management worker was interviewed about the incident, and he said through tears that this little boy’s gesture made his day, his week, and his year! I dare say that garbage collectors don’t typically receive that kind of appreciation.
What you do TODAY can have a huge impact, even an eternal impact, on someone else’s life. Everyone has a story. What story is God writing in your life during this season of opportunity? God gives us all second and third and fourth . . . and numerous chances to hit the Reset button. New life is springing up all around. The resurrection of Jesus from the grave is what empowers us to tackle those things God is calling us to renew. May his Holy Spirit breathe fresh wind into you today!