In the north where I grew up, winter was an extended season, frequently blowing and snowing well in advance of its December 21 admissible date and over-staying its dubious welcome equally far past the mandated March 21 expiration date. The cumulative effect of this bloated quarter of the year was what we called ‘cabin fever,’ with symptoms like short tempers, Vitamin D deficiency, a gnawing desperation born of too many long, freezing nights, aborted road trips due to blizzard-like conditions, cancelled local plans, and an ‘allergic’ reaction to loved ones with whom one as cooped up (I know. I know. This all sounds strikingly familiar to our current context.) In recognition of this seasonal unpleasantry here in Virginia, where the effects are definitely milder than those I’ve known, there have been a series of ‘Cabin Fever Concerts’ sponsored the Arts Commission in Yorktown. For drearily obvious reasons, they, too, have been cancelled of late. Yet another symptom of this annual onslaught is ‘antsiness’ to get out, to travel, to change venue, to go just about anywhere ‘other than here.’ There are many predictions of an explosion of road and air travel as soon as restrictions ease. Families eager to reunite for hug fests, long-postponed celebrations to attend, sad get togethers to grieve collectively for lost loved ones; these, plus the clipped wings of those with wanderlust at long last able to explore beyond city limits.
In a spiritual sense, the curtailing of worship services and prayer gatherings and outreach activities, the inability to visit missionaries and mission fields, the small group gatherings that have been reduced to pixels on a screen, all combine to distill desires into more potent desires. I see God at work in all this (getting mileage) building in us a previously-unfelt sense of urgency to be about His work. Events and media keep us laser-focused on the dysfunction of society, the unhealed trauma of the past, the growing disregard (disrespect? dismissal?) of all things Biblical, while leveling accusations at God and his church for their very existence. Maintaining Kingdom perspective in the maelstrom is daunting. Keeping Jesus front and center in our hearts and in our souls is challenged daily. At least part of the new normal is feeling disjointed as an ambassador of Jesus. Faith needs bolstering. Prayer needs refreshing. Community needs unity. I guess what I’m saying is that Emmanuel is here. We are not in a twilight zone. Daily provision is abundantly available. Encouragement continues to be a powerful give-away yielding fantastic returns. Here’s Paul’s to us: “And don’t allow yourselves to be weary in planting good seeds, for the season of reaping the wonderful harvest you’ve planted is coming! Take advantage of every opportunity to be a blessing to others especially to our brothers and sisters in the family of faith!” Galatians 6:9,10 The Passion. There you have it. Ours is a cheerful task, y’all. Off we go! PD