This is for my student (or thereabouts) Christian friends. I limit myself to five things because if you know how much I love staying at home even before COVID-19, you’ll worry this post will go on forever…
I know I know. You’re not surprised this one comes up first. I wasn’t going to surprise you. When the prospect of lockdown in the UK was just a rumour, my first concern was, will Royal Mail, DPD and Amazon still deliver books. Fortunately, they are even today as I type. Thank you!
For sci-fi, try The Three-Body Problem trilogy – hard sci-fi, mixed in with some Chinese culture. For fantasy (modern and urban, no cauldrons or robes), try Rivers of London. For historical drama (English), try Wolf Hall. For non-fiction, try Adorning the Dark if you’re a Christian in the creative industry (especially music); or try The Shepherd’s Life if you love the Lake District (Jonathan Pryke loved this enough to quote it in his sermon); Walking Home if you crave long-distance walks but cannot go at the moment obviously, or Wild for an American version of it. Or maybe don’t, they could just make the craving worse. For children’s stories, please make sure you read The Chronicles of Narnia, especially, The Silver Chair, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Horse and His Boy. Oh just read all of them.
In other news, 10ofthose is hit hard because of the cancellation of Word Alive. If you’d like to support them, please buy books via their website. If you’d like some Christian book recommendations, you can find my opinions offered under the Reading > Christian Literature tab on top of this blog page. If you’d like to support 10ofthose but are not sure which books to buy, you can’t go wrong with the Scripture Journals, now available in both ESV and NIV. These are Bible books printed individually with blank spaces for notes, which are perfect for the next thing to do at home…
Study the Scripture
I don’t know on the greater scheme of things why this surreal episode of history is happening in front of our eyes and how God is going to work his good purpose out. But I do feel like individually, it’s up to each person to make the best use of this time, one day at a time. Moses said, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90.12) Paul said, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5.15-17) Without going into a full-scale Bible study, it seems to me that how we manage our time is a wisdom issue, and that wisdom comes from understanding the will of God. You might be missing a considerable chunk of education at the moment but wouldn’t it be great if at the end of it we can say that we haven’t wasted the time and we know God better?
So how about picking a book of the Bible that you’ve never studied before and get on with it? I’m studying the book of Revelation at the moment. Yes going beyond chapter 3 and going all the way to the end. Angels, beasts, over-dressed pregnant woman – the whole lot! As chapter one promised, I feel incredibly blessed by reading and understanding what’s happening in the heavenly Throne Room and in the invisible spiritual realm. It’s not scary. No sorry, it IS a bit scary – Revelation shows me the reality that my eyes can’t see, and the reality is worse than what my eyes can see. But Revelation also shows me that it’s going to be OK. The eternal reality (invisible) puts every trouble (visible) into perspective so I can take courage and say ‘come Lord Jesus come!’
Which book are you going to start reading?
Creative Output Online
For me this means writing. That’s why the frequency of my blog posts have doubled over the last two weeks. Keep a journal. Write poems. But you don’t have to write, there are many other ways to express your creativity and be in your ‘element’. I’ve seen superb examples of Mr Craig Bryant ‘whacking a few thoughts’ at people with the full gospel message in a video on Facebook (watch here) as well as live streaming himself on Instagram Story watching a Sunday service in his room self-isolating. There’s also the talented Jonathan Sunarja doing a cover of ‘I Know Who Holds Tomorrow’ with beautiful music, singing and video on YouTube (listen here). When the online community is gripped by fear and anxiety, let’s together flood it with hope.
Learning Something New, Something You Always Wanted to Learn
For me it’s drawing and playing the piano. Every time I want to be humbled by my inability to do something, I draw. And it’s good for my soul to be humbled!
For learning online, I recommend Skillshare. Not sponsored at all. Just genuinely think it’s a good platform with some decent courses. You can browse and watch trailers for courses without paying anything to get an idea of the range of classes and the quality of production. I’ve done quite a few courses in creative writing, illustration and online marketing. You can get a premium membership for free to watch full classes for two months. This would be a good time!
Make Your Home Nice
My opinion is that since you’ll spend a lot of time in this confined space, it’s more bearable if the space is pleasant. Tidy a small space one day at a time, for example, kitchen cupboards one door per day, the shoe cabinet, the sock drawer, the coffee table in the living room, hallway etc. Some of you are in a shared flat or house so it’s a bit more difficult if you have a messy flatmate or things are shared. But have a go. But one warning, do not ever throw things away if they belong to someone else! (My ‘housemate’ has to guard his bookcase valiantly for me to not lay my eyes or hands on his books again – for now.) (My housemate says ‘do DIY’ in the background.)
Here are five. There are many more ideas but some are less practical, some are less universally applicable. For example, gardening is great, even just on a window sill. Cooking and baking are great. But when an ingredient is in shortage, it makes me anxious (anyone managed to find eggs recently?!). Also we don’t want to be too creative with cooking and baking at the moment because we don’t want to waste food. Do craft. I’m a bit obsessed about not wasting time so when I watch videos that are generally a waste of time, I do crochet while watching to feel less guilty about it… If you have a sewing machine, make some summer dresses (just in case summer comes and in case we’re out of ‘prison’ by then). Do exercise on the floor (I have nothing to offer on this topic, sorry). Do one-to-ones on Zoom. Have dinner with friends on Zoom.
Cover photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash.