Article 9: Letters from the desk of a Great-Grandfather
THINGS TO DO IN LOCKDOWN.
How are you keeping yourself occupied during these strange days? If you have kids, there's almost too much to keep you busy. I remember our summer holidays years ago with two young children in a 12 foot caravan and awning for five weeks each summer. Praise God for board games! Official advice has included finding half done things and finishing them off. So far I've found half a bottle of red wine and half a tin of shortbread and I'm still looking. Clear outs and decorating are apparently out and building a model of Durham Cathedral from used matches is beyond me. So what to do? Try these, they really work.
1. Use your phone to encourage people. It helps if you pick your time wisely, but nobody can pretend they're not at home! Our family keep calling us, not to see how we are, but to check that we haven't gone out.! A Barnabas call is very often what some people want, need even. Especially the oldies in family and church. Just a short chat, not half an hour, and talk mainly about them. It's much more useful than sitting at the computer trying for a Tesco slot.
2. Pray for people, with lots of short bursts of prayer. I once set out to be a prayer warrior and sat down to pray for a straight hour. The clock, however, said it only lasted six minutes. But little and often I can manage. As people come into your thoughts, pray for them. Those who aren't well. Those REALLY locked in. Families with many children. Those you know or sense are struggling. If you still can't think of any, just look out the window at your street.
3. Bless people. It really works for us as well as Tim and Jo. It opens doors, lifts spiritual atmosphere, blesses the recipient and blesses us too. Work your way along your street, house by house, family by family. We increased the scope of our blessing some time ago to include a couple at the top of our road. Never spoken to them, but when lockdown began, the lady of the house adopted us and other oldies in her scheme to help us, shop for us, talk to us. Now we often talk-at a distance, of course! Bless Tim and Jo. Bless Boris and the government. If you can go for a walk, stop at some houses and pray blessing on the residents. It's like pushing £20 notes through the letter box!
I understand that St. Francis blessed the birds. I certainly bless my roses. Its especially good to bless people who've hurt you or you can't get on with. As the next step on from forgiveness, it helps them, pleases God and I've found it blesses me too. That's one of the great things about blessing. It comes back to you in some form at some time. Those who give, receive and in good measure. Or so Jesus said. Whether its money or blessing.
Just last week, Ruth was speaking to some old friends of ours, retired Salvation Army officers. They told her of a ring on their doorbell some days earlier. A man was standing in the driveway, someone they'd never seen before. He asked them if they knew their car had a flat tyre. When Carol said, ''No'',he offered to change the wheel for them, which he did. He told them that he was in work the next day, next door to a car repair shop, and offered to take the flat tyre in and get it fixed. He brought it back all mended. And Carol had never seen him before-or since! No idea who he was. But after a lifetime of serving and blessing others, God was returning the favour.
4. Be a blessing in your household. Being shut in with your spouse or family or friends can at times prove a bit stressful. Friction can be present and in those times try to be a blessing. We are called to be a people of compassion and consideration, so prepare a meal when it's not your turn, have a shower and change your socks daily! And if strife arises, try to always have the last word-which is always the same- ''Sorry!''
Keep well. Keep blessing. Keep battling on. Keep your distance!.