On Monday my daughter will turn sixteen—a milestone when, to use her words, she will become ‘old enough that I’m not just an annoying teenager anymore’.
She had plans to spend time with friends, to sleepover at the Zoo and to book the test to get her car learner permit. Plans that have all been shelved for the foreseeable future, along with her plans for doing work experience, going on a mission trip to Thailand and a multitude of other things. Instead, for her sixteenth birthday she will go to school remotely, talk with her friends online and eat her way through a birthday cake that is far too big for just the four of us to finish in one day.
If I think for too long about the opportunities that both of my daughters have lost due to the COVID-19 restrictions, I become so sad that it begins to physically hurt. But then I take encouragement from what my almost-sixteen-year-old daughter said at the time that events starting slipping away from her.
‘So I guess this is not in God’s plan for me.’
When crisis strikes she defaults to faith. To a belief that there is something bigger at hand than any plans we make for ourselves. That nothing in the future can really be lost if it was never in God’s plan for us in the first place.
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are ‘God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ And sometimes those good works are not the things that we have on our To Do List or our calendar. Sometimes, when the future is uncertain, we can only discover the good works prepared for us in advance on a day-to-day basis.
It helps to remember that God doesn’t need us to leave our homes to find his peace and ways to reach out to others. He doesn’t need the economy to be open to fill us with his love and direct us along his path. God promises us in the book of Romans that that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation – including a virus of pandemic proportions – will be able to separate us from his love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I’m looking forward to my daughter’s sixteenth birthday on Monday. Because Stage 3 restrictions won’t stop our Father from being in our hearts and our home as we celebrate the life of his child together.