Locked down? Take time for the 3 most important questions. Posted on May 7, 2020May 11, 2020 by Dave Fenton As an actively retired person in lockdown you are at risk. Not from the virus but from something hazardous in another way. It’s the danger of doing no more than replacing one set of activities with another. For example, many cupboards are now tidier and gardens looking lovelier than they have ever been. For my part, my garage door has been transformed from dirty grey to pristine white. But, in all this, there’s the risk of simply filling our lockdown with things that keep us busy and our minds from thinking too deeply. What if we have been given a massive opportunity to pause and reflect? To ask ourselves – What is God saying in the midst of all this upheaval and absence of ‘normal’? There seems to be no shortage of people telling us what they think God is saying to nations and his Church. That this is his judgement on a world that’s rejected him. That this is God’s last statement before Jesus returns. And more. But we can never be sure we know the complete answer to any of them? Even then, what God may be saying to one culture could be very different to what he’s saying elsewhere. More than that, speculating around these big questions can mean we avoid the one question we can address. It’s ‘What is God saying TO ME? Indeed, in this season of my active retirement have I ever given God a chance to speak to ME about ME? Have I ever taken time in a quiet place – like Jesus – to reflect on what God might want me to hear? To do this means creating space – sometimes hard but worth doing. Starting by waiting on God and finding it helpful to read a Psalm or other portion of scripture. I’m not talking about a long period of introspection and self-criticism. That can be good but should be brief. Rather I suggest such a time should lead to facing these 3 important questions. 1. How is my relationship with God? Be realistic about the direction you are travelling with him, your sense of him being with you and lining up your life with what you understand of his intentions for you. Start from a position of believing God wants to speak to you – because he does. And that, because he is God and you are not, he has the authority to speak about you and to you. Treat it as a privilege which busyness may have shut off. ‘Be still and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46.10) may never have had such significance. Ask God for answers as to what could be done to make your relationship richer and even more valuable. And make a commitment to do them. 2. Who is my first date? This is not an invitation to hit the town. But busyness can mean we flit from one person to another without spending meaningful time with anyone. As you listened to God, see if one name crops up. Someone you could develop a deep and lasting relationship with. If so – and I hope so – this is your first date after lockdown. Or your next Zoom meeting – something as a low-order techie I’ve found surprisingly easy to use. Your first date could involve you in establishing a mentoring or encouraging relationship. Or offer time and attention to someone you know to be lonely. Whoever it is, make a date with one person and follow it through. 3. What’s your next project? If you have not said it yourself you are likely to have heard if from one of your actively retired friends – ‘I’ve never been busier’ or ‘I’m busier than when I was working full time’. It’s often spoken with great pride. At times even as if it’s an indication of living exactly the way God intends. But is this the time to take stock? To step back from drivenness? Take time to bring before God everything you do (bit by bit) and ask God to speak to you about that activity. Should it stay or should it go? Does it need either pruning or developing? Is there one activity that should become more of a focus than the rest? Is it time to move on from the ‘I’m indispensable’ mode and do some pruning? These times are giving us an all too rare opportunity to stop, think, and engage with the God who made us and loves us – to take stock and re-evaluate. Please don’t miss it. Do you have another question that seems important? Please share it using the links below. And feel free to have your say either here or on our Facebook page. Dave Fenton Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.