My friend and New York City Police officer, Sergeant Carlos Martinez, contracted the COVID-19 virus while on the job. Thankfully, he is on the road to recovery. Still, there was an initial concern for his health and a curiosity for how he would use his time while quarantined in his daughter’s pink bedroom, particularly since she had already removed her Barbie townhouse—the one with an elevator.
Two months earlier, Carlos joined three other friends in a year-long disciple-making group. It covers a full range of topics to grow him theologically and form his faith, but it also has a Bible memory verse for each of the 25 chapters—no small task.
Carlos mentioned he would try to use his time memorizing some verses. We didn’t know how realistic it was considering his fever, body aches, and the lure of his daughter’s Barbie convertible and ambulance she left behind.
I checked-in three days after his positive testing. After hearing promising news on his physical and mental condition, I asked how he was doing with his Bible memorization. My wife Janine gave me the “how could you?” look. I returned the “sick or not, let’s see what he’s got” look. And Carlos’s reply? “I’ve been working on Psalm 46.”
“That’s awesome!” I shot back. Psalm 46 is one of my favorite passages of scripture. Verse 1 is my “go-to” when put on the spot to share my favorite verse. Verse 10 isn’t far behind. After an appropriate pause, I said, “Let’s hear what you got.”
Carlos flawlessly rattled off verse 1. I was about to shout a verbal high-5 when he continued to verse 2. Surprised, I gave Janine an “I’m impressed” head-nod, which became an “Oh my!” mouth agape expression when he turned the corner into verse 3.
This time he paused to breathe, and I was getting ready to explode with a “Wow!” you would’ve heard regardless of your geography, but Carlos cut me off…with verse 4. At this point, I looked at Janine with my quizzical “he didn’t memorize the entire Psalm, did he?” look. And three verses later, my expression of curiosity turned to the triumphant “he’s gonna do it!” head nod.
Now is the opportunity for “rational you” to tame “binge you” and set some media boundaries.
Finally, after Carlos recited all eleven verses, I was exhausted. I was shaking my head in disbelief and was so impressed I had no words to share. I was locked-and-loaded with my “Wow!” after verse one and prepared additional praises to rapid-fire as he went along. But by the time he hit verse eight, I didn’t know what to say except “wow” with a lowercase “w” and no exclamation point. This “wow” was nowhere near explosive, but it was packed with admiration and inspiration for Carlos’ commitment and determination.
The Key Question
Last week, I challenged pastors and church leaders to strategically use our national quarantine for good by responding to the question, six months from now, what do you want to say your church has accomplished?
Today I ask the same for all of us. We don’t know how long we will be “physical distancing” (we need to keep being social—just from a length of six feet or more), but let’s imagine it’s six months. Don’t waste time.
I’m all for enjoying a media binge from time-to-time, but not for six months. Now is the opportunity for “rational you” to tame “binge you” and set some media boundaries.
Select at least three of the following:
- What is one hobby you’ve always wanted to learn or further develop?
- What is one skill you can learn to help in this unique season? (Anyone in your home need a haircut?)
- What is a language you can begin to learn or brush up on?
- What is a classic book you’ve always wanted to read (or listen to)?
- What’s a spiritual growth book you can read (or listen to) or a disciple-making book to encourage or inspire you? (Terrific compilation here.)
- Who are some family members you’ve wanted to talk to or write?
- Who are some friends you want to catch up with?
- What are some ways to serve and encourage those you’re living with? (Maybe these ideas will get you started.)
- What is a cleaning project or repair that hangs over your head?
- What is a Bible reading goal you can tackle? (Download my Bottom Line Bible app)
- What is a Bible study you’ve wanted to do or Bible questions you’ve wanted to research? (RightNow Media is the Netflix of Bible study. Your church may offer a free subscription. Got Questions is a great site.)
- What are some Bible verses you can memorize? (Email me if you want the list from Discipleship Essentials.)
- What’s a course you can take? (30 day free trial of numerous disciple-making courses here)
- What are some recipes you’ve wanted to try?
- What are some exercises you can do because of the recipes you tried?
You want to know what’s most impressive about Sergeant Martinez’ memorization of Psalm 46? It’s not even on the list of required verses in his disciple-making group. I’m sure he knew, but if he didn’t, I didn’t have the heart to tell him. I was just proud of him and inspired by his dedication.
Let’s use our time wisely, starting with praying for all our medical professionals and hospital workers, along with all other professions required to interact with the public. May we grow closer to God and one another, and may God be glorified today and always.
QUESTION (leave a comment below)
Six months from now, what do you want to say you’ve accomplished?