What kinds of questions have you been googling over the last few weeks? "How many people are infected in my area?" "How will this affect the economy?" "How will this affect our government and elections?" "How will this affect my family?" In all of these questions, there is one that affects us more directly, one we have to answer every day. "What am I actually going to do today?"
For me (Riley), the answer to that question has involved a few things. 1) I'm adding a room to my in-laws basement while we quarantine with them. 2) I'm doing a deep-dive study into the book of Romans. 3) I'm playing a ton of Settlers of Catan. God has used each of those things to expose my sin and push me toward His Son. Let me tell you how He did it.
I was in the basement by myself framing a wall with my thoughts wandering from topic to topic when I began to think about one of our games of Catan from the night before. Specifically, I was thinking about one game in particular when I became frustrated with my opponents and my frustration over someone blocking my "Longest Road" exposed just how very much unlike Jesus I am in my heart. As my thoughts continued to wander, I began to think that I should probably apologize to the people I had sinned against. After all, my relationship with them was worth far more than the two points my road would have given me.
But my sinful heart does not naturally humble itself and admit to being wrong. So as my thoughts continued to wander, I began to convince myself that what I did really did not merit an apology. After all, doesn't everyone get frustrated in Catan? It was just a heated competition, that was all. Then a verse came to my mind from my time in Romans over the last couple of weeks.
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."
There are a ton of blessings that we have because we are in Christ. Here are some that we commonly think of from a few chapters earlier. We're justified. We have peace with God. We have access to God's grace. We have a joyful hope for the future. Those are probably the first blessings that come to my mind when I think about all that I have in Christ. But that afternoon in the basement, I was thinking about this one: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."
As I debated in my mind about whether or not I should apologize, I came to the sudden realization that this was not simply, "should I apologize for an everyday offense." This was actually a battle between my flesh and the Spirit. God has given me the precious gift of His Spirit, and one of the reasons He gave me His Spirit is so that He could lead me toward greater Christlikeness . Without His Spirit, I would be a total slave to my flesh. Simply the fact that there was a battle in my heart was evidence of God's grace in my life. How could I choose to walk in the flesh and choose my sin with God's gracious gift of the Spirit working in real time in my heart?
At the core, I knew my offense wasn't just ordinary, everyday competitiveness. I knew I had chosen to put another believer down because they had the audacity to make a good move against me. In the middle of this, God was working through His Spirit to convict me of sin and to conform me into the image of His Son.
So believers, be encouraged! God is at work in your hearts - even in quarantine. He used a simple game, some down time with a hammer and nails, and His Word to teach me how wonderful His gracious gifts to me are and just how much I need them.
How is God's grace at work in your heart during your time on quarantine?