Hi everyone Rob here.
So once again we find ourselves in a level 4 lockdown as the Delta variant of Covid-19 tries to get its tentacles into Aotearoa/New Zealand. It’s an uncertain time and with uncertainty there comes the almost irresistible temptation to speculate about the future, about what may have gone wrong in the past and about what the authorities and others should be doing in the present.
Speculation can help you get in touch with your worries and gears, help you get a few things off your chest and help you feel like things aren’t totally out of control. However, speculation can also make you judgmental, fearful and fear-mongering, and, most seriously, out of touch with reality. Speculation becomes dangerous when we claim certainty for our theories and beliefs when no such certainty is possible. No one in the general populace knows enough facts to be certain about much when it comes to this virus and how it will play out.
Instead of speculation I suggest that we adopt a lesson from video games and the All Blacks! My teenage son enjoys a game on his phone called Brawl Stars. I know nothing about the game except that it involves being responsive to the situations unfolding before you. In the same way the All Blacks, our national rugby team, have a saying:
Play what’s in front of you.
This doesn’t mean they don’t have plans or set moves. They most certainly do and they work hard to do those to a high standard. It does mean that if and when those plans are foiled or upset in any way, they don’t panic, and they back themselves to deal with the new reality in front of them. Their training then involves an emphasis on skill, spatial awareness, support play and speed of thought and movement. So what does this have to do with the life of the heart?
Jesus tells us this in Matthew 6:31-34
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
This is the spiritual equivalent of ‘play what’s in front of you.” You can make your plans to provide for your security but those plans can come unstuck very quickly. On our fridge are a number of invites to kids birthday parties. Those plans are now over because of our lockdown measures. It took one day for those plans to come unstuck. Work plans, holiday plans, renovation plans and more have all changed now. They may simply be delayed or they may have to be abandoned altogether. All we really know is today. All we know is what’s immediately in front of us. This requires a different set of skills.
Long-term plans now have to give way to moment by moment trust. In an uncertain world the only way to move forward is to stay close to the shepherd, to follow your rabbi and give yourself over to Jesus your older brother and Lord. “What do you have for me right now Jesus” is a great prayer to pray in lockdown. It at once helps you to be present to the moment and attentive to Jesus. That’s a win-win situation. So for today I have been maths teacher, I have walked with my wife, donned the work hat as I checked emails and sought to do it at a pace that allows me to be attentive to the need in front of me. I need God’s help for that, especially as this lockdown has carried a lot more uncertainty than the one last year.
I pray that God will give you the skills needed to play what’s in front of you and that as you let go of plans you will let God guide you through the day, moment by moment. May he give you grace and peace as you seek him.
Thanks Rob. Love that prayer “what do you have for me right now, Jesus?” and the saying “Play what’s in front of you.” The verse is Matthew 6 is also a beautiful reminder that God is with us and knows our needs. As we contemplate our renovations and keep hearing stories of supply issues and price rises it is reassuring to know we are not alone with the planning and sorting of all that, that Jesus is with us and will help us with solutions.