Living Vertically in a Horizontal World

We’ve found ourselves, unwillingly, in the middle of a medical crisis. A pandemic that has swept the world and dramatically changed our daily lives while creating so much uncertainty about the future. Our once busy lifestyles of commuting to work, shopping at a vast array of retail stores and restaurants, and traveling across the country or the globe, have come to an abrupt halt. And we are suddenly aware of our dependence on these elements, these habits and routines that once occupied our days. Other tragedies and diseases have plagued us in our lifetime, but there has been nothing we have personally experienced that has caused such disruption and uncertainly like the novel coronavirus.

Desperate for “Normal”

This new coronavirus and the disease it causes ¬— COVID-19 —has our undivided attention. We tune to the news throughout our day to understand the latest data and hopefully get a glimpse of a promising treatment plan. We spend much of our days trying to understand when we will get back to business as usual and how to manage our days until we get there. Millions have lost jobs and many more will follow. We pray daily to Father God to protect us during this time, shielding us from the disease, and pray that he uses this crisis to glorify His Kingdom. Yet, each day we continue to grasp for what is normal, longing to know when our lives will get back to the routine we know so well. This is what I like to call horizontal living.

Faith and Hope for the Win

While all this is true and we’re fixated on the issue at hand, we also know our God is faithful, proving time and again that his plan, his narrative of hope and His promise are to be believed. Consider the story of Joseph, a man who experienced one trial and crisis after another. Joseph was not forsaken by our Father, but instead, God used the trials and stories in Joseph’s life to not only shape Joseph, but to fit His larger narrative. It’s also important to remember that Joseph trusted God and focused not on what had been; not on what he had hoped for, but on what his God needed him to do in the present moment.

Shifting our Perspective

Yes, the Coronavirus does have our undivided attention, but this virus passed through the fingers of our sovereign God – so it’s fair to say that God is looking for our undivided attention. He’s shaking us free of our daily routines, our social media, our absorption with work, and all the other things that fill our daily lives.

Hebrews 12:27-29

The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

While we feel out of control, we rejoice in knowing that God IS in control, and His sovereignty covers this pandemic and any other crisis we’ve been through in the past, or will go through in the future. As we focus on this comfort, we are free to shift our gaze from the world around us to the Lord above us and move ourselves into action, rather than focusing on the routine that has slipped from our grasp. And with this comfort, our horizontal view now shifts to one that is vertical. We no longer dwell on the single story we’re living in, but instead gain perspective of God’s greater narrative.

What had been — the days before the Coronavirus — now move to the background, with the understanding that we are free to lean into and onto each other to create the next story, and to help fulfill God’s sovereign plan.

Contributed by Mandy Alegnani

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