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Stepping Out Whilst Locked Down

By Joel Leakey | 12 February 2021

What has the latest round of lockdowns provoked in you? Most of us are feeling loss to some degree, but, if you’re anything like me, you’re also waking up feeling more aware of your own personal frustrations, starting the day with a touch of resentment at the same old scenery, and finishing your day feeling the horizons of your life drawing closer in: just my own walls, my people, my three meals, my bed.


For those of us who are following Jesus, that pull inwards will sit wrongly for another reason: we know we’ve been called to live lives bigger than ourselves, with no ‘off days’ for sacrificial kindness, and a call from our Saviour to tell his story to people around us.


So how do we live bigger than ourselves when we’ve been told to stay at home by ourselves?


How do we step into sacrificial generosity and telling others the story of Jesus with signs and wonders following… with no one around?


I love the story of Valentine – the man himself, not the day. However historical the stories, the records of his life are surprisingly rich in application today. One story records him imprisoned in the home of a noble, miraculously healing his captor’s blind daughter, then as he continued captive in that house, he led them and their entire household to follow Jesus.


Valentine’s bubble was a place of radical kingdom expansion! And his life really was marked by captivity and restriction all the way to the end – another story records Valentine still imprisoned and taken to the emperor, who, despite taking a liking to Valentine, refused his attempts to lead him to faith, and had him executed.


Our captivity is pretty different from Valentine’s – but what a gift of a story. Stuck indoors with the same few faces, he refused to turn introspective, and instead took the approach Peter, Jesus, and many more took hundreds of years before: led by people to a place he didn’t want to go, he lived for their sake, not his own. He had plenty of excuses: he didn’t see many people, he had few chances to live out the great commission, no opportunities to take big risks in faith. But his little risk went a long way.


Right now we can’t turn our lives outwards to bring life to huge crowds of people – what we can do is take Valentine’s example and start with the few faces we can see, the people we do have in our bubbles.


Just a couple of weeks ago, one woman I know had coffee with her mum, who was nearly 80. As she sat with her, she knew that though her mum had spent years in a church, nominally following along with the culture of religion, she had never understood or responded to the gospel. She realised now was the time to take the risk, and make a direct ask. She boldly shared the gospel with her own mother – who said she’d never heard it like her daughter had just explained, and made a decision in that moment to give her life to Jesus!


Another brave, younger guy I know sat at home over Christmas with his family, and found his mum asking him ‘what God might think’ about the situation she was in, since she ‘knew he heard from God.’ Almost too stunned to respond, he plucked up the courage to share the gospel, aware that his dad and brother were in the same room quietly listening.


I could tell you about a family I know, who make friends everywhere they go because each of their relationships are marked by generosity. During lockdown, the youngest of their kids, not yet a Christian, was so moved by how relentlessly generous the rest of the family were that they said, ‘You guys are all so generous, I’ve decided to start giving my money to a missionary on the other side of the world.’


Who are the faces that you see in your everyday? Those in your bubble, the people you volunteer alongside, the co-workers you talk with, a neighbour or two on your street.


One beautiful thing about this terrible moment in time is that we have the chance to re-examine some ways we’ve lived and try again. In lockdown, it’s easy to feel our own limits. Maybe we’ve longed to live a bigger life, marked by bolder steps of faith, or by sacrificial generosity that goes beyond gestures. We might be feeling God’s invitation to live more bravely and obviously for Him, with what comes out of our wallet or what comes out of our mouth.


There is nothing stopping you or I from taking this lockdown as a chance to give our biggest yes to God. What would it look like if you took this locked-down February as permission? A little risk in your bubble or your neighbourhood could go a long, long way.


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Posted by Joel Leakey

Joel Leakey is a freelance writer based out of Northern Ireland. You can follow him on Twitter at @joelleakey, but he warns you it's mostly puns.


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