by Rick Wertz
Social distancing and self-isolation are terms very few had heard of just a few weeks ago. Now they are daily headlines and constant reminders. The encouragement early on was to practice good hygiene and keep your distance from someone who is sick. That quickly moved to a directive to maintain at least a six-foot distance from other folks. Now, many parts of the country and the world are under mandatory lock-down, self-isolation in a concerted effort to inhibit the contagion.
As a man of faith, I have compared this to situations described in the Old Testament, where the “contagion” for the Israelite people was the influence of foreign people and their worship of idols. Sure enough, they didn’t isolate themselves and “caught” the religious practices of the foreigners, turned away from the faith they had known and trusted, and it led to the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the exile of many people to Babylon.
Then, in 445 BC, the Lord called Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall around the city. The book of Nehemiah says it this way:
Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” … They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. (2:17-18)
Nehemiah was convinced that isolation was a key component to reestablishing Jerusalem as the Holy City. The wall would give them a needed break from the constant in and out of foreign influence. So the Israelites rebuilt the wall, constructed and set the gates and reestablished Jerusalem as the Holy City in 52 days, and the isolation helped them keep foreign influences in check.
As fathers, we can view this time of isolation in a similar way. There are many negative forces that have invaded our homes and threaten our children’s innocence. Maybe we need to use this season of social distancing to build a wall of protection around our families to help us get back to positive habits and reestablish right priorities.
Are there priorities and commitments that you have let slip over time? For example: eating meals together, limiting time on various media, going on walks, dropping a line in the water with the kids, having regular family devotion and discussion times, putting a puzzle together, attending (or lately, streaming) church as a family, having spiritual conversations, praying together, and working together on projects around the house.
Your list might be different from mine, but I hope you’ll give some serious thought to your most important values and priorities, and use this time of isolation to renew or reinforce them. And just as important, when this pandemic is behind us, be diligent about maintaining your wall to its full height and managing the gates well, so unwanted influences don’t sneak in and attack your family or draw them away from what’s most important.
Rick Wertz is founder and president of Faithful Fathering, seeking to engage dads in raising a godly generation. He is an advocate for fathers, a popular speaker at workshops for churches and other organizations, and a certified trainer for NCF. He and Linda, his wife of 39 years, live in Sugar Land, TX, and have two grown children.
This guest blog was adapted from one of Rick’s “Dad Talk” weekly devotionals for dads. Find out more and sign up to receive Dad Talk here.