In the latest easing of lockdown restrictions, the Government has advised that anyone living along may form a social “bubble” with another household, in the hope that this will help alleviate the isolation that has been experienced by so many during these last weeks. For some this is great news but for others it actually causes a real dilemma.
If you are that person living alone who do you choose to form a bubble with? Or do you wait to be chosen – which brings back memories of waiting to be chosen for the football/netball/insert sport fo your choice team and knowing that the chances of this happening were unlikely.
If you have adult children which do you choose? The one living nearest? The one who has your grandchildren living with them? What about if you have both adult children and aged parents? Your mum might expect you to choose her but your son may be hoping you will choose him!
And for others there are no choices at all because there is no one close enough, either in physical distance or emotional intimacy, with whom a bubble can be formed.
It reminds me of a book I read when I much younger. Sophie’s Choice ( which was also made into a film) documented the horrific choice a young mother was forced to make about which of her children would survive the Holocaust. An unimaginable decision and while the implications of choosing which household to form a bubble with doesn’t have the same horrific outcome, the “wrong” choice could cause years of pain and estrangement.
That is one of the wonderful things about God. He doesn’t ask us to choose Him over any other because He has already done the choosing. The prophet Isaiah reminds us of this as he writes “I have called you, you are mine” (Ch 43 :1) God doesn’t call us based on our proximity to Him or the closeness of our relationship because there is no hierarchy in God’s family and there is no physical distance between us. God is with us at all times. He rejoices with us, He weeps with us, He is always available to us, wherever we are, at whatever time of day we need Him.
One of the most distressing aspects of this lockdown period has been the separation from loved ones. Even with the ability to meet up in a socially distanced way, it is still hard not to be able to hug those we love, not to be able to do all the things that until recently we took for granted.
This separation from those that we love has for some extended into our relationship with God. Not being able to come to our church buildings to pray and worship has been a source of real sorrow for many. Somehow virtual worship just doesn’t cut it! Some people have found it difficult to pray, have felt isolated not just from their church community but from God Himself. As we move towards a time when we are once more able to enter our sacred spaces in order to spend time in private prayer we may find ourselves having to rebuild that relationship just as in the same way we will have to rebuild relationships with those of families and friends from who we have been separated.
But at the heart of this rebuilding we need to hold those words from Isaiah close
“ I have called you, you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze……do not be afraid for I am with you”