Goals for this COVID-19 Season

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Episode Synopsis

Heidi and Jani share some ways they are facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, with renewed hope in God’s promises for His children.

Audio Transcript

Well, hello, everyone, it’s Jani Ortlund and my friend,

Heidi Howerton.

And we are in our separate places, just almost going stir crazy with, with not being able to be together. But we’re grateful for computers. We’re grateful for Zoom. We’re grateful for the staff that helps us, our editor, and all the different people that enter in and so we’re grateful that we could record again today. We’re praying that this episode will help you as you continue to walk through the strange days, strange, challenging days, we find ourselves in.

Goals For This COVID-19 Season

Heidi had a good idea about what we could talk about today. Heidi, share with our listeners what you were sharing with me recently.

I guess I’ll just go into it. Something that I’ve been thinking about, Jani, as we’re in the middle of this pandemic, is what do I want to be able to say about this season when the pandemic comes to a close? What do I want my children to say about this season? What memories do I want them to have over these next few weeks or months during the pandemic? And how will we get there? Jani, I feel in some ways, like this time is such a gift. It’s a “both/and”. It’s horrible and heartbreaking and sad. And it’s also a very unique time where, for right now, this week, my family is all home together. And I want to be able to use this time, as you said, to bring a smile to the Lord’s face. What can I do with the days and the hours that we have in this very unique season that by God’s grace, we will never experience again? How do I steward this season well? And your discipleship teaching, Jani, has come to mind that you’ve shared about setting long term goals and short term goals. And I thought this would be a really good season, to set some personal goals for myself and some goals for my family and my children as we kind of go through this pandemic not knowing how long it will last. I want to have the outcome in sight when we get to the end, what do I want to be able to say about the time in the middle?

Digging Out The Good Things From This Time

Oh, that’s so good, Heidi. Yeah, we really do want to, in a sense, dig out the good things from this. Because even though the virus is evil, it’s because of sin. It’s dark, it brings death, it’s evil, God can use it for good. And so he’s allowed this virus for many reasons, I believe one of them like you is, is to change us in visible and measurable ways. I’m asking myself as you are, how will I be different? When I get to leave my home, when we’re on the other side of this pandemic, how will I have been changed? What new habits will I have formed, that I want to keep? And what old habits that I’ve dropped during this time of isolation and social distancing do I want to never pick up again?

As you and I talked about in our last episode, Heidi, we were asking our listeners some questions. Like, how can you thrive and not just survive during this time? What memories do you want to carry with you? As you’ve mentioned, Heidi, you want to build special family memories. So your family can look back and say, “Oh, Mom, remember when we all work together for those weeks?”

Another question we want to ask ourselves is this: how will we use the good that God has redeemed out of this evil sickness? How will we be able to praise him, even in the midst of the darkness? Praise that we wouldn’t have had if we hadn’t gone through this hard time.

So I want to encourage you to think about what your life will look like in three months. What will it look like in six months? What should remain the same? What should change? Where do you suspect God wants you to go in your life as you come out of this? At the end of your life, what do you want to look back on during this time period? What would really satisfy you? What would make you say, “Oh, Lord, that was hard, but it was really worth it and I thank you and praise you.”

Setting Goals: It’s Biblical

Well, one of the ways that can help you is if you set some goals for this time. Don’t just spin your wheels and get angry and sulk.

Don’t do what I’ve done and just read the news every hour of every day. It does not lead to anything fair. Oh, let me tell you firsthand!

Oh, I understand. My goodness. Yes. You know, when we talk about goals, that’s not something new. That’s very biblical. Jesus had a goal. Heidi, will you read Luke 19:10, for us?

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the last.”

Luke 19:10

Mmm. He came for a reason to seek and to save. He had a goal. Paul had a goal too. He states his goal in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. He says this,

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it? Every athlete exercises self control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly. I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control lest after preaching to others, I myself should be disqualified.”

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

What was Paul’s goal? To run the race! And that can be our goal. We don’t want to be women who are just limping through this time, moaning, groaning, complaining. We want to be women who say, “Okay, Lord, you have allowed this now help me. Help me to see your purpose in it. Help me to see why you’ve let me live at this time. Someday I’m going to be telling my grandchildren about living through the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to look back and be able to tell them what you did in it.”

You see, we don’t want to just walk along drifting along spinning our wheels, as the Apostle Paul says, “beating the air”. We’re Daughters of the King of the universe. Isaiah 32:8 puts it this way,

“But he who is noble plans noble things and on noble things he stands.”

Isaiah 32:8

What noble things do you want to stand on these weeks? I like how John Piper puts it in his book called A Godward Heart. He says this,

“What examination and experience teaches us is that the unplanned life settles into fruitless routine. The drifting life. The coasting, “que sera, sera”, unreflective life tends to be a wasted life.”

Now, I would change that, if Pastor John would let me, and put it this way.

What examination and experience teach us is that the unplanned weeks settle into fruitless routine, the drifting weeks, the coasting weeks, the “Que Sera, Sera”, unreflective weeks tend to be wasted weeks.

Let’s not waste these weeks. Let’s use them for him. King Solomon gives us great advice on making plans. Heidi, will you read Proverbs 4:26-27?

“Ponder the path of your feet, then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left. Turn your foot away from evil.”

Proverbs 4:26-27

Wow. Maybe we could even think of turn your hand away from evil. Are you going to your phone too much? I love also how King Solomon talks to us in Proverbs 21:5, and he says this,

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance.”

Proverbs 21:5

I’m sure that can mean economic abundance, but I also think it can mean emotional abundance, relational abundance. What plans are you making for relational and emotional abundance during these hard days of isolation? Maybe for those of you are having to go to work you might not feel so isolated, but there might be great fears. What plans are you making that will help you in this?

Trying To Discern What Is Pleasing To The Lord

We’ve mentioned before the verse from Ephesians 5:10, where Paul says, “trying to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” What Heidi and I are asking of you today is that you would take that verse to heart, and you would try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord for your life. In this time, whether you be isolated at home, whether you be quarantined, because you’re ill, whether you be serving as some of the first responders or as medical personnel, or selling groceries or helping a neighbor. Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Set some goals so you can look back on this time, with joy, and with praise to the God who got you through it. Always ask, what is God’s will for me in this? Why has he brought me into this situation? This particular situation? What is my particular goal during these weeks? And of course, we always have to plan with a big umbrella over us saying, if God wills it, we can make plans, and then our plans get swept out from under us. But at least let’s try. Psalm 138:8 puts it this way.

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.”

Psalm 138:8

He will fulfill it for you too, dear listener. Heidi, will you read Proverbs 16:9 for our listeners, Proverbs 16:9,

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

I love that, Jani. It’s a “both/and”. We’re called to plan and the Lord establishes our steps.

Yes, I love that too. It is that wonderful paradox of us and him. It’s not all him. It’s not all us. In a way it’s all him. In a way it’s all us. We’re all mixed up in there together. I love how the Lord gives us that kind of life to live.

This is a verse I’m camping on these days Job 23:14. As I think through my goals during the COVID-19 season. Job 23:14 puts it this way,

“For he will complete what he appoints for me and many such things are in his mind.”

Job 23:14

Oh, I love that. He will complete the good work that he’s begun in each one of us. Let’s take heart, dear sister, in that. Wherever you are, whatever he’s calling you to do during this hard season. Heidi and I are praying that you will be able to set some goals, to be able to look back on the season with joy and not regret with praise for how God saw you through and with new motivation for some new ways you might want to live out into your future.

Practical Ways To Set Goals

Heidi, you’ve thought this through a bit. Would you share with our listeners some of the practical ways that you’ve thought this through?

Yes, before I write my goals, Jani, it’s just helpful for me to think about some big question. So I wrote down on a piece of paper some big headings such as: What books do we want to read? What books do we want to read as a family? What are special family memories we can make? What devotions do we want to do? What life skills do we want to teach? Routines to keep? Family sports to play? Scripture to memorize?

Some of Heidi’s Goals

So I wrote down just some big ideas to help get my brainstorming going. And then just to share a few of what these personal or family goals could look like, here are some of mine.

I want to run or do a workout video three times a week. I’ve noticed as we’re home, my tendency is to eat more and to not exercise and the Lord has convicted me of that I don’t want to just gain 20 pounds during the season because I’m anxious.

Another one I have is enjoy just one treat a day. Instead of, you know, so to look forward to that and to say I can have that but it’s just one.

I want to study one Psalm every day and spend 10 minutes praying.

And even to limit my phone time to 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the afternoon and 15 minutes at night.

Some Family Goals

And some family goals that we have. I wrote down to enjoy one special family activity two times a week such as family Nerf gun fights, a board game night, Hide and Seek in the dark, running in the sprinkler. Take a walk together once a day. Do one to two hours of organized school a day. Help my children exercise once a day. And daily remind each child and Mike how thankful I am that I get this special time with them and that we get to be together.

So that’s just, it’s helpful for me, I need to brainstorm in big ways, and then kind of narrow it down. So that in that moment when we have time to do something, I’m not thinking, what do we do? But I can look at my list and say, “Oh, what books did I want to read with my kids during this time? Let’s get out one of those books.”

That’s great. That’s so helpful to have the practical suggestions. Heidi, thank you. Thank you so much.

A Prayer For The Lord To Restore Your Soul

Well, let’s bring our episode to a close today, we want to pray over our listeners, one of Paul’s prayers for the Thessalonians and I’ll just pray this over you all asking the Lord to restore your soul in the midst of this hard time. This prayer is from 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12.

“To this end, we always pray for you that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.”

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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