I remember a godly older man repeating that mantra to me again and again and again. He used it of any time a couple was separated by distance, encouraging us to work hard at and invest in a long distance relationship so there was something good and healthy and enduring after the period of separation was over. He used it to talk of marriage with children, exhorting us that what we invested in our marriage while we had kids would be what we had to build on once the children left home. In fact he applied that idea to most things.
And I’ve been thinking about it this week in regards to lockdown and non-mingling church as we’ve had it for the last few months. Lockdown divides and separates and there is a real danger that when we can meet again relationships will take a long time to rebuild. That discipleship will be stymied and one anothering limited as we rebuild relationships and trust. But it doesn’t need to be like that.
What we have when we can meet again fully will depend on what we invest in the time of lockdown and meeting together with restrictions. We need reminding to invest now because it’s not easy. We need to tune in, turn up, and engage. Yes, Zoom, YouTube, Facebook and FaceTime have their limits and frustrations but to disengage is to accept the inevitable atrophy of relationships that will make reengaging with church that much more difficult, if not unlikely. Opting out will have consequences.
So invest now. We can meet with one other person for a walk, so how many people are you meeting with? There are no limits on our Zoom and phone or video call interactions so invest in it. Our health as churches when we meet together may well depend on those little everyday decisions we deliberately make to engage now.