Essential or Non-Essential

I don't know about tomorrow
I just live for day to day
I don't borrow from the sunshine
For its skies may turn to gray
I don't worry o'er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I'll walk beside Him
For He knows what lies ahead (1)

We seem to read or sing these verses in a different light now, don't we? Like each of us over the last few weeks and months, I have been reassessing many of my plans.

Essential and non-essential are words that have been going through many of our minds, and every time we think of them, they seem to get redefined as well. What should we do now and what should we postpone?

Other categories like urgent and important are also being re-established even as I write this: what should we buy, what will we eat and drink, which clothes will we need? Is now the time to buy a car or can this wait, too? We are realizing that we can get by with much less; trifles are not even mentioned anymore, let alone placed in the shopping cart. The car you drive, the brand of the watch on your wrist, the clothes we are wearing matter no more.

This may be hard for some to see quite yet but there will also be effects of innovation that rise from this time, generated by the need to live our lives differently. Online schooling in Romania, for instance, an idea the government only paraded before us during election years, is slowly becoming a reality, and teachers seem to be adapting quite well, without any expensive training programs burdening our budget. There was no need to equip the schools, teachers, or students with over-priced training or equipment. Our state-owned TV company is broadcasting essential courses for students in middle-school and high-school. Some of us are also figuring out the many meetings we have gone through that could have been simple e-mails but also the e-mails that should have actually been meetings. We are re-evaluating the importance of interpersonal relationships, but also the efficiency of our work. All of this, we are figuring out as we go along, but discovering together that it can be done.

Faith, too, is being refined right now. It is during times of panic and crisis that we can discern whether churches and individuals are practicing what they preach. And we can also better notice what they preach. Helping those in need is another way to discern the heart of the church.

This is not the first time in history that believers and humanity as a whole have gone through trials. It will not be the last. But it is our turn to determine whether we will live through faith or not. While many of us were taking everything for granted a few days ago, today we are praying for “our daily bread” in a very different tone. Prayer has a new and revitalized focus.

This is not the first time the church and its stewards are experiencing illness and need. And while empires and countries have disappeared off the face of the earth as a result of crises, the church is still standing!

This is also not the first time that the world looks to the church, waiting for a message of hope delivered not just with words, but mostly with deeds. What is truly essential?

This is not the first time that humanity has gone through something like this. The question is: how do we wade through what's next? What I can say for sure is that this seems to be the right time to listen very closely. Because, as C.S. Lewis once said, God whispers to us in our pleasures and speaks to us in our conscience. But God shouts to us in our pain.

Vlad Criznic is a member of the speaking team and director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Romania.

(1) Ira Forest Stanphill, I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.
(2) C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperCollins, 1940/1996), 91.

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