There are times I have to admit to myself that my mind can go off onto some strange tangents. A couple of days ago I was thinking about PPE, Personal Protective Equipment, we all know is primarily for health care workers. Thankfully availability of masks, shields, gloves, hand sanitizer, etc., took off the first 6 weeks of the pandemic.
Here’s where my propensity for tangents took off. Beyond masks & social distancing measures, I wonder what would qualify as spiritual PPE for us Christians along with everyone else? What kind of PPE do we need?
One thing we could use: massive quantities of PATIENCE. We need to be ready to ride out this pandemic much longer than many folks tell us it will take to conquer it.
I am NOT good at patience. I hate long lines of any kind or waiting for a second green light to get through a crowded intersection. I’m preaching to myself here.
Yet, I know some things take a boatload of patience: seven-plus years of school to qualify for professions like physicians, lawyers and ordained clergy; parenting a child for 18 years before they go off to college, leave home for a first full-time job; experience to become adroit in technical fields like carpentry, plumbing, auto-repair, which are always changing. Anything worthwhile takes loads and loads of patience!
A second “P” in PPE to me is PERSISTENCE: keeping on keeping on. We all Persistence to get through all the chaos this pandemic has created. We need to figure out how to get comfortable in the saddle to ride this Covid-19 out.
My love of cross-country bicycling most of my adult life has taught me about persistence. Even averaging 10-12 mph over 8 hours can leave you with saddle sores, but also with a sense of accomplishment. Ironically, I’ve learned that those moments I feel like I’m getting nowhere grinding out are often the best times in my training. That’s when your muscles get stronger. We need to be marathoners, not sprinters in the face of Covid’s challenges.
The last letter “E” in PPE is also hard to come by: ENTHUSIASM. We don’t think of Enthusiasm as a spiritual term, but it is! It literally means “God-within” “En-theos.” Yes, it refers to zeal and excitement, but it’s mostly about being “God-inspired.”
All the “Sheltering in Place,” we’ve had to do the past 7 months has lent to a lot of ennui, spiritual boredom. It can make us all feel more introverted, anxious, even afraid to walk out our door. But Enthusiasm has the capacity of nudging us to call upon God’s help to enliven us and think about someone worse off than us.
You add up all this spiritual PPE—Patience, Persistence, Enthusiasm—and we’ve got the New Testament concept of “putting on the whole armor of God.” This armor protects us the most when we put others ahead of ourselves and reach out with compassion, mercy, justice, hope, joy and love for others..
And, just think about it! Don’t we all need people with this new kind of PPE to minister to us and with us? Don’t we need to be this kind of PPE for others?
Into the breach!