From the roof of our house to the south of Kathmandu, you can look beyond the fields and houses to ranges of thickly wooded hills that form the rim of the Kathmandu valley. I have spent many hours running and riding in those hills, sometimes getting lost, and often picking leeches out of my shoes.
For much of the last six months that distant view is the closest we have been able to get to those hills as lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of covid have kept everyone indoors. For someone who loves to be outdoors and who experiences God through the beauty of nature, that has been hard. Despite having so much to be thankful for – a safe place to live, food to eat, surrounded by loving family, with work to do and certain of God’s goodness – the lack of freedom has been stressful and I have found myself resenting the fact that I cannot get out into the hills.
Being stuck in one place has given us the chance to observe the world around us. From our balcony and from short walks in the fields nearby we watched spring give way to the rain and mud of monsoon. Most households in the local community still have a plot of land which they farm. They know and understand the rhythm of the seasons and during lockdown they have worked hard to get the most out of the soil, harvesting the mustard crop before preparing the land to plant maize which soon towered over us. As our world has shrunk, we have got to know our neighbours better, and been aware of God’s creation surrounding us in ways that we might otherwise have missed: the call of cuckoos, amazing butterflies and incredibly hairy caterpillars.
In the midst of so much uncertainty, we have reflected on God’s faithfulness and goodness. In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches his followers to be generous and humble, to pray, and not to worry – a great model for us today. Jesus lived in uncertain times, facing hunger, storms and persecution on all sides, and yet he was perfectly in tune with his father’s will. To demonstrate God’s faithfulness, Jesus points to the birds of the air: ‘they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?’
We do not know when the pandemic will end, we are not free to travel and we do not know what next year will bring. But we do know that God is good, and his plans are perfect. What can we learn from the birds of the air or the grass of the fields in the midst of such uncertainty? Where is God at work in the midst of covid, and what is he calling us to be at this time?
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
Breathing the Bible is an INF Australia blog series, exploring how life and service in Nepal influenced the way people read and respond to Scripture.
Phil Morris, with family, has served with INF in Nepal in different roles from 2006–2008 and 2019–2020.
Other posts in the series:
Breathing The Bible: Family
Breathing The Bible: Fellowship
Breathing The Bible: Prayer
Breathing The Bible: Justice
Breathing The Bible: Sacrifice
Breathing The Bible: Story