When we moved to the middle east I discovered that there were loads of rules in my new home… which no one kept! As someone who grew up in Britain, this was hard for me to grasp. We all have our own worldviews and it was fun having this one challenged! Here is some examples from daily life…
-Children playing on the outdoor gym equipment in front of the sign which states the use of the equipment by children under 12 is strictly forbidden.
-Seeing multiple kids dropped at the school gates after 9am after being told in a school assembly by the Head Teacher that children will not admitted to school if they arrive after 8:50am.
-Queuing – seeing people casually walk to the front of any queue ahead of people no matter what its for and how many people are waiting.
We have gradually got used to this new way of life and after a year of being in and out of full lockdowns (as in you can’t leave your house except for basic food shopping) during the pandemic, during the last 3 months there have been set times during the day when the elderly and children have been allowed out.
After the first few weeks our local friends started to stretch these rules somewhat taking their children out an hour before or after the set permitted times and we began to hear many many reasons as to why this was OK (‘its exempt if the kids are in your car,’ ‘it’s ok if you’re breastfeeding the baby’… all the way to ‘that rule is for kids on their own, if they are with their parents it’s OK’…etc)!
After a while, out of frustration (and cabin fever) we found ourselves joining right in with bending these rules. We weren’t hurting anyone. I just took my baby to the park by my house for 30 mins in the morning when no one was there anyway and I wore my mask… it’s no big deal.
And then, after a sharp spike in Covid cases just before the month of Ramadan came the news which brought us to our knees in dismay – a full lockdown. AGAIN.
3 days into the lockdown a few texts starting coming in from my friends. Shall we take the kids to the local park? I replied saying ‘isn’t there a full lockdown’? ‘Yes there is’, they replied, ‘but we are still going out, it’s up to you what you decide, we’ve had enough’. The next evening during dinner time we heard the joyful shrieks of kids playing in the park near us as my own children looked longingly out of our window. The lady walking towards us had a t-shirt on that said ‘break the rules’ and the irony was not lost on my husband and I as we stifled simultaneous anger and tears!
Now my formulated answer to offers to go out and ‘break the rules’ has been crafted along the lines of ‘Yes we have also had enough of this. Sometimes I feel like I cannot bear it anymore. But if we all keep breaking these rules even stricter measures will get put in place so that’s why we won’t be coming out today’.
My eldest son said to me the other evening ‘How are we being a good example if we obey the rules and stay in? No one can see our example?’ (He’s not wrong!) However he was missing the point. ‘We all have’ I thought, as I answered; ‘It’s not always about being a good example it’s about holiness’. Romans 13:1-2 tells us:
Obey the government, for God is the one who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. 2 So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.
We are called to obey the laws of the land in which we live. My local friends may not understand it but rules are there for a reason. In a culture where rules are there ‘not to be followed’ a lot of the time, it often doesn’t hurt anyone when they aren’t followed on an individual level. But as a nation if everyone continues to ignore rules that are put there for our good, it begins to do a lot of harm. It is now our prayer that our precious nation does obey these rules now so we can see a reduction in Covid cases and begin to heal. May our lives here and the decisions we make be a witness to the goodness and glory of God.