Being human is learning how to live with limitations. Early on, we learn there are certain things we can’t do. We watch the birds in the air and long to join them in the sky, but as any kid who jumped out of the barn loft wearing a towel around his neck can tell you, we can’t fly. Most of our early lives are a series of embarrassing moments when we found out something else we can’t do.

It’s singing in public for the first time and having the audience laugh at your solo. (No, they aren’t laughing with you).

It’s getting a C+ on the math test you thought you had aced.

It’s getting a “Needs Improvement” in art.

Gradually, life uses humiliation after humiliation to guide us into our life’s purpose and focus.

It gets worse. Growing old means learning new limitations every day. What you could do yesterday you find out you can’t do today. When I walk into the gym to talk to my boys as they’re shooting around, they want to play me like they did when they were little, and of course, I was younger.

I could still take them I say...if I wanted to...but right now, I just don’t want to.

Now, we have the pandemic. Every day, we’re given a list of things we can’t do. Students can’t go back to school. They’re trying to study online. Churches are limited to half capacity, wearing masks and social distancing -- if we can go at all. Baptists love to hug. Trying to tell them to stay six feet apart is risky for local church leaders.

We can’t go to restaurants. We can’t go to the movies. We can’t go shopping. We can’t hang out with our friends. Well, we can if we sit six feet apart, but what’s the fun in that?

Being told every day what we can’t do is getting depressing. And in reality, a lot of us are depressed.

So, what should we do? Well, if you can’t do what you want, do what you can.

And the truth is, we can do a lot.

In my current position, I get to work with a lot of younger pastors, and when the pandemic hit and we were told to stay home, they wanted to know how we were going to “do church” if we couldn’t gather in our facilities on Sunday morning.

So, we had several conversations reviewing church history and current church practices around the world. There is an unspoken arrogance in the American church that assumes we have the practice of church down to a science. We know how to gather a crowd, focus their attention with appropriate worship music, take the offering, preach a sermon, and do it all in 1 hour and fifteen minutes.

But how do we do church without our building?

We do church very well without a building, thank you very much. In fact, buildings are a relatively new accommodation for church life. For generations, the church met in homes, open fields, shops and barns. Around the world, churches reach thousands without permanent facilities. They meet in homes and around tables in restaurants, open the Bible and study the Word. They worship and pray for each other, and when they’re are too many people to meet in that place, they find another place and start another group.

Pastors pour themselves into the lives of their leaders who, in turn, teach their groups and train other leaders. These churches don’t grow arithmetically, but geometrically. They don’t add new members by ones, but by the tens and hundreds.

We can do groups using video conferencing. I know, there are limitations to this, but if it’s what you can do it’s what you can do.

You can write emails teaching the word and disciplines of following Christ. Pastors used to do this. We called them pamphlets. Some of these pamphlets changed the world.

No, you may not be able to visit the hospital, but you can make calls and write prayer cards. I know. It’s old school, but I’m an old guy. They still work. Email is great. Texts are fine, but there’s nothing like hearing the voice of a friend on the other end of a phone call.

You can read the Bible. I mean, really read the Bible. You can read theology and biographies of great Christian saints and leaders. I’m finishing up Charles Marsh’s biography on Bonhoeffer, Strange Glory.

You can rework your life to focus on what matters to you. You can rethink your priorities and commitments. Not only do we need to declutter our closets. We need to declutter our minds and our hearts.

Do you remember the parable of the talents? If you follow the logic of the story, the servant who had 5 talents would have had 2 talents last time. The servant who had 2 talents would have had one talent, and the servant with one talent would have been trusted for the first time. It’s only when we’re faithful with small things that Jesus will trust us with more.

The pandemic may have put all of us in a one talent moment. Let’s be faithful in small things and prepare ourselves for the moment when God will open up more for us to do.

And that starts when we stop worrying about all the things we can’t do and simply start doing what we can.