Smack dab in the middle of this Corona pandemic, God is up to something…but what?
As the world began to shut down in late February of this year, Psalm 94:9 struck me as not only timeless, but timely. “God isn’t hard of hearing; He will hear all our cries. God is not blind. He who made the eye has superb vision and He’s watching all you do.” (TPT) Clearly, God hears our prayers and sees us in our day to day lives. Most true believers know that God still speaks, moves, hears, saves, and answers the cries of His people. He is watching over all we do. It’s just that most of the time we are not tuned in to that reality. Especially when plagues, pandemics and viruses come along we tend to ask the God who is there, “Where are you?” “Why has this happened?” “What am I supposed to do when I lose my job, my security, my freedoms, or my health?”
When schools shut down my 10-year-old granddaughter said, “It’s getting real around here, Papa.” “Is everything going to be okay?” Maybe the question, “Is everything going to be okay?” is the deepest question in our hearts. Realities associated with this pandemic must be faced. Hard choices must be made. Many have turned to medicating their fears and anxieties to just barely hold on until things get back to normal. Some are venting their frustrations online or in public demonstrations. Anger and frustration have heightened across the world. I have struggled with some anxiety as my 85-year-old mom who lives on her own has had to self-isolate. I felt it personally when invitations I had to minister were canceled for 5 months so far.
Yes, it is getting real around here.
Thankfully, I am hearing about and seeing God move in the middle of it. Record numbers of people are praying. We are re-defining who our heroes are beyond movie, sports, and rock stars to first responders. A sense of community is building among families and neighbors. New creativity and innovations are being embraced in dynamic ways. In my experience this shut down has given me some needed time to re-fresh my soul, re-frame my focus and re-think the choices I will need to make going forward as this pandemic subsides—and I believe it will. As we have entered the month of May there seems to be increasing hope that the world could open back up in phases.
I recently asked the Lord, “What now?”
I heard in my spirit that God has given us a forced Sabbath, a Selah to pause, reflect and gain strength and perspective for what is to come. I do not sense status quo is what we should look for. As many people voice a longing to get things back to normal, I find myself wondering if getting back to normal is what God is after. I do not feel going back to the way things have always been is necessarily the best move for the body of Christ or the culture. There is something new in the spiritual atmosphere. I’ve seen a release of creativity in people as they have called out to God for help with their businesses, their schools, their families, their jobs, and their churches. Although I do not believe the Lord brought this pandemic, I do believe He has answers and solutions for it. He is still the One who provides, heals, and brings breakthroughs. He is the One who gives ideas, knowledge, and wisdom to people so they can bless others. Once again, God is flipping the script of Romans 8:28, “causing those things the enemy meant for evil toward the good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
My encouragement in this time is to consider three things:
#1. Embrace simplicity. Many choose to live like zombies stumbling around in fear, unable to sleep, wandering aimlessly trying to get from point A to point B as fast as possible. “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” by John Mark Comer is a good resource. It has messed with me in so many good ways. It helped me see that we do not have to go back to an unnecessarily, complicated life. Get rid of some stuff. Cancel a meeting, or two. Only watch news once per day. Laugh about something. Go outside.
“Life is right under our noses, waiting to be enjoyed.” J. Comer
#2. Be realistic. What worked in the past may not be effective now. God is up to something new! Stop pushing to meet unrealistic expectations either from within yourself, from others, or from past traditions. God still gives new mercies every morning. He will release new, creative ideas for more effective ways of doing things. The day of the personality driven, traditional, ‘one size fits all’ approach to government, education, business, and church is dying. Keeping it real is more than a buzz phrase. Taking an honest look at what is working and what isn’t will help us move forward together.
It is a time to speak and act with relevance a new generation can run with.
#3. Be hopeful. Now is a new day for the people of God to stand together as one, go and make disciples, and keep our focus on Jesus. This is NOT a time to focus on ourselves, our wants, our ministries, or our preferences. “When God’s people live together in unity, there…in that place He commands a blessing, life forever more.” (Ps. 133) It is NOT a time to shut down being active in sharing our faith. (Philemon 1:6) It IS a time to let all we do be shaped by creatively placing our focus on Jesus through loving our neighbours out beyond church walls. I believe we are in a time for releasing God’s kingdom into our neighborhoods, cities, and nations. I mean, that is why we’re here, isn’t it? God’s life gets bigger in us when we focus on Jesus’ top two of his top ten list: “Love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love our neighbours as we love ourselves.” (Matt. 22:38-40)
Where God’s life is, there is hope for the future.
I have experienced some wonderful seasons in my life as a pastor, a prophet, songwriter, and worship leader. We can honor and learn from the past, and we should. It is ok to brag on what Jesus has done in our lives to encourage ourselves and others to remember His faithfulness. But we simply cannot live on past accomplishments or past moves of God’s spirit. It gets exhausting to keep trying to repeat or recapture what has gone before. Throughout history the Holy Spirit has led God’s people forward in rest, peace, and timely action. We can no longer go through the motions of doing things because they worked in the past. It is a time to fully follow Jesus as He brings new forward movement, new creative expressions, and all with a doable rhythm of passion and rest. Living this way will make Jesus attractive and intelligible to those who hunger and thirst for God’s kingdom to break into earth as it is in heaven. Yes, God is up to something in the middle of this pandemic. He sees us and hears us. God is with us, watching over all we do. It is going to be okay.
What now? It is time to lean into ‘the new’ God has for you!