Voices are coming at us, aren’t they? Guiding, shouting, whispering, advising, ordering and some, gently helping. Let’s be careful who we listen to. One of the voices I came across this week was that of Pete Grieg. Founder of the 24/7 prayer movement in the UK, I find Pete’s thoughts to be thoughtful and careful, while not diminishing the reality or responsibility of facts he brings a faith-filled response. Pete preached at Emmaus Road this past weekend; here’s a snippet or two…mingled with a few of my musings.
Psalm 46 says,
‘God, you’re such a safe and powerful place to find refuge! You’re a proven help in time of trouble—more than enough and always available whenever I need you. So we will never fear, even if every structure of support were to crumble away.‘
‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.’
We are in a time of finding our faith, while in isolation and fear. It’s important to know the truth of our rock, as people and our security shake around us. Even before Covid-19, there were fires, floods and scandals. And now this, the invisible enemy that has affected us all – none of us immune to its effects.
What we do know is that things will never be the same. I’m not sure they’re meant to be? What we do know in this shaking and crumbling of security is that there will be a generational change and transition. There will be a change in culture. There will be new habits. There will be new technology. There will be beauty for ashes.
Let’s think on some foundational truths:
Let’s not forget, as followers of Jesus; we are encouraged to wage a war of a different kind. Ephesians 6 says we do not battle against flesh and blood but principalities and powers, ‘God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare.’ Be praying!
Love God. He is sovereign, God hasn’t sent this, but He is with us in it. Let’s not forget that resurrection beats crucifixion. Our faith says that the greater good will come. As you have more time in the coming weeks/months – give God your love, worship, sing a new song. Celebrate all that is good and remind others of the sweet love of Jesus. Eugene Peterson wrote that ‘confinement brings a deepened, zestful life.’
Let us wake daily, and before scrolling, be still and know He is God. Let us be honest about our emotions. Be kind to yourself, have empathy for your feelings. Faith is not absent in honesty. The bible is full of desperate, honest, fearful prayers: Look at Jesus as he cried out to God in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Psalmist in his prayers and Naomi when she was pouring out her grief to Ruth and the Lord.
Perfect love casts out fear 1 John 4:18 – casts out, drives out, kicks out. It’s ok; you don’t have to do it, perfect love will do it, as you draw near to perfect love, be honest about how you are feeling, how this is affecting you. How your emotions are stressed, your anxiety is high, how you are reacting. Ask Him for courage.
Love One Another. The very thing we are created for is being hit: community, At a time when we are advised not to hug, to self-isolate, we need to find ways to connect. For us, as Willow Park church, we are offering church online for the next few weeks. You can join us online here Keep checking our website for more ways to engage.
Love your Neighbour. Hold out your (virtual, clean) hand, respond in wisdom and peace. Drop a note through the door – do you need groceries, prescriptions, do you need a book to read, can we pray for you? People are frightened, with good reason, and we have a reason for peace in the same storm – our proven faith. Our stories of His faithfulness. It’s time to share the reason for our hope.
As this virus is shaking the world; we know it is not shaking you.
As the virus hits the vulnerable, sick, elderly and compromised – we are reminded those are the very people who are close to your heart.
May they also be close to ours.
As the virus affects breathing, let us breathe in the very breath of God, the Spirit, the source of life.
As each day brings news of more shaking – our health, jobs, our economy.
Please help us.
Help us to show you more, to know you more, to be your hands and feet.
And even though we tremble, help us to let go and trust, and accept the new.
Because, Lord, we know we will never be the same,
You are making all things new.
As I sit here today, writing my scattered thoughts, spring sunshine dancing on my dirty windows – I see tiny buds on the lilac tree and the birds are singing, louder than usual – they don’t seem too worried.
You are loved!
Here are two courses that Phil has recently produced:
Navigating Worry is here
Hearing God is here
Here’s a pic of Josiah practicing social distancing, just before they closed Big White this week.
And a song I am singing over my family, my community and my city.