A Surprising New Season
The world has changed this year in ways none of us would’ve ever anticipated. While this has surprised most of us, this hasn’t surprised God. He who knows the number of the hair on our heads, and guides the hearts of kings, also is sovereign and supreme over every cell, every virus, over every city, and over every season. There are seasons for everything the book of Ecclesiastes tells us. A time to laugh, a time to cry. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to break down and a time to build up (Ecclesiastes 3). We are clearly in a new season of life. Life seems so uncertain now, but what can we know for sure? And what can be certain of in our lives? What is God leading us to do in this new season? While we can never fully understand the ways of God (Isaiah 55:8-9), His Word gives us steps we can take in uncertain times. Here are some steps that are clear for us right now.
A Season to Pause
Now more than ever, our souls need to be still each day. We need to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). There is heightened stress, fear, and anxiety in our world today. While a few countries are seeing the numbers of infections decline, as I write this, most countries are seeing those numbers escalate each day. Begin crafting new habits. Begin each day by being still and surrendering your heart, your life, your family, your career before the One who reigns and rules over all things. That stillness each day is good for your mind, your body, your faith, and your leadership. It is a unique season of sabbath, where God is taking us out of our normal routines of life in order to be centered around Him again. Let a heart of surrender to His sovereignty be where you begin each day. When you wake up simply say, “God, I surrender. You are God. You reign. You are greater. You are in control. And I surrender all to You. You will be exalted in the nations. You will be exalted over all the earth. I exalt You right now.”
A Season to Pray
Closely connected to my first point of pausing is that we have a new season for praying. For many of us, we have a unique opportunity to have extended time at home and more flexibility with our time like never before. To pray always is God’s clear will for us in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We no longer have the excuse of not having enough time to pray. Take advantage of this season to deepen your prayer life. We need this. Our soul needs this. Our family needs this from us. Our ministry needs this from us. And our Father in heaven longs to spend unhurried time with us. With the burdens and stress that come upon us each day, we need to cast all our cares, worries, and burdens to Jesus knowing that He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Could it be that God is calling His Church to intercede for our world, our nation, and our generation like never before? Could it be the need for prayers is so urgent from the heart of God, that He has allowed all of us to have extended periods of days, weeks, and even months to increase our prayers for our leaders, our neighbors, the sick, the health care professionals, the schools, and the nations? Yes, pray for your family and loved ones, but don’t stop there. As a family, pray for those who are sick and vulnerable. Pray for wisdom for our President and mayors and governors. Each time you wash your hands, pray for healing, protection, and revival. We are in a season where God is calling us to pray. Learn to make prayer your home.
A Season to Play
God is giving many of us a very unique and rare season to have extended time on our hands. And for those with children, it is a special season to pour into them. If your kids are young, don’t let the news of sickness and death dominate their days. Instead, turn the TV off and create wonderful memories for them. Play games with them. Do sports in the backyard. Make puzzles and Legos together. Put a tent in the backyard or living room and camp out with them. Paint, color, draw, make a YouTube channel together with their talents. Work on a home project together. Exercise as a family. Take advantage of this season because it will be gone one day. We may remember this as a difficult period in our lives, but they may remember it as some of the best days of their lives because it was time spent with you. Enjoy it. Enjoy them. They are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). Play with them to the glory of God.
A Season to Praise
There are many messages that will speak fear into our hearts today. But we are not a people of fear, but a people of faith. As the Israelites would put the praise leaders on the frontlines before entering battle, we too need to fix our gaze and release the praise out of our hearts and into the courts of heaven. Praise and worship are powerful. It can strengthen and encourage our hearts during this uncertain period we are in. Fill your mouth and your homes with His praises. Let everything that has breath in your homes, praise the Lord (Psalm 150:6). Let your family be marked with worship instead of worry. And parents, you need to lead the way. Fight the fight of faith by fixing your eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Sing of His goodness. Sing of His might. Tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord (Psalm 78:6). Let this season be remembered for the songs that were sung to the Savior of the world.
A Season to Put God’s Word in Your Heart
I want to encourage you to fill your mind with God’s Word and to meditate on it day and night (Joshua 1:8). If you’ve never done so yet, commit to memorize a book of the Bible (maybe begin with Ephesians or Philippians). You know the best way to memorize a book of the Bible? One verse at a time. And think of it as a lifelong goal to have. Do one verse a week and keep building on that. During your morning devotions, review it. Especially for those who have trouble falling asleep right away at night, use that time to go over all those verses. I’ve been going through Ephesians for the past year and I’ve allowed my time at night to be where I review those chapters before I fall asleep. (Driving is another good time to review them). We have time now to reprioritize our lives and shape our schedules so that we are shaped by His Word. Make the best use of time (Ephesians 5:16) and let this be a season of saturating your life with Scripture.
A Season to Practice Hospitality
While we practice “social distancing”, we must not let it become social isolating. Reach out to neighbors and loved ones via phone calls, texting, and video calls. Let them know that you are thinking of them and see if they have any needs. If you know of neighbors who are elderly or have physical challenges, find ways to serve them. Maybe drop off some groceries or a meal for them. If you know of health care professionals or emergency responders, offer to look after their kids or drop off some food for them. This is a special season we are in, especially for the local church to be light of Christ to our communities. With wisdom, seek ways to bless your community in practical ways. Serving the needs of others is a way of expressing the love of God into their lives (1 John 3:17). Let them see your good deeds and bring glory to the Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
A Season to Preach Christ and the Hope of the Gospel
As a pastor for the past 25 years, I can’t end without a special word of encouragement to my fellow shepherds. I will write another post specifically to pastors, but for now, I want to give you this charge: preach Christ and the hope of the gospel. Consider doing a sermon series through the book of 1 Peter, Job, Revelation, or James. In every crisis, hearts become softer to the gospel. People are fearful, stressed, and worried. Understandably so. But for those of us in Christ, we know the One who holds tomorrow in the palm of His hands. We know the One who with one word, spoke creation into existence. We know the One who lifts up His voice and the earth melts (Psalm 46:6). We know the One who can calm the storm and that can calm the child. We know the One who conquered sin and its curse on the cross. And we know the One who will return, one day soon, to make all things new. Jesus is coming to take us home. So thank God that this season is a reminder that creation is groaning for the return and redemption of Christ. Thank God that this season is a reminder that this world, in its current form, is not our home. And thank God that one day soon, the curse will forever be lifted and we will rule and reign with Christ forever. A day is coming where there will be no more sickness, viruses, or fear. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4). This is the hope your people need. This is the hope we all need. Preach Christ, the hope of the world.