As we see the whole world being shaken in so many ways, we know something big is happening, but it remains to be seen just how our lives will be forever changed. For us believers, it’s been a special retreat opportunity – if somewhat forced – to listen to God in our devotional and fellowship times, seeking the Lord for what changes are coming and so getting ready for the new opportunities that lie ahead. Now our eyes are fixed on the end of lockdown, coming soon.
There are striking differences among us, however, in regard to what we have been dealing with during this crisis. Some of us have entered into a period of welcome new activities or rest, others are bored or lonely and still others haven’t been busier; some have had their relationships strained, while others’ have been strengthened and renewed; some have entered into a time of fasting and repentance, while others have entered into great feasting and fun.
And what a blessing it has been to have at our fingertips great teaching about how to deal with each of these – live videos from around the world, midweek connect groups and Sunday services. Now we’ve just finished celebrating the highlight of the Christian calendar – Easter. Did you feel that we were invited to celebrate this like never before? I’m guessing most have taken a little more time to focus on this great event that celebrates the core of our Christian faith.
A prophetic word I heard from someone a couple of weeks ago stated that though we enter into this crisis in one form – as a caterpillar – what will emerge is a beautiful butterfly; (pause). When we do emerge, will we say we saw it coming? Remember the disciples didn’t really expect Jesus’ resurrection. But neither did they miss it. All they had to do was to stay together, tweak the organisation a bit, and wait. Jesus showed up in their midst, even as they were just hanging about.
Even so, Peter soon went back to fishing. When lockdown ends, you might aim to go back to your jobs. It’s only natural to want to get back to the way things were – to the extent that’s possible – and make the best of the new economic landscape. Jesus may be alive, but I’ve still got a family to feed. But even while fishing, Jesus caught up with Peter and the boys and once again proved that it wasn’t a difficult thing to get all the provision you can handle. With that in mind, Jesus said to Peter, I have my lambs that need tending and feeding.
Unlike Peter, while we wait, we have already been forced to re-think about our provision. Has anybody noticed a sifting and sorting of your spending priorities through this crisis? As we have been challenged and changed in our hearts during this shake-up, so will our spending patterns change. Is it possible that they are getting more aligned with your godly purpose and vision? So then, when the dust settles over the new landscape, how are you going to respond to your new income level? It doesn’t have to drive your spending. Let your renewed sense of purpose and vision drive it.
After their fishing expedition, Peter and the disciples were told to go back to Jerusalem and just wait. At that time, they had no idea what was about to come down and change everything. When the Holy Spirit came with fire, they finally saw what they could not have understood all along. Suddenly, the means of provision – and their vision of restoring the kingdom to Israel – completely changed. Much can be said about how radical that was.
So, we too, during this time of waiting, may be wondering what this crisis has really been all about, and perhaps why life hasn’t changed like you hoped it would. Remember some key phrases Jesus gave to the disciples in John’s gospel: keep believing in me; don’t let your hearts be troubled; in a little while you will see me. It turns out everything Jesus promised suddenly made sense and possible on that next Pentecost day. It was the event that birthed the church. Our Pentecost event, coming at the end of May, is something that we can look forward to with great expectation.