Re-opening. You’re going to hear that word a lot in the future. What’s life going to look like as we emerge from COVID-19?
If you’ve ever done home remodeling you know that it involves pain and suffering and never goes the way you planned. A few years ago, I remodeled my kitchen and what should have taken 2-3 months to complete, took 7 months and a growing desire to strangle my contractor! Re-opening after COVID-19, I am imagining will be a similar experience as different forces bring delays, restrictions, and unexpected challenges.
This week I read the new union production rules for shooting on Hollywood film and TV sets. It was remarkably complex, with restrictions and rules that kicked in if you want to gather actors and crews together. The final threat was, “If you don’t want to sign, don’t take the job.” It is just one example of what’s to come on many fronts. However, what we do and how we prepare now with the right attitude will help us move forward with greater success as our life and work have now forever changed.
Fighting fear with faith is the first decision to grasp as we emerge into our post COVID-19 world. Do you believe God’s promises?
Darlene Deibler, a missionary and POW during WWII in the Pacific, said that her biggest challenge as a prisoner wasn’t the lice, rats, dysentery, hunger, hard labor or daily beatings, it was not knowing. She called it, “The spiritually unprofitable game of suppose.” Uncertainty kills souls from the inside. As believers in God’s sovereign plan, we need to be on guard against “supposes.” Our remedy is to fight back with faith, trust, and an unshakeable knowing in God’s promises.
Author, Mike Shreve, an ex-New Age teacher who eventually became a Christian, has counted God’s promises throughout the Bible. There are 7,487 promises at his last count. Almost one- fourth of the Bible are promises and the text repeatedly confirms and continues to attest to their fulfillment by God throughout history. When I started remodeling my kitchen, I got a promise from my contractor and, well – I think you can read between the lines? Our forward motion has to be placed in the certainty of God’s unshakable promises.
God’s biggest promise to us, especially with the looming uncertainties after COVID-19, is that He will “never leave or forsake us.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) It’s not just a hope (as my kitchen contractor gave me) but a promise to be counted on, and more importantly, to move forward with after the pandemic.
However, God expects us to do our part. Will you choose to take hold of one of God’s irrevocable promises in the midst of your “supposes?” Will you act not out of fear but faith? When we can’t trust our natural mind, God says we can trust Him with our spiritual mind – or soul. Paul instructs us to examine that soul by saying, “Now your souls will be strengthened and healed if you hold steadfast to your faith. Haven’t you already experienced Jesus Christ Himself living in you? If not, you are deficient.” (II Corinthians 13:5 Passion translation).
The second question we need ponder is, what has God been teaching you about yourself? Are you “deficient”?
As you continue to “shelter in place” have you thought about your priorities in the future and about building an eternal shelter? Jesus said that the “earth and sky (our present shelter) will wear out and fade away before one word I speak loses its power or fails to accomplish its purpose.” (Matthew 24:35 Passion translation). If you haven’t made Bible reading and prayer a personal priority, then it must be number one on your list. Scripture memorization and reflection will be one of God’s primary ways of guiding you. His directives and wisdom when nothing else makes sense will be your biggest defensive fortification. God battles sin – the root of all disease and the cause of all uncertainties. Yet God doesn’t use guns, bombs or even a virus, but confronts us with the knowledge of who He is in our lives. Do you trust in His power to overcome your “supposes?”
When we fully understand the real disease (far worse than any man-made virus) that sin caused, we begin to see with clarity sin’s impact. Science and technology may be able to find a temporary cure for COVID-19 but there will be something else in the future and we will face our eventual end on earth. What then?
Jesus told us He was the cure. He conquered sin and said, “Behold, I’m standing at the door, knocking (waiting to give you the cure). If your heart is open to hear my voice and you open the door within, (it’s your choice) I will come in to you and feast with you, and you will feast with me.” (Revelation 3:20 Passion translation). God won’t enter without being invited. But when we fully open the door, He brings an unnatural “knowing.” Even more spectacular? We are able to celebrate and are joyous in not knowing because we don’t have to know what’s to come. We just have to know Him and trust Him fully.
Finally, what is the single most important thing you can gain from the COVID-19 turmoil, as we have faced restrictions and a loss of freedom?
Undaunting and unquestionable faith in God is the key. The battle is not ours; God never forsakes us; His grace and mercy are sufficient for all that has and will come to pass.
II Corinthians 12:9 (Passion translation) says, “But he answered me (Paul), “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So, I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me.”