Before the pandemic of Covid-19, teachers and administrators at my school had been gathering to pray for revival. I wish I could say that I joined them, but I convinced myself I was “too busy.” Lots of urgent things took priority over important things before this all happened. Now God has stopped us all in our tracks. While many of us are still very busy doing academics online, all the dance practices and athletic events and other things that filled up our time (even watching sports on TV) are suddenly stopped. I saw a meme that said God has “sent us to our rooms” for poor behavior, and while that elicits a smile, I wonder if it isn’t too far off.
When I was younger, someone told me this saying: “If Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” C.S. Lewis points this out in The Screwtape Letters as the senior demon Screwtape writes to his nephew Wormwood:
“And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.”
Or as C.S. Lewis writes in The Weight of Glory:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
I have personally rarely grown closer to God without some major hardship or suffering. I have seen close friends experience the same as they cling to Jesus through a cancer diagnosis and treatment or even something as horrible as the loss of a child. For me, the hardest loss I have suffered was the loss of a job and a community I loved, totally unexpectedly. We moved to Chattanooga and truly “started over” which was incredibly hard for my family at first. Now we are settled and have seen the goodness and kindness of God throughout the storm. But the main thing I am thankful for is that my faith was indeed proved genuine through this hardship. There were moments when like Job I asked God why and moments of despair too for my own mistakes, but I did not turn my back on the Lord or question his authority in allowing this to happen, nor his goodness. “The Lord gave and the Lord took away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Do we really know whether we love God for God or for what he gives us? Not until he takes it away. Not really.
I am a mom to a senior and I have seen this year’s class of 2020 struggling with the loss of so many “senior moments” from their long-awaited senior trip to the possibility of missing out on senior prom, time with their friends, and even potentially graduation. And while I believe some of those things will still happen or be rescheduled, it is important to allow them to grieve, and their mommas too for that matter as I think half of these milestones are really for us as we learn to “let go.” But we shouldn’t remain in grief mode for too long, because his mercies are new every morning. What does he want to teach us through this? And so I found myself asking some important questions this morning about this moment in history as well as about the class of 2020 in particular (the class with “20/20 vision”).
- What if God is slowing us down to get us to notice Him more?
- What if God is slowing us down to reveal our idols to us?
- What if God is intending to bring revival, but as is the case so often, the way in which he delivers it isn’t the way we expected?
- What if the ONLY way his Spirit was going to get through the noise of our hectic lives was to turn down the volume on everything else?
- What if God wants to take our capacity for wonder, so dulled by the constant barrage of life, to the next level – to open our eyes to notice his goodness?
- What if those kids who often complained about their private school education and having to go to school are only now realizing what they had and thankful for it?
- What if the only way the culture at large would start to appreciate the blue collar workers like truck drivers and the healthcare workers and the grocery store workers was for this to happen? For us to be so utterly dependent upon them?
- What if the only way God could challenge our addiction to control was to show us how very out of control we are?
- What if the only way for us to love our families more, with our TIME, was to force us to spend time in isolation only with them?
- What if the only way God could show us how truly selfish we are is to ask us to do something selfless (like stay home for the good of others)?
- What if, as I have seen posted in several places, the church needs to show that it is more than just a building by being without a building for awhile?
- What if the people of God stepped up to SERVE in this crisis? Through whatever means we have available to us? Maybe that’s picking up toilet paper for an elderly neighbor or maybe it is giving an anonymous donation to a suddenly unemployed family? Or bringing freshly baked bread to a neighbor you have never even said hello to before?
- What if the Class of 2020 chose to lay aside their grief for what they are missing out on (as justifiable as it is) and ask God to show them how to be light in the darkness?
What is the “what if?” that is coming to mind for you today? What do you think God is trying to teach YOU? His still small voice was never intended to be a shout. We have to stop to listen. And now I am praying that God brings revival to my heart, my family, my school, and my world and that he uses the Class of 2020 in ways they cannot even imagine to bring that to pass.