My friends, we're currently talking about the times we're in, and today I want to tell you something intriguing that happened just before the pandemic. I'm sharing it because I believe it can give us some good guidelines for today.
COVID first appeared in December 2019, but in August I heard God say this:
"Get ready, you have no idea what's coming out of these cupboard doors --"
I had a sense that something was coming that I couldn't possibly guess at. Like the analogy of a cupboard, it was as if the doors would soon be open and this 'thing' would come out or be revealed.
I decided to tell Dineen, as I sometimes used to write to her about such things. I nearly fell off my seat when she wrote back and told me she'd heard the same thing -- That we were to get ready and something big was coming. In fact, it turned out that both she and a friend had each heard it within days of each other that very same week as me.
Well, that was amazing, but it got even more startling. Days after Dineen's email, I gave a talk at a church in Auckland that wasn't my usual church. Afterwards I got chatting to the pastor and he said, "I heard God say this week 'Get ready, and do not fear'."
He and I then talked about how striking that seemed. It seemed telling and noteworthy.
Later that August, I completely forgot I'd had the words 'Get ready', but quite separately I felt prompted to start spending my whole mornings with God. It was a real luxury -- The kids were out at school, Bryce was out at work, the house was quiet, and I had hours with God.
All of that long-lingering-with-the-Lord was reduced, of course, when lockdown happened in March 2020 and everyone landed home (aggh!) But those few months of quiet with God were impactful; they set me up to cope when the pandemic hit.
I share that last little story because it has something to do with 'Getting ready', and I believe that word 'Get ready' is still a key for how to respond today, just as much as it was in 2019. Further, it's not just get ready, but 'Get ready and do not fear'.
People have speculated if this is the end times. We don't know. There have been lots of crazy times in the world over the past centuries. On this topic there's perhaps always going to be some mystery --
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. Matthew 24:36 (NKJV)
What we are told instead is to always be ready.
Therefore also you be ready for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:44 (NKJV)
What does it look like to get ready, then?
First, it's like what I did in lingering with God in those months before the pandemic. That's only an illustration, mind you. Our other responsibilities (e.g., parenting) may not allow for that much lingering, but the point is we must take care of our souls as our biggest priority in life. That's all, and that's everything. Care for your soul -- Linger a little more with the Lord.
But then there's more. Jesus gave clear guidelines in Matthew 24 about how to respond to crazy times. The things we need to do to 'Get ready' are:
1. Take care not to be deceived (Matt 24:4, 23-24)
2. Do not partner with any kind of fear (Matt 24:6)
3. Don't let our love for others grow cold (Matt 24:13)
4. Keep watching the signs (Matt 24:33, 42)
5. Keep being active in ministering to others (Matt 24:45-51).
Each of the above points deserves more conversation in terms of how it relates to the pandemic, so I'm going to do a little video or two on the above over the next few weeks. But for now a great theme for us is this:
Get ready, stay ready .... and do not fear.
I'll leave it there. But, how are you doing at the moment, and what are the challenges for you in this time? If you'd like to share, I'd love to pray for you.