What if one of the lasting upsides of the current crisis season is a closer, more dynamic relationship with our Heavenly Father?
The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in significant suffering and uncertainty for many, and the end seems nowhere in sight. As well as standing with those affected personally, we’re lamenting the likely loss of much of SU Scotland’s regular face-to-face ministry in 2020.
Yet for all the negatives, there have been upsides. Living in the flightpath for Glasgow airport, the reduced noise pollution has been unmissable, as has the birdsong! But getting comfortable with silence or quietness doesn’t come easily to us. A friend recently mentioned his habit of always putting the radio on while doing the dishes. Our smart devices are rarely far from hand. Australian Pastor Mark Sayers confesses to intentionally leaving his phone at the furthest away part of the house to minimise the possibility of being distracted from time with God first thing in the morning1. The huge number of readily accessible ‘voices’ constantly clamouring for our attention is both alluring and overwhelming.
I know I’m not alone in feeling deeply challenged to make more space for quality time with God in this unique season of enforced stillness and pause. To be more Mary and less Martha if you like.
In John 10 Jesus, our Good Shepherd, talks three times about his sheep “listening to his voice”. But how does God speak to us? It’s a classic question pretty much guaranteed to come up in any SU holiday or youth group Q&A session!
Short answer? Through the Bible, his written word, most evidently; by the still small voice of his Holy Spirit; in the person of his Son, Jesus (Heb 12:1-2) and all that we read of him in the gospels; through being part of a Christian community in which “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16); through nature even (Rom 1:20). It’s an awesome reality that the God of the universe is very much willing and able to reveal himself and speak into our lives as we make space for him to do that.
Get through this crisis we will – not because of who we are, but because of who He is. Meanwhile, what if one of the lasting upsides of this strange season was a closer, more dynamic relationship with our Heavenly Father? With that possibility in mind, I invite you to join me in seeking to make the most of this opportunity to prioritise “listening to his voice” in regular, unhurried Bible reading, reflection and prayer.
To what end? Christian leader Terry Walling comments so profoundly: “God is the prize, not the answer I’m seeking. The whole prize in this moment is not getting the answers but recognising who we’re following… He is the one that we are seeking, not answers to our problem.” 2
Encouraging children and adults to nurture a habit of regular Bible reading and time with God in prayer has long been a hallmark of SU’s ministry. In this moment of significant uncertainty, let’s continue to do that and stand together on the incredible promise in James 4:8: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
PS I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections on what God might be saying to us as the SU family and where he might be leading us as a mission movement, both now and in the season ahead. Feel free to send a direct message via LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter or email firstname.lastname@example.org
1 https://rebuilders.co/rebuilders-leading-through-crisis (episode 7)
2 ibid. (episode 5)