It’s Desperate. Are You Seeking?

In this quiet, unusual season, I spent time out by our fire pit in the backyard the other evening. The only noises to ripple the silence were a few humming bugs and the crackling fire. As I sat, I prayed. I prayed for my church family. For our local responders. For our national leaders. For our church’s stability. For our health physically. For the church to seek God.

After some time taking in the fire and spending time in the Word and prayer, I made my way back to the house. Our fire pit is located just inside a wooded area of our back property. We hadn’t turned any lights on in the back, and it was already dark. When I turned from the fire, I couldn’t see the ground, the grown up roots, or the old stumps between me and the backdoor. What I did next, I did without even thinking. I pulled out my phone and clicked on the flashlight option to guide my steps back to the house. I needed to see. Otherwise, I might’ve stumbled or tripped.

Darkness makes us desperate to see. It prompts us to seek out light. It urges us to take care with our steps.

The dark, shadowy veil of this coronavirus has done the same for many. Like a cloudy, thick haze, it’s hindered our sight and blocked out the light for us to see what’s next. It’s put our routines in pause, our resources at risk, and many of our relationships on hold. It’s made us desperate to see.

As I’ve pondered that short walk back to the house, the Holy Spirit whispered a series of verses to my heart:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalms‬ ‭119:105‬ ESV‬‬)

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalms‬ ‭119:11‬ ESV‬‬)

29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice. (Deuteronomy‬ ‭4:29-30‬ ESV‬‬)

When our situations turn desperate and dark, we must turn to the Word to light our way (Psalm 119:105). The Word is the breath and truth of God that gives power to us to obey Him in trying circumstances (Psalm 119:11). It’s the tool God has given us to seek Him desperately when our circumstances have turned upside down (Deuteronomy 4:29-30).

The words of Deuteronomy were given specifically to the children of Israel on their wilderness journey from Egypt. But it’s important we remember that the character and nature of God hasn’t changed toward His people. When tribulation presses us and frightens us and limits us, God beckons us in desperation to seek Him through His Word and obey Him.

Are you seeking Him? Are you listening to His prompts to your heart? As He directs, are you obeying His Word? Have prayer and the Word become your lifelines to His truth, peace, power, and guidance?

God wants our attention. So He’s turned out the lights. He longs for us to long for Him. Desperately. He beckons us to ignite the lamp of the Word to give light to this dark path.

It’s quiet. Are you listening. It’s unsettled. Are you praying. It’s desperate. Are you seeking?

It’s Unsettled. Are You Praying?

The world is unsettled. Everything is different than the “normal” of a mere few weeks ago. In the county and state where I live, we’ve gone from gathering limitations of 100, to 50, to recommending 10 or less, to staying at home. Each decision has been marked with a great desire to stem the pace of this virus’ spread.

What it’s signaled to us: don’t do many things you normally would. Among others, we’ve been told to stop touching our faces, stop visiting one another, stop traveling, and stop gathering together.

I’ve never seen such unsettledness. I’ve never heard such limitations and concerns from our government officials. And I’ve never been more hopeful for what God can do in the midst of all of it.

Why you ask? We can pray. Our schedules have freed up. Our typical confidences have been shaken. For many, financial stability, job security, entertainment/leisure, and good health have been rocked. We must pray.

At Pleasant Garden Baptist Church, we’ve been praying. Before our gatherings paused, we had collected nearly 600 answers to prayer in Prayer Jars across the front of our altar throughout our series on prayer to begin this year. It’s no coincidence we’d been led to focus on prayer. Just this week, as my family has reengaged with each other more intentionally, we’ve seen God answer two specific prayer requests we have prayed together.

In the swirls of uncertainty and change, those two answers have felt like a lighthouse on a dark, foggy night. Those answers have brought reassuring peace in a stormy gale. Those answers have signaled again and anew that God sits on the throne, cares about the needs and burdens of His children, and answers our prayers as we cry out to Him.

We hope many of the don’ts we’ve been told to abide by will shorten the timespan and effect of this virus. It’s likely they will affect it some. For followers of Jesus, prayer is something we’ve been commanded to do that invites us to engage this virus—and everything else for that matter—in a spiritual realm.

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ (‭ESV‬‬)

In all of this unsettledness, a few truths are sure. Prayer invites us to trust God’s hand and seek His peace. I can bring every form of worry and uncertainty to Jesus in prayer. While I have no ultimate control over my circumstances, I have direct access in prayer to the King of Kings, the Sovereign One, the Ruler over all.

In truth, this unsettledness can be a gift if we will realize it’s an invitation to pray to the One who has the whole world in His hands. In prayer, we can trust our days and our direction to Him! We can seek Him for our health and our homes. We can bring to Him both our fears and follies. We can pray!

Practically, I encourage you. Add five minutes to your routine of prayer. Or add fifteen. Take a favorite passage and pray through it. Matthew 6:9-13, The Model Prayer, would be a great place to start. Pray with your spouse. Pray with your children. Sign up with a resource like Bless Every Home. Whatever you do, pray. Just pray.

It’s quiet. Are you listening? It’s unsettled. Are you praying?

It’s Quiet. Are You Listening?

Quiet. It’s early. I’m awake. There’s no bustle of schedule this early. No loud news updates. No wordy articles. No jostling conversations. Just quiet.

I find my soul craves the quiet. I find my schedule resists it. I find my spirit needs the quiet. I find my pulls fight it.

In the quiet, my mind and heart have been listening. Two sources of peace have been refreshing and reassuring in these past few weeks of uncertainty: reading the Word and praying. He’s been close. He’s been kind. He’s been encouraging. He’s been captivating. His dwelling place—His presence has been the most important need.

Just this morning, in these following words the God of heaven whispered peace, grace, and closeness in the quiet:

2 My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.

4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah. 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! 10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!”

Psalms‬ ‭84:2, 4-5, 9-12‬ ‭(ESV)

I need Him. His presence. His closeness. His strength. His protection. His favor. His honor.

I’ve found only one way to all those blessings. I must soak upon the Word of God and seek Him in prayer. My lips must be sweetened with the Scriptures. My heart must be full with prayers seasoned perceptibly and regularly with the Bible’s comforting truths.

I must dwell with Him.

For my Pleasant Garden Baptist Church family, I want to share with you a gift from the Bible app, Dwell. Their tool—normally a subscription app—will be free for the next 60 days for all those from our church who use this link.

Dwell PGBC Group Dwell Bible App

I can think of no better way to be quiet than to listen to the Word. I can think of no greater need than to have it comfort us and renew us. I can think of no greater way to address the worries, fears, or anxieties of this season than to seek Him in the Word and through prayer.

Befriend the quiet. In those still moments, God speaks. His Word resounds. His closeness beckons. Will you listen?

What Are You Afraid Of?

Uncertainty. Fear. Confusion. Doubt. Worry. Panic. Words like these have landed on us heavily in these past few days and will likely continue to settle on many of us in uncomfortable ways.

I don’t know what’s going to unfold, and I won’t pretend to be able to do so. I’m as uncertain as many of you navigating this unusual season. But what I do know — what I’m certain of — is that the sovereign God rules over these uncertain times.

So let me ask you an important question: “What are you afraid of?” Some may say death. Others loss of income. Still others may say the unknown. My guess is all of us have had an array fears grip us in recent days.

In Mark 4:35-41, seasoned fisherman found themselves trapped on a boat in a storm that caused them to fear their own death. They shook Jesus awake crying out, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (4:38). For the disciples, this moment was a life-or-death moment. This was a serious fear. A crippling fear. A legitimate fear. The storm had raged so powerfully, they thought the boat would fill and capsize sending them all to their death.

Even in their fearfulness, the disciples did the best thing they could do. They cried out to Jesus. They “prayed” and pleaded for their lives. And in an instant, Jesus with a gentle word said, “Peace! Be still” (4:39). The storm, wind, and waves stopped so instantly that the disciples were filled with a “great fear” at Jesus’ power (4:41). Their fear for their lives was replaced with a greater fear, a holy fear, a reverential fear of Jesus and His power.

Let’s not miss the lesson for us. This virus has overturned our schedules and threatened our lives. Like that frightening storm, cautious fear of this virus is not illegitimate. But the same Jesus who calmed that storm has not relinquished His seat on the throne. This virus hasn’t caused Him to quake or shudder or fret. He can guide us and protect us and heal us. Our greater fear must be of the one “who can destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Place your trust in Jesus. Stand in fearful awe of Him. No disease or disaster can overturn His authority. No difficulty can thwart His control. We may not have this, but He does. Why? Because He’s a sovereign God in all kinds of uncertain times.

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