For too long the Church has been in lockdown. Christians have been in quarantine. But the new has come, and the Lord’s word is, ‘Come out!’
It’s not yet visible, true – but something new is here. It’s arrived, and we must seize the opportunity. On the other side of the pandemic, life will be different for all of us, and what it will look like is unknown. Some have lost loved ones – and maybe most of us will know someone who’s been struck down. Many have seen their businesses collapse, and even more have lost their jobs and livelihood – and, for some, relationships will have collapsed under the strain of enforced isolation, with bitterness and resentment bubbling through the thin crust of everyday acceptance. And maybe all of us will have been touched in some way by loneliness and fear, as we’ve been separated from loved ones … praying for their safe-keeping and protection.
Following our Day of Repentance and Prayer last Saturday, when we were joined online by over 6,000 – with countless more who couldn’t access the link, praying alone – I have been asking the Lord, ‘What now? What next?’
All week silence, and then this morning I felt Him say, ‘The new has come. It’s here.”
I offer this in the knowledge that we can all sometimes get things wrong, attributing and projecting onto the Lord our own hopes and interpretations, but as we struggle back to our feet, post lockdown, we all know life is going to be different. And if we are honest, most of us perhaps will say we’re a bit scared. What will the landscape of this changed world be like? How will we survive? But I believe that in the Lord’s words there is a promise – something better is here. I believe that better has come in response to our prayers, and the prayers of our brothers and sisters across the world, and the Lord is now commanding us to go in and make that promise real. I believe indeed that this is why the Lord called us – and others – to pray last week. To open a door.
There will surely be problems over the coming months. There will be battles to be fought. But, if and as we keep faith, we shall have victory, and the struggles will become blessing, because they will forge in us something new and rare.
By the Lord’s grace we stand on the borders of a new land – God’s command to us now is to go forward. As Linda Stalley reminded us last week, we must not look back to Egypt, but we must go into, and embrace, the new. It is time for the Church – for God’s people – to awaken and make our voice heard. But the Church too must go into that ‘new’, leaving the old, tired and faithless ways behind.
When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they had to fight – first to gain entry, and then to take possession, driving out those who had occupied the land in opposition to God’s will. The Lord was with the Israelites. He had brought them to that place – but, in order to take possession, they had to fight. While they were obedient, victory was assured, because the Lord was with them – when they were disobedient, they failed. I believe we are in that place now. With the pandemic, something unseen, but real, has broken. Last week, God called us to cry out in repentance … in order to open the gates so that He could come in.
We are God’s people, His ragtag – invincible – army. In this pandemic, we have been given an opportunity, and we are called now to fight – in His strength – to make the new He holds out a reality; to take possession of the land.
So let us continue in prayer. Let us continue to repent for the evils our nation has not just embraced, but has actively celebrated. And in the name of Christ, let us call in the new. Without doubt, the giants are still in the land and won’t give up possession without a fight. But the Lord has called us to stand, and He has given them into our hand. He promises us victory. So let us in hope and courage – without fear and trusting in His strength – go forward into the new.