It’s apparent that the world is changing. Looking back, before the catastrophes in our culture, the cases of COVID-19 and contentious politics that might be difficult to fathom, there was a time, oh so long ago, that these things were not on the forefront of our minds. Can you remember what that was like?
I hope it’s been apparent to you that God is doing something in the midst of all the change. In a recent conversation I had with a friend, about ministry-related matters, a question was posed to me: “What do you think God has been doing in this season?” Hence, the inspiration for today’s blog, ‘Lessons from Lockdown’. I realized how important and beneficial it can be, to you, for me to list what I sense the Lord is doing. Perhaps, you have noticed and experienced the same lessons that I have.
Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Centered on Simplicity
When quarantine orders were being enforced and new regulations were sent out each day, there was a natural sense of confusion and chaos. I remember feeling discombobulated as I tried, with other church leaders, to navigate how we are going to do ministry. Shortly thereafter, a ‘stripping’ took place – much of our ministry-related activities and events had to cease or be creatively modified.
Through this time, I sensed the Lord was drawing people back to what truly matters – His heart. So many of us had become slaves of the good – schedules, meetings, relationships, etc. – so that what was truly important was neglected…. His presence. All of the exterior placements were removed to bring us back to the simplicity of our worship… to come before Him in devotion of the Word and prayers from our inmost being.
For me, that emphasis was on ministry, and it consumed much more of my life than it should have. God was wooing me back to His heart. While yours might be different, I believe His purpose for you is the same – to focus your attention back to Him in its purest form of devotion.
2. Exposing Idols
This one is straightforward, but that doesn’t make it less impactful. The stripping, brought forth the revelation of that which we truly value. See “New Normal” for more (https://nathancherney.com/new-normal/) You ever hear the phrase, “You don’t realize what you had until it’s gone”? Well, there’s a lot of truth to that.
While it’s one thing to miss the ‘usual way’ of doing things, it’s another to have a sense of emptiness because of it. When all the stripping took place, I felt a degree of loss that took place within me. I didn’t realize, until it was taken, that ministry was becoming an idol, in that my life was marked by it because I was consumed by it. When ministry was altered in a way that ceased much activity, I was depressed for a week.
I’m grateful that this happened because I can put to death the ‘ministry idol’ that was slowly creeping into my life. For you, it could be sports, specific relationships, or certain comforts. While none of these things mentioned are bad things, in and of themselves, they are a danger when they have too much emphasis in ones life.
3. Unearthing old habits
The image I immediately get is that of a large sturdy tree. The seed was not supposed to be planted, but, over time, it became a huge, unwanted tree. However, circumstances led to this undesirable tree to be uprooted from the bottom. Its roots were exposed as the toppling of the tree gave way to its demise. While God has been calling us back to Him, the stripping is more than simply circumstantial… He wants to rid us of the fleshly, destructive, and unspiritual habits that we’ve had for a long, long time. 2 Corinthians 5:17 speaks volumes on this: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Many times, we do not realize the power of our past and how it has shaped us. The environment in which we were brought up, negative circumstances that conditioned our worldview, and the lack of care we didn’t receive in a certain area, all can taint our view of God and how we relate to others.
Thankfully, God cares too much for us to leave us the same! I’ve heard quite a few testimonies of the Holy Spirit’s working power in revealing these unwanted roots and removing them in Jesus’ Name.
4. A New thing
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:19
I’ve talked about this in length with a vision of a fruit tree (This tree is a positive one!) I had in my blog “Shaken” https://nathancherney.com/shaken/. The removal of the old allows the new to form – from desires, that were long forgotten about, to a newly founded passion, to a repositioning of perspective – the possibilities are endless in what the Holy Spirit is doing in your life! What is the ‘new’ He is doing in you during this time?
5. An Awakening
I was brought back to a vision I had last year about the Body of Christ who was likened to a sleeping giant. See https://nathancherney.com/wake-up/. This is a time to fulfill that which was given in that vision – to see the Body of Christ rise up, shaking off the slumber… the apathy, the laziness, and the lack of passion, that had plagued us for so long. It’s time to wake up!
Living in California, I’ve experienced my fair share of earthquakes in the middle of the night. When the ground is shaking, you are awakened… trust me! Do you not see that this time of shaking is a time for you to rise and run to that what He has been calling you to?
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:14-16
This is the time where He has called you to take your place in the Body of Christ since you are gifted and part of it (1 Corinthians 12:27). A lack of contribution means that the Body is not whole, just as it would be if the eye said to the hand, “I don’t need you!” (1 Corinthians 12:21). We all need each other and it’s time for each Spirit-led Christ follower to take his or her place in it.
6. Preparation for Placement
This may sound similar to “A New Thing”, but I want to shed some light, here, on the difference. Many times, we want the promotion but not the pain it takes to get there. We look at those who have the title, but not realize the trials they went through to get them there! Yet, God is preparing many of you, in this time, to position you in your proper placement.
I touch on this in my blog “Small Beginnings” (https://nathancherney.com/small-beginnings/) looking at the life of Joseph in the Old Testament. Like him, our character needs to be refined to reflect the position God wants to take us. Our current environment is a perfect time to allow the cultivation of the Fruits of the Spirit by the Holy Spirit. Are you eager to get through this time or will you yield to what God wants to do in and through you?
7. Small Acts Go A Long Way
We’ve had a redefinition of what we value… who would have thought toilet paper would make a great gift? Well, it did, since it met a specific need since there was a huge lack. See (https://nathancherney.com/be-a-blessing/).
This was a wake-up call for me in that a small act of kindness can make a big impact. Instead of competing with the world’s standards, by having everything be ‘bigger and better’ to get people’s attention, a personal touch means so much more in the lockdown environment. We cannot forget that people are relationally starved and a note of encouragement, or a phone call, speaks volumes. What better way to have the light of Christ shine through us than with a simple gesture of His love? Remember, it’s “God’s kindness [that] is intended to lead you to repentance.” – Romans 2:4
As you have noticed, I have written about much of what has been stated in previous blogs, since I want to be on the forefront of what the Spirit is doing. I hope that, if you have not read the links to the previous blogs, you do so to provide youself with a fuller sense of what I believe the Lord is doing.
I encourage you to read through these 7 points and see where God has been moving in your life. Are there points that relate directly to where you are at since stay-at-home orders were initiated? Are there points that you didn’t realize that the Lord is working through you? I would love to hear your feedback about what the Holy Spirit has done, and is doing, in you as an encouragement for each one of us. Remember, God is not finished with you yet and He is going to continue teaching you, and me, lessons along away. Let’s be faithful to what He is showing us and yield to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives.
Have a blessed week!