A Much-Needed Shaking!

How should we be interpreting what God is up to throughout this pandemic?

What are you doing, Lord? Why have you allowed this inconvenient interruption? What is this all about?

I have to believe that a massive global disruption such as the one we are facing at present must be serving a higher unseen purpose. It has been my experience that God often uses disruption to surface what is really going on in our hearts.

So, if God uses disruption to address things in our hearts, it’s only reasonable to ask why?

I believe it’s because Father God is trying to recapture our hearts!

God is constantly pursuing our hearts, trying to get our attention. He is always disrupting, rescuing, redeeming and restoring the hearts of His children… and with a disruption of this size… well, God has certainly got our attention now! Let’s face it, everyone on the planet has been disrupted by this virus. God has finally got us asking some very important and needed questions.

I think at least part of the “Why Lord?” question can be answered from Hebrews 12:26-29: (italics mine): -

26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’[e27 The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken – that is, created things – so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe… 

I believe God is using this pandemic to shake us!

When God shakes us, He wants to remove what can be shaken – that is, created things (idols), so only what cannot be shaken may remain.

A wise Rabbi once stated: “Faith like Job’s cannot be shaken; because it is the result of having been shaken!”.  Real faith can never truly be established without having first undergone some kind of shaking.

You see, when our ‘normal’ has been stripped from us like in this present season, that kind of ‘shaking’ reveals how self-focused we have become. It reveals things in our hearts that may need to be shaken out.

I had a water-skiing accident quite a few years back, where I tore my hamstring badly. It was a Grade 3 tear and it took something like seven or eight weeks to completely heal. It robbed me of my ability to ride my bike over summer, which meant I lost all the cycling fitness that I’d built up. I couldn’t do any exercise, I couldn’t get outside, nor could I enjoy the outdoors. The hamstring tear occurred right at the start of the Christmas break, so I lost two months of the year’s best weather. All I did was whinge and limp about. I wasn’t fun to be around. But that ‘disruption’ revealed a deeper layer of selfishness and self-focus that God wanted to dismantle in me. By the end of that summer, there were a few apologies that needed to be offered to those closest to me.

Disruption reveals what is really in our hearts.

Allow me to ask… What has this pandemic revealed about your heart in this period?

Sit with that question for a minute …

How anxious have we become and how stressed have we been? When Jesus says, “do not worry about tomorrow” (Matthew 6) - how successful have we been at trusting Him for the future during this season?

I wonder how many of us have turned to other comforters during this pandemic?

Alcohol sales have skyrocketed according to sales figures.

Paul Ninnes from ‘Real Talk Australia’ (a Christian organisation bringing positive input into Australian schools via its programs on sex, relationships and personal identity) stated that sadly, pornography websites were also registering some of their highest visits during the lockdown period.

Disruption and shaking reveals what is really in our hearts!

If I look around and assess the world I live in, it appears we have lost a great deal of our dependence on God. Honestly, I think we sometimes find more comfort on our devices in this ‘smartphone’ world, even to the degree that I wonder how much we really need God these days?

Think about it… we can book a plane flight from anywhere in the world on our mobile phone, and travel whenever and wherever we want! (Or at least you could a few weeks back!)

You can still order any kind of food and have it delivered to your door within the hour. What would you like? Korean? Indian? Chinese? Thai? Italian? Greek? You name it – it’s yours!

You can go shopping online and any product in the world can be delivered to your home within days (or maybe a few weeks is more realistic at the moment).

Think about our healthcare system. Now you can see a doctor online and have your prescription medicine posted to you without even leaving home! To be truthful, I am very grateful for such services, yet sadly I know I run too easily to a chemist rather than ask Father to heal me. 

What about education? You drop your kids off at school and they are well cared for, but if they must stay at home they can learn online and not miss a beat. Anything can be researched on Google, and university degrees are available online. We are the most educated generation of all time.

Before the pandemic, how often did we feel pressed to pray for God to intervene or help? Why bother, when my smartphone can give me so many other answers or comforts to call upon!

When you compare this ‘age of comfort’, and what it has done to strip away our dependency on God, it could well be that a loving Father needed to disrupt us. 

In the western world, we have become so acclimatised to getting everything we want - when we want it. With this comes a sense of entitlement. We expect to have these comforts, and we want everything to go our way all the time. When something doesn’t go our way - we can get very irritated! Just think about how you respond when your laptop takes more than a minute to start up? Or if the fast food drive-thru line up means you’ll have to sit in your car for an extra three minutes waiting for your take-away order to be completed? Or the person in front of you at the supermarket check-out is taking forever to find their credit card? Can you just feel your level of irritation rising at the thought of those situations? We are not a very patient people.

I’m in a role that doesn’t pay me a big salary – so I have often been guilty of placing more security at times in trying to pay off a home; or in bolstering my superannuation; or in believing the pension will “save” me … more so than a Holy God at times. Forgive me Father.

This pandemic has rocked the economies of the world. No pension fund is safe!

We needed this shake-up!

We have bowed to all these comforting idols in various forms and been completely unaware we’ve been doing it.

Pay attention to this passage from Ezekiel 14:1-7 NIV: (bold font & italics mine):

Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front of me. Then the word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling-blocks before their faces…

I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.” ‘Therefore say to the people of Israel, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!

I believe what the world is facing right now, is a Holy God using this circumstance to ‘recapture’ the hearts of His people! He literally states: “I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people… who have deserted me for their idols” (Vs 5).

In His amazing grace, God is trying to ‘woo’ us away from our idols and draw us back to dependence on Him.

I think as Christians we may have fallen asleep at the wheel. We’ve been enjoying too much Netflix; take-away food and false comforts; all the while whinging, whining, and complaining to God about our circumstance. If we are really honest – we would just like everything to go back to the way it was.

But I am not so sure the Lord is going to allow that to occur.

I think He is preparing us for tougher days that lay ahead as His return draws nearer. Are we ready?

My truthful answer: I don’t feel anywhere near ready!

But I for one, do feel a call to repentance: -

“Father, forgive me for my apathy… my sense of entitlement… forgive me for my worry and anxiety regarding the future… I repent of seeking comfort and security in ‘lesser lovers’ and not running to you, Oh Lord. Awake in me a deep need of You – gently shine your light on my wayward heart – forgive me, and release me from my bondage to the idols I have put my trust in. Allow me to see what it is You are doing in this crucial hour, so I may partner alongside you Father. I do not want to miss the kingdom opportunities you are opening up in this season. Prepare my heart so that I am ready”.

Until next time,