Many years ago, as a result of a much-publicized safety campaign, a slogan was chosen to place at railroad crossings to alert oncoming traffic of an approaching railroad track. The slogan was simple and to the point, but the message was crystal clear. Drivers were told to Stop, Look and Listen. No doubt many lives were saved because of this posted message.
As I write this article, the world is experiencing a massive pandemic unlike anything we have seen in my lifetime. Each day numbers rise of those infected by Covid-19 and no one seems to know when it will end. Scientific researchers are working feverishly to find a cure and our dedicated medical professionals are working around-the-clock to save as many lives as possible. I, like so many others, am praying for divine intervention. We know God is able to move and give us an “only God could have done it” ending to this crisis.
But as I pray, I keep sensing there is something God is wanting to do before it all goes away. (I’m not saying God has caused this crisis, but He is certainly working through it.) I’m sure I don’t know the full extent of it, but I believe He is working through this trial of fire with the intent of bringing us out as pure gold. He is speaking and revelation is coming to those who are listening. The foundation of every realm of our society is being shaken but I am confident the result will be the discovery of things that cannot be shaken. This is a challenging time, no doubt, but it could be a pivotal point in history if we will allow the plan of God to have its full effect.
As I sit in my home during this time of quarantine, my mind is being drawn back to a childhood memory of that railroad crossing sign. Those three words of warning are being illuminated in my spirit and I sense God is speaking to me. It just could be that simple sign from a long time ago could be direction for our present situation.
STOP! A few weeks ago, our world totally changed. It’s like we went to bed one night and woke up the next morning in a totally different time. The way we were used to doing business couldn’t be done anymore. We’ve been forced to find new ways to do just about everything – work, education, church… It’s unbelievable!
I am especially encouraged, however, by the way the church has rallied to ensure the work and message of Jesus Christ continues to be communicated. As a matter of fact, more people are receiving the message today than at any other time in history! The church has, indeed, left the building and is being deployed across the globe.
But here is my concern – we must not use this time to simply find new ways to do what we have always done. The familiar may need to be our short-term response but we cannot settle there. This is the season to expand our borders and go where we’ve dreamed about going but could never quite reach. This will not happen while we are speeding down the much-traveled highway of the expected. It will only come to those who are willing to slow down and take some time to get into His presence.
If we will stop long enough, we will find the Holy Spirit is wanting to do a fresh, new thing in His church. The new wine of the Spirit is being made available to those desiring it. We must not let the “busyness” of continuation keep us from receiving this blessing.
LOOK! Several years ago, I drove a van full of fellow ministers to a conference. One of my friends who was an avid outdoorsman sat in the middle seat directly behind me and leaned forward to talk throughout the entire trip. Our discussions were non-stop about a variety of subjects. As we would be waxing warm on some topic, my friend would quickly insert, “Look, there is a hawk on that highline wire!” I would look and, sure enough, I would see that beautiful bird. We would continue our conversation when suddenly my friend would say, “Look, there is a deer out in that field.” I would look and, sure enough, I would see the deer. This kind of interruption happened many times as we traveled and talked that day.
As much time as I spent driving every week, I rarely saw God’s beautiful creation the way I did that day travelling with my friend. He seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to spotting wildlife. Then it hit me – my friend loved and spent a lot of time in the outdoors. He had trained his eyes to see what I usually missed. Regardless of what was going on, part of him was tuned in to spot what he truly enjoyed. Then the life-lesson came – you usually see what you are looking for!
I have tried to apply this lesson throughout my life as I’ve approached various situations. I believe it is especially applicable to where we find ourselves in the church right now. We need spiritual eyes that are open to see what the Holy Spirit is wanting to show us.
We have got to look past the clutter that usually dominates our attention. We’ve got to see the ripened harvest that we have not yet touched. We’ve got to see the laborers God has called but we have not yet noticed. We have got to see the opportunities that heretofore we have not even considered. We have got to see what the carnal mind misses and only the spiritually attuned and sensitive eyes can behold.
LISTEN! A lot of different voices are speaking today. The media, politicians and experts in all shapes and sizes are giving us their opinion and influencing our thinking. The noise is deafening and, quite frankly, alarming. Whereas we should not be ignorant of events and we need good information to make sound decisions, I’m afraid much of what we are hearing is more fear-driven than it is faith-driven. Not all voices deserve our attention.
In the process of sifting through the many voices in my ear right now, I seem to be hearing a still small voice asking a question that deserves an answer, “What is the Spirit saying to the church?” I have no doubt He is speaking and what He is saying needs to be heard. I don’t want to assume I know what it is. My assumption is probably clouded by my heritage and experience. I don’t want to miss this divine revelation because I think I already know. I owe it to myself and those I serve to listen to the One who is all-knowing and has a plan already devised for my victory.
In the mid 80’s I lived in a city with a General Motors Assembly plant. It was announced one day a decision had been made to discontinue production of the vehicle being built at that particular plant. A new vehicle model would begin production in a few months but in the meantime the plant would be closed. It was being closed for RETOOLING. The tools and processes needed to build the old car would not work for the new one. It would take a little while to make the necessary changes, but once they were made, the plant would reopen to maximum capacity and a new exciting model of vehicle would begin production.
Could it be…could it be this is what the church is experiencing right now? Could it be the message that has been preached all my life about a last day revival and a massive ingathering of the harvest is about to happen? Could it be the tools and processes that have brought us to this place will not be the same ones needed in this new season? Could it be God is giving us an opportunity to evaluate and fix; evaluate and shore-up or evaluate and change? Could it be this is our time to reset? Could it be…could it be?
I think I can say with a true sense of certainty, when this pandemic ends (and it will) our world will look a lot different than it did before this whole thing started. This prediction is not intended to be gloomy and negative. As a matter of fact, I’ve never been more excited about my future and ministry than I am right now! I have lived for this moment – I get to be part of a great spiritual outpouring! I don’t want to miss it. I have chosen to use this time to prepare my heart and allow God to work in me. My heart cries out, “Here am I, Lord. Send me.”
I challenge you to get ready for something truly spectacular in your life and ministry! Refuse to let fear have a place in your heart. Remember to whom you belong and know He has called you to the Kingdom for such a time as this. Don’t get comfortable though…don’t settle. God wants to do something fresh in you. He wants to take you where you’ve never been. It’s time for those God-dreams to come true. It is your time! This will all become clear if you are willing to Stop, Look and Listen.