It feels like lockdown has been going on forever. Many times I’ve asked the Lord what His purposes are, but from the start have had the sense that He was going to use this unprecedented situation to do a deep work in the hearts of this nation, and that it would end as soon as this ‘work’ was done. Which led me to ask the Lord to do a work in my heart, that I wouldn’t miss the purposes of this season. I’m usually quite a busy person with one thing or another, but I was overwhelmed with this sense of having the gift of time. Life had been stripped back and what was I going to do with this gift? I desperately didn’t want to waste it.
Back at the end of March I started to have a real burden for prayer. So I decided to journal it. As I journaled two other words kept coming to my mind; worship and trust. So I journaled them too. At the time I don’t know if I would have said with certainty that it was the Lord speaking to me about these 3 things, but with hindsight I am sure it was. These three things have been anchor points through this season and served as a focus, so I’d like to share a little about each of them now.
As I pondered these words – prayer, worship and trust – many things went through my head. Firstly, as I thought about prayer, I recalled how when my husband and I were in Zambia we’d pray and we’d see God answer, but now we’re back in the UK, and have been for 4 years, and it’s just not the same. So I started to pour out my frustrations about this thing and that thing and the Holy Spirit whispered into my rant about my need to repent and forgive. I don’t know why I didn’t do it right away, but I decided the next morning would be the time. It was most strange, the next morning I woke up with a kind of excitement that I was going to spend time repenting and forgiving people. It’s quite strange really, I don’t think I’ve felt that way at the prospect of repenting and forgiving people before. I don’t know how long I sat before the Lord that morning, but it was painful. Things I’d brushed off saying that ‘they didn’t matter’ had actually cut deeply and impacted me in ways I didn’t really realise, and so I was carrying round all this baggage. Some of my attitudes and responses stunk and yet I’d been completely oblivious, until the Lord, in His grace, showed me. I’m still very much a work in progress, but through that process on that morning, the Lord broke something in me and consequently injected fresh breath into my prayer life.
Lack of forgiveness and repentance is a real barrier in our walk with the Lord. Sometimes we can be unaware of what we’re carrying and other times we choose to ignore the Lord’s promptings for us to deal with things in our lives. The Lord is gracious to us. But I want to encourage you that if there are things in your life you know you need to address, then do it, don’t waste anymore time. Maybe you feel pretty alright, but are you willing to ask the Lord to search your heart?
David knew how important our thoughts and motivations are. In Psalm 139 he points out how well God knows us and in verse 23-24 says:
You should dare to pray like David! Get down on your knees and ask God to search your heart…Allow the truth of 1 John 1:9 to guide you and allow the Lord to make you more like Him. Being pruned is painful, but in the long run you will bear more fruit. And I think this is key to a vibrant prayer life.
When it comes to the second word – worship – I guess it’s fairly obvious that it would be effected by having to live in isolation or socially distance ourselves. Worshipping together with others is so important. But we cant just wait until this season passes to begin to worship again. It’s made me realise how much I miss congregational worship and how significant it really is. I’ve also missed worshipping on my own – I never have the house to myself anymore! I used to quite enjoy whacking on some worship music and singing and prancing around, it’s not quite the same with an audience! But again it’s something I still think is vital to our walk with the Lord. I don’t know about you, but mostly I’m tired of online church. I think worship is a big part of this. Youtube just isn’t the same. I long to stand shoulder to shoulder in a sea of voices declaring our praise. But alas, it’s not time yet. My word ‘worship’ has served as a reminder of how important it is. Not only is worshipping together important, but it’s also vitally important to carve out time and space to worship in this season. One thing I have really enjoyed is worshipping as a family. Singing worship together as part of our daily devotions, and also at other times I’ve enjoyed singing and dancing together. This is one thing from this season I don’t want to change.
The third word I pondered was ‘trust’. It’s been a rumbling undercurrent through this season in various ways. Trusting God can look like many different things in many different situations, but in just this past week I was reminded how God can take our fear and when we trust Him, He replaces it with peace. When the world around us is screaming things at us which could cause us to fear, we need to choose to trust completely in the One who knows all things, and let Him give us His peace.
How has God been speaking to you through lockdown? God is a God who loves to speak with His children. Are you listening?