We have so much stimuli coming at us from so many directions. Even in the midst of a pandemic it continues in a variety of ways alongside a time of being shuttered in our homes with more potential quiet and stillness as we watch from our closed-in places while the world upends itself.
In the midst of a devotional time as I was considering these things the thought came to consider what is happening behind what is preoccupying us. What is going on behind the scene that is playing out and blocking a more accurate complete view? That is likely the more important story that we must not miss if we are to be radical in our lives as believers.
I have heard more than a few refer to this time as an upending, chaotic, confusing, and disorienting time (along with many other descriptors). They all fit, but there are two other words that come to mind as well – roiling (not a word I commonly use) and reeling. I needed to look at the definition to consider what the Lord might be nudging me to consider.
Reeling is not simply a dance form, or something connected with fishing, but there is a connection to those definitions. Reeling is described as “to pull or draw by winding a line or reel” or to do so “without pause, continuously.”
The definition of roiling felt even more significant – “to render turbid by stirring up sediment, to disturb or disquiet; irritate; vex.”
It can be too easy if we are watching avidly or casually the many news reports about what we can and cannot do, what the numbers look like, how much the curve flattens, etc., to have these things consume us even if we see the impact on the world beyond the illness itself.
If we are radical, we must be careful to discern when our silence becomes stagnant apathy and we miss the bigger picture unfolding before our eyes and instead of despairing take greater hope for what it portends. There is truly a time to be silent and a time to speak and in this I am not referring to protests or the like because our lives have been scrunched into less life than we were living a few months ago.
Over and over again scripture calls us to be watching and watchmen on the wall and I don’t think it is talking about the latest headlines or health department figures. We are being called to watch, pay attention to, and discern the spiritual unseen world around us that is winding up for what biblical prophets point to.
Their words written so many centuries ago tell us that there will be this kind of reeling and roiling. Behind the pandemic so many other things are being stirred up (sediment brought to the surface) that leave us agitated and off balance. Our focus can take us down rabbit trails leaving hope eroded and missing the promises of the signs of the times the prophets and Jesus also noted in his ministry on earth.
Is it possible that the roiling and reeling is serving a purpose not just of evil dark forces at work, but also to awaken us to the earth’s condition and our own as well?
Is it possible as we spend more time trying to listen that our response to what we hear should not be silence but speaking about the hope we have beyond whether a vaccine is found, or the right medications are found to eradicate the virus?
Should we be less focused on what man is doing or not doing, pointing fingers of blame or derision, and more focused on warning that a bigger drama is unfolding in our very midst?
As our places of worship are quiet as we rely on virtual attempts to connect, are we missing grappling with questions such as – where is God, what is this all for, or how can this be part of God’s plan as a God of love and goodness?
Have we wrestled with trusting Him even though so much doesn’t make sense and we feel as if we are caught up in some movie whose ending, we fear?
Have we needed rest from the pace of daily life?
Yes, and most of us see that now more clearly than ever.
Have we needed to alter that pace and noise in our lives to learn to listen better?
Yes, without question. But does that mean we huddle in place passively waiting for however the movie ends?
We may not know how this episode ends, but we know about the end of the movie if our foundation is the Lord. If the movie is nearing the end with the climax riveting us to our seats, then we are called to action and must listen for the role each of us is to play in that.
This week I read a quote that refocused me on what radical disciples of Christ must not miss at this moment in time:
“Hope is a response to the future, which has its foundation in the promises of God. It looks at the future as time for the completion of God’s promise. It refuses to extrapolate either desire or anxiety into the future, but instead believes that God’s promise gives the proper content to it. But hope is not a doctrine about the future: it is a grace cultivated in the present, it is a stance in the present that deals with the future.”