This year in lockdown has been – ‘spiritually speaking’ – a bit like crossing a desert on a camel when we are used to travelling down motorways in cars. By that I mean that our familiar land marks are no longer there, we can no longer take a quick car ride and find others to meet with, and we’ve no idea when we’ll find the next watering hole.
At the beginning of the pandemic, this time last year, I felt that the Lord was intending for us to come through this time stronger and more confident in our faith, and ready for all that the future holds. This was always going to be a stretch because, in addition to not being able to have regular church, fellowship groups and prayer meetings, all our annual gatherings, bible weeks and conventions were just cancelled and not replaced.
In the middle of our desert time however we have still heard the words of Jesus saying, “whoever drinks the water that I give Him will never thirst. Indeed the water that I give him will become in Him a spring of water welling up to eternal life”, and so through this time we have had to find alternative ways of being refreshed and of keeping that spring flowing. Ways I believe that the Lord does not want us to lose the moment ‘lockdown’ ends.
Continuing with the theme of desert, the picture I saw this morning was of a desert scene with an oasis in it, and although this has been for the most part a desert time, for some it has brought a respite for them from some of the business of life. It has in fact been a season when they have been able to take time to reconnect with the Lord. It has brought them back to what is really important, in their walk with Him. They have found an oasis.
To them I believe the Lord is saying “don’t let too much business creep back into your life as things return to normal. Guard your oasis, those special times, that special place that you have had with Me, and build them into your future lifestyle”.
For others, particularly those in front line services, home schooling and working from home, the picture is different. There has not been an oasis in the desert, but they have had to dig fresh wells, to find new ways of tapping into the flow of life from the Lord. It’s been hard, but the Lord saw their thirst and is so pleased that they have found new ways to connect with Him and I believe He is saying to them, “Guard those new wells, keep digging and keep drinking, and don’t let anything in the future stop them up”.
There is a third group, and I think these are those who are just weary with trudging through the desert with no hope of an end to it all. They haven’t found an oasis and feel bad because they have not been able to dig new wells either. If that is you I believe the Lord is saying “I AM here, I AM with you” It’s like that beautiful footprints picture, He has been carrying you even when you didn’t realise it.
He knows how it has been for you, He knows all the challenges that have come your way, physically, emotionally and spiritually and He would say, “Well done, now let us walk together for the last part of the journey”. I believe as you lean into Him you will find that ‘rest to your soul’ that has eluded you so far, and you will come out of this time stronger in a way that is unique to you.
So as we express our gratitude to the Lord for everything that has kept us drinking the water of life this past year, everything that has kept us connected to Him, the fountain of life, let us keep in mind those new ways of finding Him, those new ways of quenching our thirst and let us keep drinking of His love and grace as we move from the desert back into more normal life.