When God said He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), I should’ve known He would use Covid as a case in point.
For some time, I couldn’t see anything good coming out of its aggressive, deadly attack on life itself, or out of our having to face up to the masked restrictions it leaves in its wake (no pun intended). Nor could I see anything beneficial in the monkey wrench it’s thrown into everything pertaining to relationships and commerce. For most of us, mid-Covid life consists of limited contact with family and friends, intentional—seldom frivolous—outings, and social gatherings reduced to almost nil. These continued limitations have forced ministries and outreaches, like my husband’s, to exercise their creative juices in new ways to reach the masses. With Covid lockdown still in force in the prisons, Bill’s contact with inmates has been reduced to sending in his books and, God willing, videos in the near future. For the most part though, it’s been a challenge to keep ministry momentum going.
Ministry for me looks nothing like it did. Prayer ministry has gone from participating in corporate intercessory meetings at our church home, Hope City KC, to praying at home alone. Outside of my blog (which has been a godsend), I’ve felt somewhat isolated, ineffective, stripped down to my ministry skivvies by this whole Covid experience. I know I’m not alone in my Covid blues.
But in the chilly draft of my nakedness, I’ve made a revolutionary discovery . . . and thus, am experiencing something good coming out of it. Without realizing it, my pursuit of the Lord—knowing Him and enjoying Him—had morphed into a pursuit of holiness unto the Lord (Zechariah 14:20). Purity of heart became my focus in life and in ministry. God deserves all of me, so I must do my best to please Him. I must pray more, do more, be better, because after all, Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8). And I most assuredly want to be that person. Which is a legitimate desire—until it lands you smack dab in the middle of your flesh trying to complete what His Spirit began. Galatians 3 calls it being bewitched. O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth . . . Having begun in the Spirit, are you now reaching perfection [by dependence] on the flesh (vs 1–3)? Bewitched is such an ugly, painful word to any serious lover of Jesus. I say painful because there you are—you’re pursuing Jesus with all your heart; it’s all or nothing. When you hear statements like, “How much of Me do you want them to see?”, your heart cries, “All of You, Lord!”.
Then without realizing it, your walk with Christ changed. It became more about you and your pursuit of Him and obedience to Him, while relationship with Him took a back seat.
It dumbfounds me, how despite the Lord’s warnings to beware of the devil’s techniques to get us Christians off course, I didn’t pick up on that until God mercifully brought ministry to a screeching halt (as only He can). Granted, faith if it has no works, is dead, being alone (James 2:17), but works with wrong motives or works not energized by faith and service motivated by love are nothing more than crispy critters the day we stand before the judgment seat of Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 13:1–3).
Might I just add that I don’t take too kindly to the devil trying to lead Christians astray—especially when one of them is yours truly. It’s just not right. But Satan is a master at pulling off such low-down, mean, dirty tricks on God-fearing people. And the LORD is gracious and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy (Psalm 145:8). All I could do was own up to it and get back to the bare bones of loving and being loved by Him.
Paul said, . . . I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (Philippians 3:8–9).
I count all things but loss for the excellency of knowing Him . . . It reminds me of another time in my Christian walk—an entirely different scenario—when God used loss and isolation to draw me to Himself. I was a six-month-old Christian, married to an addicted, out-of-control, drug dealer whose MIA tendencies kept me in emotional turmoil and in constant prayer for his salvation and return home. God so graciously answered those prayers a year and a half later when He brought Bill home, saved and ready to begin repairing the damage.
God’s love met me in that lonely year and a half of waiting. Isolation became His intensive-care unit where I discovered the excellency—the sheer pleasure—of getting to know Him intimately. Just being with Him turned my heartbreak into something good. Those were sacred times.
So, in light of that, I anticipate Him working my (and anyone else’s) Covid blues for good, by drawing me (us) into the sheer and undistracted pleasure of knowing Him.