This year has presented the Church worldwide with a huge learning curve. We’ve all been asked to change at unprecedented speed and adapt to a new normal that not one of us expected or could have predicted. I believe the worldwide Church has rolled with the punches pretty well. We’re still breathing and still moving forward. Many Churches on the local level have born a heavier weight. When you have 50 people in attendance normally (which, by the way, is the average size of the majority of our Churches around the globe) and you remove 40 of them for pandemic reasons, numbers can reach discouraging levels fast. We’ve all felt the burden of caring for members while not being able to see them, mobilizing members over a predominately digital format and reaching the lost while the community is largely isolated. These burdens leave us exhausted and ready for a post virus world. But before we dream about rushing out of virus season—whenever that ends—let’s take some time to reflect on what we’ve learned.
It is my desire to move to the next season and not have any regrets. That means offering thanks and embracing gratitude for the sudden changes we’ve experienced, the numbers of people who’ve been exposed to the Gospel outside of the norm, those who’ve gone on to Heaven because of this virus and the incredible ways we’ve seen communities come together for good. We are not lost when it comes to reasons to celebrate the grace and mercy we’ve experienced in the last 12 months. I’m concerned if we don’t embrace gratitude and only rush toward a mask-less existence when the vaccine appears that we will lose any ground we’ve gained.
Let me speak to the Church at large for just a moment. What will it take for us to take our eyes off of us and look fully and longingly at our Lord? Suffering is not a new word in His vocabulary. He is well acquainted with change, pain and weighty subjects. Do you believe for a minute that God has stopped displaying His glory just because our world is shaken up a bit? Do you believe that His purpose for us as a Body has been put on pause? Ministry in a vaccinated world will not resume, it will continue. If you have stopped acting as the Church because of the virus, I fear it will be incredibly difficult to somehow restart a ministry mindset among your members and in your community. But if, instead, you are determined to BE the Church, now is the time to offer thanks for a year of challenge and hope for a new year of expanding Kingdom work.
If I could describe my prayer for us right now it would be with the words: holy desperation. What is that? What does it look like? Holy desperation is the point we come to in our walk with God where we can no more take a breath without desiring more than anything else that He would give us more of Himself. It is the hope, not the guarantee that God will, at any moment, show Himself to us again and we will be changed. It is the desire to see Jesus face to face that supersedes any other desire we can imagine. It takes the shape of a thousand different personalities coming together for one purpose: to know God more deeply and experience Him more richly. It looks like the mom being almost late for work because she couldn’t just walk away from her time with God that morning. It looks like the dad shedding tears for his children, praying they will know God sooner than he did and not make the same mistakes. It looks like the grandparent who can’t stop praying for her family day in and day out that they will be more of a temple for the Spirit and less of a circus tent. It looks like the single lady trusting her days to God, her protector and keeper, believing that He has riches for her that she could not have imagined. It looks like the single guy walking in such faith that his shoes won’t hardly stay on his feet for the holy ground that he keeps crossing. Do you get the picture?
Holy desperation is something that we as the Church have forgotten or just missed in the last several generations. We know attendance desperation. We know desperation for more funds or bigger buildings. We understand desperation for better material, different kinds of worship, or a change in preaching style. That desperation is familiar. What is not familiar is a desperation that longs for Him so deeply that we feel like we may not be able to catch our breath if He doesn’t show His face to us. Do you want that? Do you need that? I know I do!
As you enter into December of this trying year will you ask God to make your heart, mind and soul desperate for Him? Not desperate for a vaccine or 2019 normalcy. We must not spend our time looking back. If we want to be ready and effective as a Kingdom entity in 2021 we must begin with a holy desperation. Let’s ask for that attitude and focus and see where we are 12 months from now. No regrets, Church!