The Gift None of us Asked For

I recently heard Mark Sayers say, “When a tide goes out it only does so to build energy so that it can come back in with more force.” He was in the process of doing an illustration that went like this: Hold your breath for as long as you can. Keep holding it…. At some point, everyone had to breathe in again. He said it’s not possible to continually blow out, at some point you have to breathe in again.

What if we are at a moment in history where God is actually preparing us for something great. What if this pandemic is actually the tide going out so it feels like we are on dry land? My friend Mike McDaniel made this profound statement the other day when quoting Matthew 7:7–11. In this Jesus says, “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will you Father who is in heave give good things to those who ask him!” Mike said, “What if we all think God is giving us serpents but he’s actually giving us a fish?” That’s a great question!

I think they are both right. Over the last month, I have watched God completely tear apart any sense of security we thought we had. In my city there are three major idols that have captivated our hearts:

1: Comfort

2: Security

3: Health

This virus has shown us that all three of these are pretty elusive. It has also revealed to us that God is still present and wants to bring us in.

In 2020 I started my Bible reading plan over again. I am currently in 2 Kings and one of the things God has brought afresh this year is how he works in communities. In the Old Testament you see this downward spiral of leadership and they all have a commonality. They all have a divided devotion to God or no devotion at all. The phrase, “They did what was right in the eyes of the Lord BUT…” is a common theme. Here’s what you see, God is a jealous God and He wants all of you. He is either Lord of all or He’s not Lord at all.

What if God has put us in this position because He wants us to reset? Maybe he wants to show you that he is enough so that you can live the abundant life (John 10:10). What if God wants you to experience what you were actually created to be?

That’s the good news. Now here’s the bad news:

I recently read a Forbes headline that stated, “Americans are excessively eating, drinking, smoking pot, playing video games, and watching porn while in quarantine.”

As we search for meaning in life we naturally cling to things. Quarantine has a way of isolating us and bad things grow in isolation. So we run. We run to things that over promise and under deliver. When we run there to get our fix, it leaves us empty. Which makes us run back for more. It’s a pretty wicked spiral.

I believe we are at a crossroads. We are standing on dry ground where God has pulled back the waves to reveal our need. Many people are searching right now and their lives hang in the balance. I can’t say this strongly enough, the “fish” that God wants to give you is himself. When the urge comes to reach out for something, reach out for God. He will be there and he will satisfy you. I think God has positioned us here because we won’t know God is all we need until he is all we have. So you have to choose. You have to choose to find him and live or continue to run to the “comforts” Forbes listed above. One leads to life and the other leads to… well, you know.

Do you want to see God do something absolutely amazing in your life and in our community? It is going to start with personal holiness. We have to choose to pursue holiness and when we do we will experience renewal like never before.

I know. I know. I went there. Holiness. But it’s true! God wants you to be somebody so he can do something in your life. To truly live is to live the way you were designed to live. This is one of the reasons Jesus died. When you receive Jesus’ death you become something new (check out 2 Corinthians 5:17). God really does want you to find joy in life and I can tell you from personal experience that there is no greater joy than finding your life in Him.

2020 might just be the best gift none of us asked for. It might be God revealing to us that our “idols” were always just that, idols. They were illusions to the real thing. And now we are in the shadows with a choice to make. Do we run to numb ourselves or do we find freedom in the shadow of his wings?

Today you can choose for yourself who you will serve. Will you serve the living God in the midst of this pandemic or will you run in fear? Freedom is available but you’ve got to breathe in.

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Lead Pastor, City Church. www.citychurchga.com

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