Yesterday I was down at the beach with some friends. The tide was higher than usual. The waves were messy. The wind was blowing. There was a flag pole half submerged in the sea, looking pretty scruffy and wind torn. A bit like how I was feeling.
The day before yesterday we got news the worst cyclone in New Zealand’s history is on its way – and this, only days after the worst flood Auckland and parts of the north island have experienced in history. People have lost their homes, supermarkets regularly have empty shelves, food can be twice the price in some instances and schools are being closed with increasing regularity.
Yesterday gang warfare was being promoted in the Waikato and celebrated by people without a conscience. The day before Turkey and Syria had a devastating earthquake and suddenly facing a future they could never have predicted. Ukraine and Russia are still at war; America’s imploding on its own secrets; China’s pushing all boundaries; the church is seen as useless and insipid and worldwide, is beginning to experience the great falling away the bible predicted. Life has become unpredictable; internal pressures build… and yet… I don't need to be wind torn and defeated like the flagpole half submerged in the heaving swell of an oncoming storm.
If all these signs are around me and I believe the bible, I know not to be surprised, frustrated or fearful. I know these things must take place before Christ returns because these events will bring many more to Him. God is ensuring everybody makes a decision whether or not to recognise Him as Lord. The bible is clear there will be calamity in the last days but there will also be a great outpouring of His Spirit like the world has never seen because people’s hearts will be seeking Him again. So be excited!
Last April, as our whole world continued to experience different types of the same kind of yesterdays, I sensed the Lord say, not just to me but everyone who believes in His sovereignty and power, ‘I can make you fruitful still in this time, and cause you to prosper simply by my hand if you are faithful and carry a constant, contrite heart, repentant, delighting in me, drawing from me, looking only to me. More is coming to the earth but it is I who am the Lord of all the earth; no matter the destruction going on around you – if you follow me in humility and understanding, you will know my deliverance from the same effects. I am the Lord who saves you – don’t be caught up in what’s going on around you. I can do amazing things – unnatural in your eyes but natural to me! I am above all that goes on around you. I intend to lift you up and carry you above it all. I can lift you up and carry you above it all. I will lift you up and carry you above it all. If you are faithful in all of your ways and remain pure in heart.’
In the book of Joel I read:
Joel 1:2 … Has anything like this ever happened in your days…?
Joel 2:12 “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart…” Rend your heart and not your garments…. He is gracious and compassionate.
In the face of chaos, the only effective response is to call on God and seek Him.
Joel :17 … Let them say, “spare your people, Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn… Why should they say among the peoples, ‘where is their God?’”
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death; but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
More is coming, but God governs on His throne and is greater than the calamity around us. Those whose minds are fixed on Him will have great peace. Anxiety is not peace. Worry is not peace. Being pessimistic or critical is not peace.
We might ask, if God governs, how can such chaos be happening to the earth?
We can learn some things in Ezekiel 44:10-19. Priests were called to minister before the Lord in His sanctuary. The Levites were the priestly tribe who had been chosen to serve in this way. But many were following other idols and leading the people astray. They no longer looked to God but to whatever else they wanted to. Their hearts were hardened against God. They didn’t want His righteousness. They wanted to rebel. They wanted to rule themselves. Those priests who sinned in that way were no longer eligible to serve in the sanctuary before the Lord. They were relegated to the gates and the slaughter house. They couldn’t demand to serve before God in His sanctuary and still live the way they felt like.
All Levites had been called to serve before the Lord but some had taken this as a right. The priests who were allowed to minister before the Lord and come near Him were the ones who were intent on guarding the sanctuary. They understood being near God’s righteous holiness meant a lifestyle response of the same. They were the ones who were preserved. Even though they received a calling, it was still a gift.
As we learn to live in the extremes of this current climate, we are called to be faithful weather watchers. Guarding the sanctuary is a consecrated designation.
In the eye of the storm is perfect peace and quiet. Guarding that place as the sanctuary of the Lord and recognising His sovereignty rather than questioning it, is where we find rest amidst the disorder.
Just as the Lord showed His people what was coming and what to do through the prophets in the old testament, He shows us too. He warns us, and gives us opportunities to prepare and be ready. His Holy Spirit speaks to us today; He is not silent.
The Holy Spirit was sent for us as a Counsellor and Helper. He cuts a pathway for us from the Lord’s own hand to walk on. Even when debris is washed up around us, the Lord can show us where to place our feet. Be assured of His provision. The Lord wants us to walk in confidence and be unshakable; not let ourselves become overwhelmed.
He still calls us to help those in need, not hold on to our own provision. He still calls us to reach out and step out, as Jesus did, not stay hiding in our houses. It strikes me – Jesus didn’t even have a house. He lived outside, amongst the people and the noise. He was approachable and present.
Scripture has been preserved for us to know, so that we will be preserved, and through us, other people will be preserved. What is weather watching all about, if not for preservation?