I am a movie fanatic! There was a time, not too long ago, that I found myself at the good ole’ AMC 11 in Springfield, Missouri at least once a week. Matter of fact, it was a Marvel marathon consisting of 19 movies (40 hours in the span of a few weeks!!!) that began one of my closest friendships. However, there is one downside to movies… THEY LEAVE OUT DETAILS FROM THE BOOKS! Have you ever heard someone passionately rebuke the newly released film based on their favorite book with those very words? The things that are deemed unimportant in “getting to the point” are left out in the transition from page to screen, but for true fans, there is this deep conviction that not even one moment should be withheld. Why? Because every word, each and every scene, is important in telling the full story.
There are times when I find myself saying, “I just need to get through this, and then we can get back to the story that God was writing”. And the reality is that “this” can be a variety of things from personal struggle or loss, a rainy Monday morning that keeps dragging on, a season full of unknowns, a worldwide pandemic (who would have thought?), and any other situation that leads you to be overwhelmed with that desire to just get it over with. This attitude of the heart causes us to experience the present moment as something deemed unworthy of the big screen. We stop viewing right now as a part of God’s story for our lives, and more specifically, that promise that we were holding onto before the interruption gets set aside for tomorrow, or even worse, altogether forgotten.
I came on staff at Vox in early February and it was a dive into the deep end of student ministry. I was preaching before my first week was over, bringing a group of over 30 students on a weekend retreat within the first month, and seeing momentum build as a fire started burning in the hearts of the middle and high schoolers of VoxYouth. Before our last gathering I held onto these words from the book of Isaiah as a promise for a season of revival amongst our youth:
“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.”
- Isaiah 43:19 ESV
How profound! That in the wilderness, where there is no path to give direction, there will be a way; and that in the desert, devoid of the water needed for life, there will not just be streams but rivers! This is what God was speaking to my heart and over VoxYouth… and then COVID-19 hit home, and social distancing took place, gatherings stopped, and momentum had seemed to cease. This fiery promise of revival seemed to be so far off that it no longer looked like a roaring flame but a tiny spark. I started asking why God would speak this promise right before we were quarantined. Did He not know what was about to happen? The word I was clinging to yesterday became irrelevant to today. It was so easy to view this unexpected time as an interruption to God’s plan, to see it as a detail that does not help much with getting to the end of the story we were living a few months ago. God said He was going to do a new thing but the only new thing I am experiencing is how I decide to cook my eggs today. Yet here is the truth that God spoke to my heart: Jesus is the new thing.
Where our wandering was once aimless as we sought to connect with our creator, Jesus says, “I am THE WAY…” (John 14:6a). As we were parched and searching for anything to quench the thirsts of our soul, “…one of the soldiers pierced [Jesus’] side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and WATER.” (John 19:34b). The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus set in motion the perpetual fulfillment of the promise of a “new thing.” Whether on a rainy Monday morning or during a worldwide pandemic, this promise holds true and not only keeps us in our current state but empowers both the individual believer and the Church to take new ground!
Even though it can be hard to see the connection between the promises of yesterday and the situations of today, be encouraged that God’s plan has not been halted and this season is not removed from the story He is writing for both you and His Church.
Thank you, Jesus, for the completed work of the cross. No matter what today looks like I can cling to your promise for revival both in my heart and in my community. Thank you that I can find hope in your resurrection. Remind me of these things when my heart wanders. Amen.