Our three-year old granddaughter, Willa, announced to us the other day, “we can’t go outside!” When I asked why, she said, “there’s a fast cheetah out there!” “Oh my,” I gasped, playful, as I stared at the phone screen into her saucer eyes and puckered lips.
“Who told you that?”
“She’s right, there is a Cheetah out there,” I said. “He’s big and really, really fast! But you know who’s bigger and faster than him?”
“Yea,” she said, smiling now. Then she put us under a blanket, and giggled.
We all know the cheetah’s out there, and he’s hungry, and that’s why most of us are staying in lockdown. That’s why in one fell swoop we have lost freedom, autonomy, mobility and all predictability. It has brought us to our knees, and not even the brightest minds, strongest leaders and most prophetic seers have any idea what’s coming next. For now, the cheetah wins.
Yet, the greatest danger of this pandemic is not a disease, but dis-ease. It’s that feeling that creeps into your coffee in the morning, that nothing is right about what’s happening. (Hey, nothing IS right!) It’s an unsettling feeling that comes up from behind to remind you you’re going the wrong way again in the market aisle. You can’t even let the eyes behind the masks see that you’re smiling…sorry!
The sum of all this creates unrest, and it feels ambient, illusive hard to categorize, but real, nonetheless. That’s because the cheetah is not a cute trick to keep kids from squirming in their playrooms. He is faster than all of us. In some places he has the upper hand, and in others he’s waiting to pounce. How do we find the place Jesus welcomed us to in Matthew 11 when he said, “Come to me, all who toil and are burdened, and I will give you rest?”
Ask Him for the reasons for. When we get a hint for what is on God’s heart, we can rest in his strength. I heard a quote this week that said, “God is putting things together to give us a window for some open people who know what the window is open for.” Read that again. Could it be that God is getting his body ready for something everyone prays for, but that could not have ever happened aside from our present hardships? No nation, city, village or person has ever experienced revival apart from preparation for it. That work often includes what we are seeing in our culture. Devastating loss, crippling uncertainty, loss of freedom and debilitating fear. This is a recipe for a stripping of pride before a sweeping number of hearts begin to seek Him like never before.
Ask Him for rest. Go ahead, get right to the point. Jesus said, we will find rest for our souls under three conditions. We fall under the trainer’s yoke with him, learn of him, and see him as gentle and accommodating. He has been waiting for his church to return to a simple posture of humility. In that place, when we ask for what he promises, he rushes to your heart with the motivation to be still and trust. But we must take the first step.
Ask Him to reveal. I don’t know anyone in my life, that if I asked how they were doing, honestly, could say everything is fine. I’m off my game, as I imagine you are. I’m giving myself and others a ton of grace, but I’m also asking God to reveal in me anything that may hinder what he wants to do in me during this time. God can and will redeem the hours of anxiety, the moments of frustration, the disappoints and losses that seem to never end. Out of our distress, fear, sin and redaction, the Alchemist creates another element, one that speaks to the churches mandate in the world. They will know, by the love we show!
I wonder if the book in heaven, where our names are written, has margins for notations. If so, what will be written about who we are, and what we are becoming during these days of solitary? God has a chance to do a lot of writing, and most likely has already done so. My prayer for you, and myself is that written on those pages, by his tender hand, will be the memory of a new kind of relationship, forged in the quiet place of rest, because we believed that the cheetah didn’t cheat us out of anything. That God gave back more than the fast cheetah could ever take away.