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UNDERSTANDING THE TIMES

UNDERSTANDING THE TIMES

Indeed from day to day, people kept coming to David to help him, until there was a great army, like an army of God…[the tribe] Of Issachar, those who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, two hundred chiefs, and all their kindred under their command.
1 Chronicles 12:22, 32

“What are you learning about yourself during these days of self-quarantine?” “What changes will you then make from what you are learning?”

Those two questions were posed to me recently by a wise friend, and have really got me thinking. How about you? How would you answer? What have you learned about yourself and what changes do you want to make?

We are living big history about which coming generations will talk about, write, and wonder. Call this time what you will — a pivotal moment, a sea change, quantum leap, upheaval, break with the past, or fork in the road — it will take each of us time to grasp the meaning of what we are going through. We might aspire to be like that “army of God” in ancient Israel, “Of Issachar, those who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

Yes! What ought we to do as individuals, families, churches, ministries, businesses, and communities? When life is going well we seldom give anything a second thought. Then a virus slams us and we start asking questions about ourselves and about life. We are being awakened to our frailties and limits of understanding. Who could have predicted this pandemic? Who knows how it started? Who knows how to stop it? Who knows how to restart the world, the economy? Why can’t we control this?

Hopefully more than ever, Christians will feel compelled to listen to God for direction. We can’t make it alone! It is significant that the Latin verb obaudier, “to listen,” is the origin of our English word “obedience”. In a profound way, listening to God in the coming days will be essential for our obedience to Him in our calling.

Again and again Scripture admonishes and encourages us to seek God’s concrete will for our everyday walk and behavior. God can and will give us direction for the enormous challenges we face. God has promised! He will show us what will be the practical implications of the “new normal”. We will have new experiences of our Savior’s promise: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20) I am emboldened for what lies ahead by the words of the 20th century theologian Klaus Bockmuehl:

“The early believers who lived the Christian life and spread the Gospel of God’s Kingdom lived under orders. Their work for God was not self-designed…These early disciples were careful not to do the planning for their Lord. We all love to make plans (much more than to work for their implementation!), and we often try to do so concerning the affairs of God. The Book of Acts makes clear that planning expressly falls under the department and competence of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit does not leave the pursuit of Christ’s Great Commission, to make disciples of all nations, to human enthusiasm or rational calculation…We witness an extraordinary strategy at work, but it is the strategy of the Holy Spirit, not of human skill.”

(Klaus Bockmuehl, Listening to the God Who Speaks)

I sense the Holy Spirit beginning to speak to me in how I am answering my friend’s two questions. How about you? “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).

A Fellow Traveler,
Tim

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