I’ve noticed through my years of pastoring that God regularly gives me opportunities to practice what I preach or write about. I’m sure He has many gracious purposes for doing so, such as: (1) to remind me that I definitely need the spiritual truths I’m sharing with others and that I haven’t “arrived” yet in automatically applying those truths in my own life; (2) to keep me dependent upon Him for His help in living by His Word; (3) to make me mindful of my own need for deeper sanctification and integrity; (4) to help me empathize with fellow believers who sometimes find it challenging to consistently live out their Christian beliefs; (5) to give me the opportunity to provide others with a decent example of “walking the talk” rather than just “talking a good game.”
Through the present coronavirus circumstances, the Lord is providing a lot of us as Christians with the opportunity to put into practice what we profess to believe. To follow is one significant way He has been doing that in my situation. Perhaps you’ll be able to relate quite closely to my particular circumstances and conclusions. Or perhaps God has been using the current situation to nudge you to apply your Christian beliefs in various other ways. However God is working in our lives through the present circumstances, let’s seek to be attuned and responsive to His promptings.
The last week of last year I posted a blog entitled “Trusting God with Our Unknown Future,” which relates the moving true story of how that particular principle was illustrated in the untimely death of Philip Bliss, a popular nineteenth-century hymn writer. In introducing that narrative I said: “Circumstances surrounding Bliss’s death provide a profound lesson concerning trusting God with our unknown future. May we all be encouraged and enabled to do that with all the unknowns of the New Year to come.”
Then two weeks ago, while my wife Leeta and I were visiting family in Washington State, we were informed that when we returned to Nebraska we would need to self-quarantine in our home for two weeks. When we traveled to Washington State we had no idea that such a restriction would be placed upon us, as such precautionary measures had not yet been put in place or even hinted at by officials. At first I was quite frustrated by that development as both of us were in good health, and the likelihood of our contracting coronavirus as we traveled (while using commonsense precautions) seemed to me very low. In addition, being quarantined would curtail our accustomed freedoms to be out and about and to actively carry out our normal public ministries and other social activities of life. We returned home the day U.S. Government and healthcare officials announced the more restrictive recommendations regarding social distancing and the size of social gatherings (ten or less) that have impacted our country, communities and individual lives in such dramatic ways.
The Lord soon reminded me that not many weeks ago I had written about trusting Him in such unforeseen, undesirable developments of life. Here was a chance for me to put into practice the very truth I had admired in the example of Philip Bliss and had recommended to others as being worthy of emulation.
God’s Spirit also rather quickly reminded me that to remain frustrated with God’s sovereign ordering of the present confining circumstances in my life would not honor or please Him. Just as He does not want me to dishonor Him by worrying about my present and future concerns, so He would not have me to dishonor Him by continuing to be upset about them.
I’m additionally mindful that countless thousands of people are facing much greater challenges and difficulties (some of them extremely serious or even grave) than I am from the coronavirus situation. And far beyond coronavirus, untold millions of people around the globe are experiencing all kinds of very difficult, even dire circumstances from a whole host of other trials and tribulations – war, persecution, disease, poverty, natural disasters, traumatic relationships, etc. Countless people will continue to live with unremitting and, in some cases, unspeakable hardships long after the current coronavirus situation has run its course. Remembering such facts definitely helps us keep in proper perspective our own (often lesser) inconveniences and hardships of life.
As shared in my earlier blog concerning Philip Bliss, one of the hymns that was sung at the funeral of he and his wife Lucy after their premature deaths in a tragic train wreck was entitled “He Knows.” The lyrics were written by Mary Brainard, and Bliss had just set them to music. The truths of the song definitely relate to the circumstances many of us find ourselves in at this time:
1. I know not what awaits me, God kindly veils my eyes,
And o’er each step of my onward way He makes new scenes to rise;
And every joy He sends me comes A sweet and glad surprise.
Where He may lead I’ll follow, My trust in Him repose;
And every hour in perfect peace, I’ll sing, “He knows, He Knows”;
And every hour in perfect peace, I’ll sing, “He knows, He knows.”
2. One step I see before me, ’Tis all I need to see,
The light of heaven more brightly shines When earth’s illusions flee;
And sweetly through the silence comes, His loving, “Trust in Me!”
3. Oh, blissful lack of wisdom, ’Tis blessed not to know;
He holds me with His own right hand, And will not let me go,
And lulls my troubled soul to rest in Him who loves me so.
4. So on I go not knowing; I would not if I might;
I’d rather walk in the dark with God Than go alone in the light;
I’d rather walk by faith with Him Than go alone by sight.
Mike Strand, a worship pastor in Colorado, recently reset this hymn to new music. In the attachment to follow you can listen to Mike’s presentation of the song which was made at a recent conference. I think your heart will be blessed by the beautiful musical presentation of this significant hymn.
Download it here: MP3 Link.
By the way, as of the day I’m writing this blog Leeta and I are halfway through our two-week home quarantine. So far we’ve not had any symptoms of illness, for which we praise the Lord. And we’re grateful we’ve been able to continue ministering and working from home. We’ve also enjoyed our extra time together. We realize that many have not been so fortunate.
Copyright 2020 by Vance E. Christie