“We are at war.”
Those words would have stirred similar emotions in the hearts of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents as were stirred in our hearts last night the moment the Prime Minister announced “lockdown.”
Fear. Anxiety. Helplessness. Frustration. Even anger. So many questions, confusion, lack of clarity. Quiet resignation as we brace ourselves for the coming weeks, potentially months. Depending on who we are, we all would have experienced at least one, if not all, of these feelings and internal responses. It’s only natural. We are human, after all.
Yet, as the Church, as disciples and followers of Jesus, what is to be our response in this time? Many sermons around this exact question have been preached in recent weeks by far better communicators than I; so I will not attempt to add to what has already been spoken many times over. I just want to share my own personal thoughts and reflections and hope that they offer some hope and encouragement.
I awoke some time just after 4am this morning, as if something had jolted me awake. Yet there was only silence. And an urge to pray. As I was meant to be up at 5am for my slot in the “Virtual 24-7 Prayer Room” anyway, I answered the call to prayer. As I lay there in the dark praying, I found myself asking God, “I am here, in this nation, at this time. Why? Maybe it is only coincidence. But with You, I think not. So what is my role? What part do You want me to play in this time?”
When I arose, I discovered I had not been alone in my early hours of the morning call to prayer. A number of people across Scotland had awoke around 4am as well with the urge to pray.
So though I am still reflecting on and praying into that question I asked the Father this morning around what He has me for in this time, one thing I am certain of – we are at war.
This is something I have been sensing for a few weeks but was struggling to put words to until last week I heard Mark Sayers of Rebuilders Church talk on a podcast about “wartime leadership.”
But this war is different from most any war we have fought as a global unit. Our frontline army is not made up of those trained to kill, but those trained to protect, care for, save and bring life. Including all those making it possible to feed ourselves and our families in the midst of this.
And I think this is where much of the fear, frustration and anger really come in. We feel helpless. Powerless. Our enemy can not be seen, can not be stopped with bullets or anything the majority of us can understand. And on top of that, our default response of activity and even activism have been stripped from us.
And we are left feeling helpless, vulnerable and lost.
Even for us as the Church, our default response of activity and service in the ways we are used to have been largely stripped from us.
So how do we fight an enemy we can’t see and support an army that the majority of us are not equipped to join?
Paul tells us clearly in Ephesians 6: ‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.’ He goes on to instruct (in The Message ), ‘Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.’
We may not be able to join our NHS or our key workers on the physical frontlines, but we can on the spiritual. And further, I would say that we can even advance “behind enemy lines” when we go in the spiritual.
Friends, we have everything we need to fight this battle – as Paul shows us in Ephesians – in God and in one another.
Never has the time been more appropriate or more urgent that we fulfil the dream and prayer in Jesus’ heart and come together as ONE Church, one Body and fight through prayer and through loving connection, even in the present isolation.
So a whole lot of us have joined hands and are now inviting you to join a Scottish 24/7 army. We have created a Scotland “Virtual” 24-7 Prayer Room where you can “enlist” to join this battle. As well as a “Virtual Creative Wall” on Facebook where we can share encouraging words and stories to “keep each other’s spirits up.”
Will you join us?
Click here for the Virtual Prayer Room sign-up and if possible, put your name and where in Scotland you are praying from.
And click here for the Creative Wall