Today I stared out my kitchen window for quite some time. It was a quintessential California day in April. Mid-sixties, not a cloud in the sky, with a cool 13MPH breeze coming from the south. As I watched the leaves on the tree outside my window dance with the wind, it was hard to believe that, in the midst of such beauty, we find ourselves in such chaos. I found myself attempting to sift through the countless questions that were swirling around the walls of my mind. Questions I’ve never had to ask before. Questions like; “How long will this COVID-19 season last?” “How do I comfort people in the midst of tragedy?” “What is there to say about a virus that has quite literally ‘shut down’ the globe?” “How do you approach a problem that the world has never seen before?” and the one I just couldn’t shake was “What does God desire from me during this time?”
Honestly, when I grabbed my Bible in the middle of the afternoon, I had a hard time knowing where to turn. I wanted to dive into a story, a moment in time, where people were facing the exact same thing we are facing now. That is, something that we have never faced before with these exact circumstances. And let’s be honest, in moments like this, trustworthy voices are not always easy to find. I think most of us are tired of voices that pacify pain, that run from great tension, and oversimplify in order to have an answer.
So as I held my Bible in my hands and asked God where to turn, it hit me! Who could speak to our moment in time, who had experienced something the world had never faced before, who could offer wisdom instead of attempting to placate reality? Moses.
Moses’ story is overflowing with both miraculous and challenging moments that the world had never experienced before. His people grew up in slavery, he fled his home after committing a public murder, God spoke to him through a burning bush, he took on the most powerful leader in the entire world, he saw 10 plagues change the landscape of an entire empire, he saw a sea split open, he saw his people fall into idolatry, he wandered through the desert for 40 consecutive years, and he and his people literally ate mana provided from heaven…and that’s just to name a few. This man knew something about living in the chaos, and even more impressive, he knew something about remaining faithful.
As I combed through Moses’ story, I found myself looking for how he would have answered the questions I had been asking. Much to my surprise, I stumbled upon a verse in Deuteronomy chapter 30 that grabbed my attention.
“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…”
Upon reading those words, something inside me leapt for joy. Something in my spirit was saying, “This is how you sustain; this is how you navigate through chaos. These are the things you do even when other things go unanswered.”
I find it comforting that these words were said at the end of Moses’ life. At the end of the journey. At the end of countless good times as well as countless hardships, tragedies, and let-downs. It’s as if to say, “Want to remain faithful through it all? Here’s what you do…”
1. Love the Lord your God.
Above all things, give everything you are to loving God. Draw near to Him. Jesus reiterates this in Matthew 22 when He tells the Pharisees to,“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
2. Listen to His Voice.
God desires to speak to us. Jesus tells us that one of the birthrights of a child of God is that we will know his voice (John 10). The key however is that in our loving God and drawing near to Him, we take the time to listen for what he may be gently speaking to our hearts.
3. Hold Fast to Him.
People often lose hope and give up in times of chaos. Moses tells us, from experience, that this is detrimental. His plea is for us to hold on, and not to give up. We’ve come too far, you’ve come too far to give up now.
“…love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.”
Finally, he reminds us that the Lord is our life. Not part of our life, not someone we loosely associate with, but that the Lord is our life and that our life is His.
Nothing challenges our “norms” like chaos, but I would also say that nothing makes us re-align our perspectives like chaos either.
As I looked back out the window in the dim light of the afternoon, I heard many birds singing a song. I closed my eyes, actually listening to them for the first time since I can remember. And in that moment, with our world still in chaos and the stock market down another 900 points, I asked the question I had been asking since the beginning…
“What does God desire from me during this time?”
Here’s the answer. To love him with all that I am, to listen to what He may be saying to me in this season, and to hold fast to Him all the while remembering that He is my life and my life is His.
-Brannon Shortt, Bayside Pastor