In our second statement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we referenced the “Valley of Vision,” which the Puritans described as the place “where I live in the depth, but see thee in the heights . . . that valley is the place of vision.”
In the midst of COVID-19 we are all facing the sobering imminence of our mortality. This is something we already “knew” but are now experiencing each day.
Our initial inclination is to ask God to give us our lives back, along with an additional request for a return to normalcy. As we wait on him, it becomes apparent that “normalcy” isn’t coming back and, for many of us, the Lord is not interested in giving us our old lives back. He has much bigger, longer lasting plans.
And so, we hear our Good Shepherd speaking to us and realize that his call is to a posture of submission, humble inquiry, confession, and repentance. (James 4:7-10)
This is not something we are to do only in life and death situations (in fact, in light of the wider context of James 4, it’s something we are called to regularly). However, we’re definitely more invested and genuine in these moments. Evidence of this is a prayer from Chinese Christians:
May people think seriously about the meaning of life in the face of a raging epidemic, and then experience the wonderful guidance and transformation from God.
For those of us outside China we have been given advance notice and have learned so much from the example of the church in Wuhan. In an “Urgent Appeal to Chinese Christians for Fasting and Prayer” the “United Prayer Group of Church Pastors in Wuhan” appealed to Chinese Christians for three days of fasting and prayer with the following:
Let’s stand between the dead and the living and repair the breaches from the disaster with our holy prayers…we ask you to lift up holy hands in prayers: to intercede, repent, confess sins, and pray on behalf of Wuhan and China that the plague will stop.
Like our Wuhan brothers and sisters, we want to be in alignment with the Heavenly Father’s will and under the influence of his Holy Spirit as we follow Immanuel.
As C’havala Crawley has written, “This is a time to drop to our knees in humble recognition that we have nothing to offer this problem in ourselves. Only the mercy of God can fix this.” Granting this, she goes on, “The world needs what you will receive from heaven in this time.”
In God’s providence, the ChinaSource team was already in a place of profound transition and change, well before the COVID-19 outbreak and so, we were in the early stages of prayerfully processing the book, The Choice by Gary Hoag, Scott Rodin, and Wesley Wilmer. Our Lord’s hand has been in this. Now, in light of what has become a global pandemic, these writings have taken on a more urgent significance.
The book was commissioned by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), to address “what may be the most important and yet most unexamined presupposition related to ministry today—defining success.”
The authors speak of the three temptations of control, idolatry, and pride, and our response to them by walking either the common path or the kingdom path—“the only path that leads to kingdom outcomes,” while focusing on the marks of a Christ-centered ministry.
We are still walking this path. It is a timely one for us. There are daily lessons followed by steps toward realigning with Christ’s call. When you declare for the kingdom path, everything needs to be on the table. He is ever calling us to a different way that we know is right, but often feels elusive. That’s why it’s been so good to walk this path in community as a team.
We’re truly in a valley of vision, but by no means are we alone. Traveling together with him really lightens the load.
This is a time when so many are in the “Valley of Vision,” taking inventory, listening, seeking, beseeching the Lord, The Choice is a timely resource for any who might be seeking the counsel and encouragement from dear companion pilgrims faithfully, powerfully, welcoming us to the kingdom path.
Rev. Kerry Schottelkorb is the president of ChinaSource. For twenty years Kerry was involved in local church planting and youth ministry, both in the US and Hong Kong. He was the founding pastor of the Cle Elum Alliance Church in Cle Elum, Washington and one of two founding pastors of Evangelical …View Full Bio
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