As the viral crisis bears down on this country, I continue this series. Last week the choice dealt with responding in fear or love. This week, let me start this way. If you listen only to the news, it is easy to move into panic mode. So many social props are being tossed aside or crushed down. But what if you could see this crisis as an unprecedented opportunity? Here’s the coronavirus choice this time: survive or thrive.
Stories from the Great Story
Throughout the great story of the Bible, times of crisis and peril ended up being the very moments when God entered most tangibly. I think of Moses parting of the Red Sea when Pharoah’s army was bearing down on the Israelites (Ex. 14). Or the story of God protecting an innocent Daniel from a horrific death by lions’ teeth (Dan. 6). Then there is Paul singing in prison after being beaten for speaking about Jesus, only to have God rescue him by an earthquake (Acts 16:16-40). This list goes on and on.
There is a bold reversal here. Whatever was meant to harm turned out to be a means of salvation. But the key was the men in these stories: Moses, Daniel, and Paul. They looked to God with overcoming faith, refusing to let circumstances have the last word. Because of their choice to seek God in the crisis, something remarkable happened. They didn’t survive. They thrived.
We have that same choice today. We can let this situation rule our inner lives, or we can choose to let God rule them. It’s a choice that will open the door for God to do something utterly remarkable in our lives. Some of us may be busier than ever with this viral crisis, but my conversations with men lead me to believe that many have more margin right now because of self-isolating or working from home. Consider the extra time a gift you have been given to thrive. Here are two ways this can happen.
Enter The Silence
The most obvious way is to use some of that extra time to be still with God in the silence. Silence is not the absence of noise. It’s the fullness of God’s presence. Only in the silence do we stop our inner frenzy and shut out the incessant racket of the world. We stop long enough to hear the quiet whisper of God, who knows us and loves us relentlessly.
As a rule of thumb, men are terrible with silence (by their own admission). There is resistance here, coming from our anxiety. We are afraid of what might come up inside us if we stop that long. Or we fear meeting God and sensing His disappointment or anger at us. But if we press through the resistance, God will open Himself to us and invite us to feel close to Him.
There are many good resources out there to help you enter silence. If you don’t have any, here are two that I have on hand:
- Try the 30-Day Trail Guide Into Manhood. Each day offers a passage from the Bible, some comments by me, and some suggestions for prayer. To download a copy, click here.
- Try the ancient way of reading the Bible, called lectio divina (Latin for sacred reading). It’s simple and versatile. For guidelines, click here to go to a post I wrote about it.
Invest In God’s Dream
Here is a second way to thrive during this crisis: invest in God’s dream. What do I mean? Every one of us has a dream God has put into our hearts, a dream about what He wants us to do to help build His kingdom. That dream lies in our deepest desires, yet it is often hidden, dismissed, or scuttled. To allow the dream to surface will change everything for a man. It will fill him with surging hope. And it will send him on the adventure of a lifetime.
But he will need to spend time investing in that dream. It could be further education or training. Maybe it’s gathering together a new group or starting a new part-time job. Perhaps it’s doing further research or initiating conversations with those who can help. In all of this, a man will be taking little steps to act on the dream. As he does, he will find Jesus leading him, often with surprises along the way.
Use some of the extra time you have now to invest in the dream God has planted in your heart. If you don’t know what that dream is, take the time to start asking. And keep asking until clarity comes. It’s a prayer God always answers.
Let’s move in the opposite direction the world is going. Don’t hunker down to survive. Go out and thrive.
Next week: The Coronavirus Choice—Clinging or Trusting?