Back to the Future

Special thanks to Dr. A.R. Bernard for sharing his wisdom & insights on how we are to perceive this current reality.

As we begin to emerge from many weeks of quarantines and figure out how to embrace the new normal, no one knows exactly what our lives will look like or what to expect. In this ongoing process, we can find encouragement in the words of the prophet Isaiah, when he was speaking to the nation of Israel at a time when they were traumatized by seeing what was happening to their nation.

In Chapter 43, Isaiah announces that what God is about to do is greater than what they witnessed in their past:

      18 “Remember not the former things,
      nor consider the things of old.
      19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
      now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

It’s so important how we perceive what God is doing right now. It’s easy to focus on the devastation around us, but as people of faith, we know there’s something bigger at play, and we’re trying to discern it. Where is this going? What is the ultimate outcome? And is there a silver lining?

      19 I will make a way in the wilderness
      and rivers in the desert.
      20 The wild beasts will honor me,
      the jackals and the ostriches,
      for I give water in the wilderness,
      rivers in the desert,
      to give drink to my chosen people

The metaphors Isaiah uses are not only beautiful but instructional as well:

  • Making a way in the wilderness, where there’s no clear path forward
  • Creating rivers in the desert, where there is no natural relief for refreshment, God will provide it
  • Honor and respect from the wild beasts, the things that may threaten you in this time of wandering and waiting

God is certainly doing a new thing in the world around us, but also within us – a revival of sorts. A God-inspired revival is an invitation to re-awaken our passion, fervor and creativity towards purpose. We see that happening in secular and sacred institutions, whether they are houses of worship, religious organizations or philanthropic organizations. We are all being forced to be creative, more passionate and more focused as to what our purpose is here on Earth. That indeed is revival.

When God-inspired revival comes, it manifests itself in a renewal throughout society. It begins with personal renewal, where we begin to re-evaluate our own personal life and priorities.

Then we look at relational renewal, where we think about the people in our spaces, the priority of relationships and what these relationships mean. Do they add or do they take away?

We think about renewal of purpose, where we begin to examine what our passion is, what our vocation is, our calling sense of calling, our occupation, and how it all relates to our sense of mission. We begin to re-evaluate all of these things.

And then we consider structural renewal. Personally, how is our life arranged? Because however we arrange our life creates a rhythm that establishes a pattern. Is that a good pattern for life? Is it giving us the quality of life and value and spirituality that we want? We may need to go back and restructure some things. We think of the systems and processes that are at work in our lives. And what is true personally is also true in terms of ministry, organizationally and within our social systems.

All of this leads to the final manifestation, which is a cultural renewal where society begins to reconsider its values, beliefs, policies, systems and structures.

The opportunity for revival on a personal and collective level fills us with hope for what God is doing in, through and around us. As the Church, we can unite in action and prayer to emerge out of this pandemic more focused, more efficient and more effective.

Join us in celebrating and praising God that we get to be a part of that future.