It was years ago. I remember when the gavel fell on the legislature’s podium. Despite all our efforts to prevent it, my agency became an agency in crisis. It had been split in two. My job was to create a new agency to meet the newly mandated responsibilities, figure out how many staff was needed and what each of their functions would be, and determine what the budget would be for this new organization. In accomplishing that, the management team and I had to unite to lead staff through the fears of the crisis, which meant over 200 people would loose their jobs. We committed to each person facing displacement that we would find and negotiate new positions for them elsewhere. We, by God’s grace and some very long hours, found a place in state government for each person, and accomplished the down sizing without a layoff. I remember at one point feeling a lot like Joseph who was appointed from a nobody in slavery to accomplish an overwhelming and seemingly impossible task. Thankfully, my God specializes in accomplishing the impossible.
The Governor’s Office must have liked how that agency’s crisis was handled as I was then sent to two other agencies to rebuild them following scandals which resulted in more crisis. One of those agencies was on the chopping block to be abolished all together. But the Governor believed in its purpose and wanted it to continue. I was appointed as Director to try and repair the damage. The fact that the agency still exists is testimony to a successful crisis resulting in transformation and renewal. In every case, the crises ended up to be for the better.
This current worldwide crisis is something none of us would have imagined just 4 short months ago. Once again, we face the impossible. The greater part of the world is experiencing a time of isolation and confinement. We are grieving our loss of loved ones, grieving the loss of relationships and companionship, grieving the loss of life as before. The world is crying out. The people, the churches, the world are all being set aside for a time. It’s a very unique shared crisis that we are experiencing. It is a blessed crisis of renewal and transformation.
I’d like to believe I have lived through more than my “fair share” of crises over the years. But even so, I have found myself doing a bit of reflecting recently on all the crises in the Bible. Take Noah and the flood. He built and entered the ark by faith. How his heart must have been crushed to listen to those outside the ark cry in anguish as the water rose. God set them aside through crisis for a period of time resulting in the renewal and transformation of the world (Genesis 6-9). Joseph had the crisis of being sold into slavery and betrayed by his brothers, but his time set aside through the crisis saved nations from famine (Genesis 37-50). Moses was set aside in the wilderness for years. I’m sure he felt it was a crisis when he fled for his life after killing a man (Exodus 2-5). God used the crisis to transform him for returning to confront Pharoah and liberating Israel. Then it was surely a crisis when plague after plague struck Egypt to prepare the way for Israel’s liberation (Exodus 5-12). And surely another crisis when the people of Israel fled Egypt and wandered the desert for 40 years… until God renewed and transformed them into a people worthy of the promised land. Paul was surely in crisis when he struck blind while walking down the road (Acts 9) but God used the crisis to set him aside and bring a zealous persecutor of God’s people through a blessed transformation into becoming a zealous believer. Paul went on to experience countless crises, (Acts 20-28) but in the midst of his prison crises, God worked through Paul’s time set aside for renewal and transformation to write out much of the theology we cherish today. The Biblical list goes on and on; Lot, Daniel, David, Ezekiel, the disciples who watched their Messiah be crucified…THAT certainly wasn’t what they envisioned…person after person, crisis after crisis. Even Jesus wasn’t spared a good transformative crisis as He was set aside for 40 days in the wilderness fasting and facing temptation, only to emerge and begin His ministry and the path to our redemption (Matthew 4). And His voluntarily facing the crisis of being crucified was surely the greatest crisis of all but those 3 days He was set aside brought an amazing renewal and transformation for us all through the resurrection! **Insert shouts of praise here for triumph over the crisis of sin at the cross!**
This time the crisis has most of the world set aside. The crisis is forcing us to recognize that as much as we try to plan our future, we really have little control. We are every moment of every day and with every breath, totally dependant on the God that gives that breath. Things will surely end up being be dramatically different than what our vision for the future may be, but they most certainly will be exactly what God’s perfect vision and plan for us is. God uses crisis times like no other. Surely due to the massive scope of this crisis, God is preparing to do something incredible. I may not see His plan now, but the history of our Eternal God shows me it’s going to be great beyond our feeble human imagination.
So, I have come to embrace crises as blessed opportunity. It is God paving the way. Ministry wise, I’m finding this crisis is a time of renewal and transformation in the Camp’s operations. It is time to restructure, reimagine, and rebuild, pursuing God’s guidance to His new plan. Personally, I’m finding the extra time to set aside for reading, reflection, and prayer is like spending a long time just enjoying the presence of my close friend, Jesus. With Him, they may lock me in a room, but I am NEVER alone. Surely it is renewing and preparing me for the onslaught that I know is coming. Just as with every single time God set His people aside throughout the Bible, I sense that our being set aside, isolated and confined now is just the precursor to prepare us for what is to come afterwards. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a good crisis to force us into to resetting ourselves, to refocusing, to renewing and to being transformed into fulfilling God’s vision. So why waste a good crisis? What does God want to renew and to transform in your life? He’s preparing us for something amazing!
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”Psalm 23:4
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith –of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious jor, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”1 Peter 1:6-9