by Billy Walker
SOUTHGATE, MI – During this time of coping through COVID-19, I was reminded of a little song that we learned in the music class of my elementary school. The lyrics were, “Stop, look and listen, before you cross the street. Use your eyes, use your ears, then use your feet!” Beautiful, catchy lyrics with an equally compelling melody made this a huge hit with kids and parents alike.
Not really, but it was an easy song to teach and it was intended to help kids who were walking to and from school. You know, back when that was a thing! Is there a chance there is a scriptural and practical application from that long-ago tune that can help us as we move to the other side of this pandemic? For the most part, we need to concentrate on the first and last part of that song.
If this were a biblical story, it might start out as, “In the days of quarantine...” I was not prepared for hitting the pause button on life as we know it, but there can be no doubt that God has worked and still works through the stoppages. Noah building the ark, Joseph in prison, Moses in Midian, David as a shepherd in the fields. The periods of isolation were often preparation for what God was about to do. Even Jesus, at the beginning of His ministry, went off alone for 40 days. Sometimes it was by choice, but sometimes, there was no alternative. Ezekiel tells us that God stopped the progression of the Israelites in Egypt for a lengthy period of time because of their refusal to give up the idols they’d grown accustomed to and live up to His expectations (Ezekiel 20:7-8).
For the most part, we don’t like change – unless change comes by our choice. However, there are times when change is forced upon us for one reason or another. In WW2, curfews, rolling blackouts, and rations for food and gas became a way of life that most people did not choose, but realized its necessity. After 9/11, no more meeting your family at their arrival gate or getting to the airport 30 minutes ahead of time. Metal detectors and bag checks became the norm at theaters, concert venues and stadiums. Again, while not a personal choice, change had to occur. So, what changes will happen because of the coronavirus? And rather than think about how this is an attack on more of your personal freedoms, think about the church, your church and you. Why did God put a stop to life as we know it? Was there a lesson He wanted us to get? What about all of those spiritual disciplines that we often claim we don’t have time for? What did He want us to learn, but He had to stop the world so we would get it?
Moses saw a burning bush, the Israelites saw the plagues converge on Egypt, Daniel saw what was to come, Elisha saw the mountains filled with angelic warriors. What does God want us to see through this pandemic? He is moving the church forward – even through difficult days. The online service that we use to livestream our gatherings has seen more than 200,000 decisions for Christ since the beginning of the stay home stay safe order. And that is just one platform. We have had viewers and even gifts from across the country as the weeks turned into months. This type of ministry was not even on our radar at the beginning of 2020, but it was always in the mind of God. What does He want you to see?
1 Kings 19:12 says, “and after the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after he fire, a still small voice.” Isn’t there a chance that God had to stop the merry-go-round of our lives in order for us to listen to Him? I know I’m edging out on a weak limb here, but do you remember the high volume of disagreement that was being shared on social media pages even within our own denomination? THAT is what people were hearing. But within just a few days, a lot of that had stopped. We live in a world that often celebrates the one with the loudest voice (think political pundits on any major news network). But God speaks the loudest often in the stillness.
MOVE YOUR FEET
This is the final triumphant ending to the catchy kids’ lyric, but it has some serious spiritual weight behind it. MOVE YOUR FEET! What is the one question that was and is being asked by everyone in the entire world right now, including you and me? “When will we get back to normal?” I think you would agree that God has no desire for us to go back. He is looking for us to move forward. God is a merciful, loving God, but check out what happens in Exodus and Numbers when the children of Israel talk about going back. He is not having it! And what is it that moves the hand of God on our behalf? Our faith! Once you have taken the time to stop and look and listen, then you have to move out. You can’t cross the street without moving your feet! Go ahead, say it with me. “You can’t cross the street...” Well, you get the idea. I for one do not believe that God caused this pandemic, but I definitely think He is using it. Using it to get our attention, to reprioritize our lives, our family, our ministry. Using it to speak to us, if we will only listen. And using it to prepare us for an incredible wave of blessing, favor, and revival in our nation and around the world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rev. Billy Walker is the Lead Pastor of Calvary Church in Southgate, MI, the Vice President of the Billy Walker Evangelistic Association and a leader with the Church Strengthening team for the BSCM. He and his wife Laurie have two daughters and are lifetime residents of the downriver area.