I once heard the story of a town whose residents were informed of a giant dam to be built which would flood their beloved town. Their homes, businesses, restaurants, parks, and places of recreation would lie forever buried in a watery grave.
However, completion of the dam was many, many months in the future, and there was no need to pack up and rush away. It would be a long time before they needed to leave their busy little town.
But before long, the once vibrant town began to look run down. No one bothered to paint faded siding or repair broken windows. Gardens grew more weeds than flowers, and trash was left to rot wherever it landed. Many months before businesses were closed, they appeared forgotten and forlorn.
The bustling town died long before the actual date of its impending death.
Because there was no reason to dream, no future to plan for, and no reason to hope.
God brought this story to my mind recently as I prayed for some children in our town. I’ve known these kids for several years, and to my knowledge they’ve never accepted Jesus as their Savior. The past several months, I’ve been praying specifically that they would attend our church’s Vacation Bible School program this summer.
But a couple days ago as I was praying for them, I skipped that part of my prayer. Why pray for them to come to Vacation Bible School when it’s likely to be cancelled, along with the rest of our planned evangelism outreaches?
I continued to pray, but my heart was heavy.
“Lord, I don’t understand any of this. I’m so sad about churches being closed all across the country. I can’t even take my neighbors cookies and a tract right now! What if we can’t have Vacation Bible School, or summer camp? What about the kids who need these things?”
As I continued to pray, God brought to my mind the dying town and the dam—the story about people giving up because there was no future to look forward to.
Suddenly I realized how incredibly short-sighted I was in my prayers. I gave myself a little lecture, much like the psalmist in Psalm 42:5, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”
Why was I acting like God wasn’t in control? What made me think for a single moment that a virus could hinder the salvation of these precious children?
And then an incredibly exciting thought swept across my mind:
What if God is preparing my neighborhood, my town, my country, our world—for revival?
What if things changed—really changed—as a result of what we’re going through right now? What if Christians wake up and see what an amazing privilege church attendance and corporate worship is? What if believers fill churches to overflowing once this is all over?
And what if Christians’ hearts are set on fire for Jesus? What if we go out into our towns and communities with a desire to serve, to evangelize, and to tell the lost about Jesus like never before? What if God is preparing the hearts of unbelievers all around the world to hear the gospel?
What if God is using our present circumstances and hardships to strip away all the idols in our lives and show us what’s truly important? What if God is preparing the soil of hearts to receive the seeds of salvation?
With these thoughts racing through my mind, I grabbed my prayer journal and started a new page:
“Pray for Revival”
Here are a few things I wrote:
Pray for Christians to repent of sin, draw near to Jesus, and flood churches to overflowing once the ban is lifted. Pray that Christians’ hearts would be set on fire to pray for and evangelize the lost. Pray for unbelievers to realize the hopelessness of life and eternity without Jesus, and for them to come to God for salvation.
I also wrote an “Action List” on the page—things I could do right now, in spite of the quarantine, to reach out to people in my community. No, I can’t do things I normally would, but there are still plenty of ways to show the love of Jesus to the people around me.
And guess what happened to my despondency?
My friend, sometimes it takes a little dreaming and a little planning to get yourself out of a spiritual slump. I know it’s not an easy time for anyone, and it can be especially hard when we feel like our efforts for God are thwarted at every turn.
But take a look through Scripture at how many times God turned storms into triumphs, roadblocks into bridges, and defeats into victories! His signature move is to take awful situations and bring overwhelming good from them!
So today, my friend—I encourage you to do some dreaming. Perhaps join me in adding a page to your prayer list and do some spiritual planning. Look forward—past all that’s happening today—and see what great things God has in store for us!
Don’t stop dreaming!
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18)
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