It’s 23rd March 2020, and the world is in the Grip of Coronavirus. This is a Christian bog, and I’ve launched it today because I wanted to open a channel whereby I could still continue to encourage and edify the church even though that is no longer an option, for the time being, on a Sunday morning. If you don’t know me I’m a member of Wildwood Church, Stafford, UK – a Christ Central Church, part of New Frontiers. I lead the prophetic ministry there.
And here’s the first encouraging thought: whenever the devil thinks he can blow out the flame of the Body of Christ, all he does is blow away God’s dandelion seeds, and they spring up and multiply in different places. As it was in the time of Nero’s persecution, so it was in China in the late 20th century, so it is in Iran today, and so it will be during this coronavirus pandemic. We’ve been praying for revival, and I believe we’re going to see it soon. We just didn’t expect it to start with a plague. But then the journey into the Promised Land started with a plague as well…
So why the winepress?
Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches (John 15: 1-5). The purpose of the fruit – the grapes – is for them to be turned into wine. I believe this is what God is doing at the moment: he’s cut us off from our Sunday morning routines so that the good stuff that He has been growing inside us can be extracted. The winepress is not a very comfortable place for a grape, but it’s the purpose that we have been called to. And He is calling us to know His presence and His peace – “peace not as the World gives” – in the midst of the pressure.
We can expect transformations. I also think that we will find a new Unity in the Spirit, even while we are physically separated from one another. We have a message for the panic buyers in the supermarkets, which is that we have a Father who knows our needs, and whose Son taught us to pray “Give us TODAY our daily bread/pasta/toilet roll”- not enough for the next six months. If we go into that madding crowd as grapes, we’ll just get squashed and trampled on; but if we let the Lord transform us by His presence and go as wine, they will want a drink.
Finally, if God is transforming His church, we can’t expect to go back when this is all over and find things just as they were. Because I don’t think they’ll be there any more: they will have been blown away.
“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. (I’ll be using the Kings James version here, as there are no copyright restrictions.) Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.” (Isaiah 43 18-21)
So as the winepress does its work, let’s remember whose hand is on it. What comes out is going to be different, and it’s going to be good!