Isaiah 55:6 exhorts us to “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.” Until the beginning of this year, the world was teetering on from crisis to crisis, but everything was more or less working. Now, three months later, all the shops in the UK are closed except for food stores, pharmacies and supermarkets; countries are closing their borders, and the word “plague” is starting to appear in the media – Christian and secular. We are all wondering where it will lead – is this indeed the “beginning of sorrows?” (Matt 24:8-13) Of course there is only one answer to that: we don’t know. We just know that we are nearer the Lord’s return now than we were.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matt 24 36-39)
What is crucial in these times is not that we know what’s happening next, but that we are prepared for it, whatever it is. I don’t mean in the sense of building bunkers and filling them with provisions, but that we do indeed learn to hear the voice of the One who is returning. God is kind, and He is giving us a period of Grace while it seems that He is pressing the “reset” button in many of our systems, including in our churches, where at the time of writing we are no longer allowed to gather. It seems that there is less traffic on the road than there has been for fifty years. Nearly all centres of social interaction are closed. Many of us have time on our hands. What do we do with it?
We can fill it with social media, we can binge on box sets, or we can put these diversions lower down the list of priorities and we can learn to hear God. We can do all the things that we hear about on Sundays and read about in books but say we don’t really have the time for. Well, for a lot of us, now we do. The Lord can be found now. He has given us space to seek him now. Now, while so much is on “pause”, we can be like the wise virgins and make sure there is oil in our lamps. Now is the time to make sure our wicks are trimmed.
So, whether or not we are in the end times, this is certainly a boot camp for end-times training. The Lord wants His Church to learn to seek Him now, so that when life gets more difficult we are already used to hearing His voice and will be able to follow it readily. If we keep putting it off until real crisis comes upon us from which only He can deliver us, it will be too late to train our spiritual ears to get to know His whisper, because there will be too many other voices clamouring for attention.