As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up and followed him. - Mark 2:14
There is a lot going on in our world as we face unprecedented events due to COVID-19. It is a time of anxiety, fear and uncertainty for many. It is definitely a time of adjustment as we face an ever changing world.
Yet, God is still in control. He is sovereign over this world and we know He holds our lives in His Hands. We also know He is a loving God and will take care of us. We can trust Him.
As we make adjustments in our lives, this is an opportunity for us to grow in our relationship with Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. With everything else around us changing it is comforting to know that Jesus never changes: He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Levi, the tax collector was going about his everyday life when Jesus turned his world upside down by calling him to become His disciple. One day he was a tax collector; the next day he left everything behind to follow Jesus. His world was forever changed for the better.
This is a time of reflection about our lives and what they are all about. Are we truly following Jesus fully and wholeheartedly? Do we fully know the peace He brings? Have we let other things come in the way of our life with Him?
This is a time of reset for us. Staying at home allows us extra time to spend with Him and grow in Him. He is calling us deeper into our life in Christ.
Here are some ways to grow in our walk with Christ and find deeper peace and love in Him.
Personal Time with God: If you aren't currently spending time alone with Jesus, this is the perfect time to start. It doesn't require you to do anything more than you would building a relationship with anyone else - you take time to speak and listen. Find a quiet place to get away and begin.
- Prayer: This is where you talk with God and listen in quietness of spirit to hear Him. You can and should tell Him everything - just like a friend. Tell Him all your anxieties, fears and concerns, your hopes and dreams. Tell Him all about the people you love and what you want for them. Ask Him for direction and wisdom for what to do. God listens to every word and promises to answer. Spend time in quietness before Him. You might want to journal your thoughts and any responses you hear from Him. You can do this on your phone in the notes app or in a notebook. You will be able to look back at this to remind yourself what you experienced as an encouragement. Prayer is a great tool in the Hands of an infinitely powerful God.
- God's Word, the Bible: Read a short passage of Scripture to hear Him speaking to you. His Word is living; that means it is how God speaks to you in a personal way through the Holy Spirit. If you don't already have the YouVersion app, I highly recommend you get it. There are Bible reading plans to choose from and great devotionals. I love this app because it connects us with God's word. Journal verses that stand out to you and record what He is saying. Focus on His promises and words of encouragement. With God's Words in our hearts, we can better face any trouble.
Worship: This is a great way to grow closer to Jesus and to experience peace. Try putting worship music on in the background. Go old school with hymns on cd's, use an app like Spotify or Pandora, listen to live streaming or radio like WBFJ, KLOVE, or AIR1. Download new worship music. This is a great time to get worship music in your heart and lift your spirit. There is no fear in love and worship is simply an act of love toward God.
Prayer Walks: Get outside now that the weather is better. Walk around your block and pray for your neighbors. Spend time with God. Find rest for your souls and get some exercise. Let your stress fade with each step.
Listen to Podcasts: I love podcasts and love listening to sermons and biblical teaching. My neighbor across the street told me this week that she listened to 5 different sermons online this Sunday - all from the same Gospel (she goes to a liturgical denominational church where they all follow the same calendar) and she really learned the passage from hearing different takes on it. There are so many things for us to learn from Jesus and we live in a time when we have direct access to some great teachers. Take advantage of what we have been given in this way. Allow Jesus to teach you through them.
Love the People Around You: Check on in people - by phone or email or from the driveway if they are outside (keep your social distance). Allow the love of Jesus to flow through you. Our pantry will be open with extra precautions as we try to help those who are the most vulnerable. Go grocery shopping for others. Be the hands of Jesus. Jesus said that when we help the least of these, He is present. Serve Him by serving others.
Jesus is calling us to follow Him through this crisis. I believe the church will grow stronger through this time if we choose to focus on Jesus and grow in Him. He is calling us to Him for such a time as this.
Be like Levi - when Jesus calls - get up and follow Him wherever He leads. We can come out of this time closer to Him, more in love with Him and more dependent on Him
This time will pass. Through it, God offers to be our refuge and strength. Through it, Jesus is the way to find rest for our souls. Follow Him and He will lead you through.