Return to Me

What if we have more control over this pandemic season than we think? Not just by keeping our distance, covering our faces, and washing our hands (though I think we should). Not necessarily by sheltering in place and shutting down businesses (though perhaps, in some form of moderation, it could flatten the curve without crushing the economy). Not necessarily by being the first in line for the vaccine (or hoping enough go before you and create sufficient herd immunity that you really don’t have to). What if the control we have, the influence we hold, when it comes to how long this season will last isn’t found in controversial remedies but in a contrite return.

Reading in Amos this morning. And it’s a rhetorical question, asked by the LORD through the prophet, that causes me to pause and whisper in response, “Nope!”

Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?

(Amos 3:6b ESV)

And I think to myself, Does a pandemic come to a planet, unless the LORD has done it? Again, Nope!

Our God is Sovereign. It’s one of the truths we cling to in order to find comfort and endurance during what continues to be an uncomfortable and wearying time. Whether the pandemic has infected us personally or not, we’ve all been impacted by it to some degree. Whether the media you follow is preoccupied with warning of rising daily body counts or with lamenting increasing daily bankruptcies (or both), knowing that a good God has permitted it all for His purposes helps in dealing with it all.

But if only we knew the purposes. If only we knew what God wanted to accomplish. Then maybe we could get ‘er done and move on with life.

In Amos’s day the people had the prophets to connect the dots between “natural disasters” and supernatural purposes (Amos 3:7). A voice of one, crying in the wilderness as it were, calling God’s people to repent and return to the Lord for what was happening in the land. But while we don’t have a prophet among us who “thus says the LORD”, we do have the Spirit within us “who is from God, that we might understand . . . for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (1Cor. 2:12, 10).

Not saying that I have any special revelation from God through the Spirit, but if God in us has reminded us that God above us is in perfect control of all things, then might He not also show us how we are to respond? And the sooner we respond might it not also speed the season along? And what if that response is found in the echoing repetition of Amos 4?

“. . . yet you did not return to Me.”

I took away your food, says the LORD, yet you didn’t return to Me (4:6). I withheld the rain, you were so thirsty you had wander to another city to find water, yet you wouldn’t turn back (4:7-8). I took out your crops with disease and damaging insects, still you ignored Me (4:9). When you saw a rerun of the Egyptian plagues in your land, you still took no notice of Me, it was as if I didn’t exist (4:10). Even when I permitted earthquake and fire, you never looked My way, you still did not return to Me (4:11). (Thanx to Peterson’s The Message for some of the word pictures).

Five times the charge echoes before God’s people, “Yet you did not return to Me.”

I wonder if at least part of what God wants to accomplish in permitting this difficult time is for His people to return to Him. Not that mass repentance and revival in the church necessarily ends the pandemic, but if calling me back to Himself might possibly be one of things God wants to accomplish through this dry, difficult season, perhaps returning to Him helps move this thing along in running its course.

Don’t really know. Just thinking. And returning.

Because of His grace. Only for His glory.

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