“Why didn’t I pick up the last 50 pound sack of flour on the shelf in the grocery store?” I asked myself this question in a fit of self-condemnation after hearing that the Coronavirus could last for months rather than weeks. I thought how my “prepper” friend would have a fit if she knew that I had passed up the coveted flour!
And then I heard the Holy Spirit echo my question. “Yes, why didn’t you pick it up?” He was reminding me that the decision to leave it behind had been a conscious choice on my part, and it had been pleasing to Him.
In December, my friend had warned me that there would be a food shortage in March and April and encouraged me to buy bulk. In looking back, the Holy Spirit must have revealed this to her because no one knew the effects that Covid 19 would have on the world, the United States included.
I had considered what she said. It was time to prepare, and I did buy a little extra. It wasn’t that I didn’t heed her warning, I just put it off because we were so busy right then that I decided to wait until the first of March before I really stored much. As it turned out, I was tied up until the end of the first week of March. By then, word of the virus was out and it was already difficult to find beans, rice and flour, let alone large quantities of them.
We all witnessed the world change before our very eyes. Doubt and denial became fear that turned into panic. The CDC labeled the virus in our nation as a pandemic, and pandemonium broke out in many places as people stormed the grocery stores stocking up or (or stockpiling) what they considered to be essentials.
It is not time to fear. Most Americans have never considered a scenario such as this happening in our “land of plenty.” The impulse to worry about not having enough or going without what we think we need is great. But this is not the time to be frantically hoarding as much as we can.
It is time for us to diligently and fervently seek the Lord while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6-7). Through the order to stay home, we have been given an amazing gift of time. Instead of wasting it, I pray that we will use it wisely.
James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” By nature, we are social creatures, and while we have been told that it is time to practice social distancing and isolation, the Lord tells us that it is time to draw near to Him and that He will draw near to us. Just think how comforting the loving arms of Jesus are!
While we are washing our hands and sanitizing our houses, it is time to cleanse our spiritual hands and purify our hearts from the ways of the world and from our double-mindedness. Psalm 139:23-24 explains, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my concerns, and see if there is any rebellious way in me and lead me in the ancient way.”
What does cleansing our hands look like? For me, it means examining all the things I’ve been “doing,” and then asking the Holy Spirit to show me what I’ve picked up and incorporated into my life that is not His will or His plan for me. It is time for me to repent and to learn new habits. It may look different for you.
How about double-mindedness? The Lord’s been revealing how I say I trust Him, and then when I hear the next wave of news, my first response is panic. Do I trust? Or do I panic? Yes, both! This is double-mindedness. It’s true that we will experience the emotion of fear at times even when we trust, but if we truly trust, we will choose to reject panic and will cry out to Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to calm the storm of our panicked thoughts just as the disciples did several times when they were being beaten by storms on the sea. It is time for me to repent and to practice using a single-mind, Christ’s mind because trusting God is spiritual worship, and we were created to worship Him. (Matthew 8:23-26; Philippians 2; 1 Corinthians 2:16; Romans 12:1-2; Jeremiah 29:13; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Isaiah 43:7)
It is time for us to learn to “worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). To do this, we must understand that the physical world is only one part of the system. The spiritual realm is just as real and active as the physical. These two realms are tightly connected, and whatever we see, hear and feel, we can be sure that there is much more going on that we cannot see, hear and feel. Within the spiritual realm, there are two kingdoms at war for our hearts and minds.
God is Holy Spirit, and when our spirits choose to believe in Jesus Christ, then He opens our hearts to His love and fills us, connecting us instantly with our heavenly Father. We choose to serve God with our spirit (Romans 1:9), no matter what our soul (mind, will and emotions) is telling us, and as we do this, Holy Spirit and angels help us to live in the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5) while we build ourselves up in our “most holy faith” (Jude 1:20). Obedience to God rarely makes sense to our rational way of thinking, for it is a spirit-choice rather than a soul-choice. Holy Spirit’s ways are not like ours. We have become reliant on technology especially now while we are all isolated. We are blessed to have electricity, but at some point, that may fail too. How awesome that we can relate to and interact with our heavenly Father without technology!
In Satan’s kingdom there are evil spirits, some that are so powerful the Bible calls them “gods.” Many of these are incorporated into belief systems around the world. They are very real and are a part of the spiritual realm, just as angels of God are real and active. Of course, none are as powerful as Yahweh. This being said, I want to call attention to one of these “gods” named Pan because I believe that he is responsible at least in part, for the strong reactions of the people in our nation to this virus.
Demons can manipulate our thoughts and feelings, and can therefore influence our actions if we are living from our soul rather than our spirit. One of the main functions of this spirit called Pan is to inspire terror in the hearts of man. Yep. This is where we get the words panic, pandemic, and pandemonium. There are people who worship this false god. Some may use his power of fear to manipulate and control others. Some do not realize that they are worshipping him when they give-in to and are dominated by the fear and terror he inspires.
I say “Ouch!” because I have realized that when I give in to fear, to panic, I am participating in worship of a false god. God’s Word says, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).
As I thought back to the moment of decision to pick up the large bag of flour or not, the Holy Spirit was reminding me of His prompting and my choice to walk in faith, not in fear. By leaving the flour behind, I was rejecting the work of this demonic spirit and the temptation to join with him in the panic he was trying to raise in me, as well as the panic he is inciting within the world. I was taking a stand in the faith of my Almighty God.
I am not saying that we should not pick up important items. I am saying that it is time for us to check our thoughts, feelings and motives, to trust in the Lord with all of our heart, to lean not on our own understanding. It is not time to react in ungodly fear. It is time for us to acknowledge the Lord in all of our ways, and then He will make our paths straight in this crooked world (Proverbs 3:5-6). “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your body, and strength to your bones (Proverbs 3:5-6). Amen!
It is time to listen carefully to the Holy Spirit, to remember the truth of God’s Word, and then to respond in trust, in the obedience of faith. After all, as Paul so beautifully reminds us in Philippians 1:21, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
The following is an image of Pan, contributed by Connie Stoffel, The Tameion Chamber