California is projecting that 56 percent of its population could become infected with coronavirus over the next eight weeks. Governor Gavin Newsom made this statement as a warning that we must take drastic steps now to slow the spread of the virus.
As a result, the governor issued a statewide order today mandating that all Californians must stay at home except for essential things such as food, prescriptions, health care, and commuting to jobs considered crucial. These restrictions will remain in place until further notice.
As we deal with a crisis unprecedented in my lifetime, we face a future none of us can see. In this context, something I noticed just now in reading John 12 may be encouraging.
Why you don’t need to fear the future
Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, which understandably caught the attention of many.
Then our Lord came to Bethany, “where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead” (John 12:1). John tells us that “when the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead” (v. 9).
This was a problem for the religious authorities, who were terrified that Jesus and his followers would stage an uprising that would cost them their jobs and perhaps their lives at the hand of Rome. As a result, “the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus” (vv. 10–11).
Here was my thought: I doubt that this threat worried Lazarus very much.
Think about it: he had already been through death and had seen God’s glory on the other side. Then Jesus brought him back to his earthly body, though he would die again one day. Now that he had seen what happens when we die, he knew that death is only a promotion from this fallen world to God’s perfect paradise. He knew that when we take our last breath here, we take our first breath there.
Lazarus experienced personally what Jesus promised Lazarus’ sister: “Everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:26).
We can face the future with the same knowledge today. We can know with Paul that “for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). We can know that we will hear Jesus say to us as we die what he said to the thief on the cross next to his: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
What should we do in the meantime?
Later in John 12, I read these words from Jesus: “Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you” (v. 35). This is a binary choice: we are either in the light or we are overtaken by the dark. We are moving forward with Jesus or we are moving away from him. The spiritual life is a mountain, not a level road. We are either going up or we are going down, always.
If we choose to walk in the light, trusting our Lord with the present and the future, we will experience his love in a way that will encourage our hearts and transform our lives.
‘Like becoming new and new again’
Craig Denison notes in today’s First15: “There is nothing in this world like experiencing the unconditional love of God. His love extends farther than the width of the skies. His love goes deeper than the deepest sea. His love is more powerful than a raging fire, and it is closer than the heartbeat within your chest. Experiencing his love is like becoming new again and again.”
As a result, Craig states, “It’s time that we cease questioning whether we are loved and instead seek the face of our heavenly Father that we might know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he loves us.”
His devotional closes: “There is no reason to fear in this life. There is nothing here that can separate us from eternal, unbound relationship with our heavenly Father. Allow his love to cast out any reservations you have today. Receive an awareness of his perfect love and rest easy in his kindness.”
Are you walking in the light and love of Jesus right now?