I have holidayed on the island of Jersey in summer, for more years than I can remember. First as a boy growing up, and now with my family and all our extended families. We have gone back to the same bay year after year, and enjoyed the same beach. I’d like to think we have got to know it quite well by now.
What I didn’t know as a boy was that the Channel Islands has one of the largest tidal variations in the whole of the UK and, at low tide, Jersey nearly doubles in size. All I remembered was that, if the family afternoon swim was during low tide, we had an awfully long way to walk to the sea!
Moreover, every year that we returned to the island and our beach, we never knew what the bay would look like. The high ‘spring tides’ could reshape the beaches of the island. Sometimes they would throw up massive quantities of sand or seaweed by the sea wall, renewing rock pools, and covering rocks and the lowest steps leading to the prom. At other times the power of the tides would drag the sand back, exposing rocks and shingle and then you would see whole new contours of the beach.
This week I have felt the Lord highlight to me that this huge tidal surge of the coronavirus will profoundly reshape human life on earth. What is being exposed? What are the new global contours being formed? As my wife said when I told her I was blogging this, her comment was ‘do you mean “what a mess this tide is making”?’ Yes I guess I do.
It will undoubtedly take many months before any sense of normality returns to community and national life. Even though most people are sure we will eventually beat this virus, the economic and business fallout, the political implications, and even the way we will reform social interactions after the pandemic may be hugely challenging. Yet God will also use the things that have been exposed and the dramatic shifting of contours to turn people’s hearts to spiritual things and to himself. When you have prayed and watched the news, you may well have sensed with me the powerful natural and supernatural forces that are in play at the moment, like the most devastating of high tides. The good news for people of Christian faith is our trust that the Lord will bring his redemptive purposes through this shaking and reshaping.
God is not the author of this virus; it comes from the one who steals, kills and destroys. Yet He is allowing it, this freak crisis in our 21st century intricately connected global village. There is foretold in the bible an unavoidable process of shaking that increases and accompanies the last generation on earth before Jesus returns. There are things set in motion that, in God’s wisdom, shake us to our core and turn hearts to him, and also prepare the earth for the age to come.
Yet God is not just watching us, like a detached observer. More than anything, I am sure he is weeping over us and with us all in the midst of this virus pandemic. The Lord is holding us, and closely and deeply at work in myriad ways and situations, in every community. Even as the watershed events of Jesus’ life through Good Friday and Easter Sunday profoundly reshaped the way our human story unfolds, and re-drew new contours of grace and hope into our lives, just so God will have bring his sovereign and loving purposes in this shaking and reshaping time. Because of Easter faith, we look for the time when he will come to reshape all of heaven and earth into his perfect creation. One day God will make all things new! And of course, that is the hope of our resurrection faith in Christ.
God bless you in this remarkable and challenging Easter time.