by Jenny Stricklin

It’s 6:02 am. I’m still under the covers in that place between wakefulness and dreams. My mind casually searches for information to find my bearings… What day is it? What’s on my to-do list? Is anyone else awake yet? I need coffee.

And then I remember. COVID-19.

It was only just a passing news story from the other side of the world. And now it’s in my backyard. This is a dream right? I swallow hard, and reach for my phone on the bedside table. Just two weeks ago, we were planning an overseas spring break vacation and now we’re nearly constrained to our Arkansas home by this global pandemic. I brace myself as I scan 2 news alerts and 4 text messages divulging new, ever-changing updates.  What could possibly be next?

A DIFFERENT SPIRIT

In this bizarre turn of events facing our nation and the world right now, I keep thinking of the five words God said about Caleb in the book of Numbers. Caleb was one of the twelve spies sent ahead to survey the Promised Land, and to assess its quality and safety. Upon their return, the spies resolutely agreed that they should fear and avoid that risky land! It was full of giants, after all! But Caleb spoke up in contrast and encouraged the people to believe God and overcome! And in Numbers 14:24, we see that God took notice. “Caleb has a different spirit,” He said as He blessed him.

A different spirit. What exactly does that mean?

A quick survey of our land reveals a daunting, albeit-microscopic army of giants. The empty grocery shelves announce our panic. Our news feeds amplify our worry. We are out of control and out of answers. And in an unprecedented time, how can we be sure of what do to?

THE CHOICE

All of the spies in that Old Testament story observed the same scary facts. Caleb wasn’t blind to the dangers or overly sure of his own strength. But he made a choice. Caleb deliberately chose to look at these giants through the lens of faith. He wasn’t sure of everything, but He was sure of one thing – God is who He says He is. And this changed everything! It can change everything for us too.

In a day where the news is changing by the hour, we can’t be sure of much. But we can confidently say, the living God is our hope. Like Caleb, we have a different spirit! We have THE Spirit living in us and making it possible for us to come to a different conclusion. We too can choose to look at our land through the lens of faith!

-We can choose peace rather than panic.  
-We can choose confidence in God’s sovereignty amidst the unknown. 
-We can choose to speak life and hope in a swirl of negative conjecture.
-We can choose helping others instead of hoarding. 
-We can choose intentional, creative community in spite of isolation.
-We can choose to believe God instead of leaning on our own understanding.
-We can choose faith over fear.

MAKING HISTORY

Undoubtedly, we are making history here. This will be a story we will tell our grandkids. And the events unfolding before us are part of our kids’ stories too. Their faith is being shaped as they watch us react. And we get the responsibility – and the privilege! – of leading them faithfully through it.

Their faith is being shaped as they watch us react. And we get the responsibility – and the privilege! – of leading them faithfully through it.

There’s no more business-as-usual. Life as we know it has been temporarily suspended. At the time of this writing, schools have shut their doors through at least April 17th, churches have made the hard choice to cancel gatherings as well, sports have been postponed and restaurants have been asked to close their dining rooms to prevent the virus’s spread. We have a unique opportunity to choose how we will fill this space and what story we will tell.

  1. Remember Who God Is

Unless we stand on the character and nature of God. Unless we rehearse His promises again and again. Unless we let our theology trickle down into our reality. We will struggle with fear and defeat. Our view of God greatly affects our response. Need a place to start? Here’s a list of some of the names of God to reference often. 

  1. Make The Most of Conversations

An epic crisis like this forces us to consider realities that we don’t normally care to think about. Subjects like human frailty, the brevity of life, the sovereignty of God, life after death, etc. suddenly feel very relevant.  Need some help talking through faith topics with your kids? Check out this and this and this.

  1. Turn Up the Worship Music.

The news makes for pretty depressing background noise. Blaring worship music instead is a hopeful alternative and helps our souls recall the truth of who God is and believe it! Here’s some music our family is enjoying lately.

  1. Call on the Lord like Never Before

When life is going pretty right, it’s easy to forget God. But when we find ourselves in a position of great need – a need so big we can’t work our way out of it – we have little choice but to pray. Perhaps this pandemic is meant to lead us to a worldwide calling upon the Lord. This could be the catalyst for a global awakening! Wouldn’t that be a story for the history books!?

If you’re like me, fear seems to creep in so easily. And worry can act like it’s the boss. I’m praying for you all as I pray for myself. That God would increase our faith and give us a different spirit as we lead our kids and look at our land.

His mercies are indeed new every morning.

Jenny Stricklin

From Little Rock, AR, Jenny Stricklin is a pastor¹s wife and mom of five young kids who is seeking to live out her motherhood calling in a way that honors God and impacts the Kingdom. God has graciously shown her His heart through everyday struggles, foster care, adoption, and parenting a child with special needs. Out of a love and desire for community, she¹s eager to link arms with other moms as they run - and sometimes crawl - toward Jesus in an effort to follow Him in the context of family.

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