When I Shut Up The Heavens So That There Is No Rain – By Pastor/Elder Greg Mattson
“When I shut up heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.”
2 Chronicles 7:13-15
Writing pastoral ponderings for me personally is difficult. I am given the task of trying to put into words what God is doing in my life which often becomes an intimate look at what’s going on in an introvert’s world. I have written in the past about ongoing theological debates with my very intelligent, agnostic, 86 year-old father whom I love very much, with hopes of him turning to Jesus before it’s too late. Last pondering, I wrote about always being thankful even in the midst of trials with my grandson’s newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes, which we continue to deal with but seems to be going well by the grace of God. As I have been encouraged by the testimony of others, I am hopeful that these words that God puts on my heart will do the same for you.
The world is a mess. We humans, like the Israelites, have turned from God. We’ve had pandemics, riots, increasing racial divide, increasing loss of free speech, targeting of Christians over conservative values, the degradation of the nuclear family, Chinese spy balloons, wars, toxic train derailments, earthquakes, laws allowing abortions up to full term, and people actually debating that men can have babies (I guess I was playing basketball when they taught that class in medical school). This is just a little view of things currently going on in the world. It’s hard to imagine that things could get worse.
As followers of Christ, are we to then sit quietly in despair as the world crumbles around us? Of course not. We know that God is sovereign and in control over all things. But He works through His people to exalt Him and show the world who He is. In view of that truth, we elders have looked back to when we shut down New Life for several weeks when covid started, and we can confidently say that in the future, worship at New Life will never go remote again, unless God Himself does it.
What then should we do when we are faced with future trials? In 2 Chronicles we see God speaking to King Solomon after the king dedicated the temple, exhorting the Israelites to first realize that He is in control of all things – including judgments like famines and pestilence – and that should lead His people to repent and pray. Although our country doesn’t have the same covenant relationship with God that ancient Israel had, God still desires that we (the Church) recognize our sin, humble ourselves and repent, admit we aren’t in control and submit ourselves to God. He will hear our prayers – and we can leave it up to Him to accomplish His purposes in His way.
Imagine what this may look like among His followers? You don’t need to imagine because this is what happens when we gather on Sundays. It’s happening in the darkest places around the globe like at our Southern border as Travis powerfully testified a few months ago. We desperately need and desire a healing of our land, but we see that God works in individual hearts that submit to Him in faith – one heart at a time.
I would like to conclude this with another example of God’s sovereign work among His people. This week buried in the usual reports of disasters was a report out of Asbury University in the small town of Wilmore, Kentucky, a population of 6000 people. There is a reported revival happening. “It began with a regularly scheduled chapel service at Hughes Auditorium on Feb .8 and it simply hasn’t ended.” Nothing was planned, apparently people weren’t praying for revival, and there is nothing special about Wilmore, KY. It’s reported the crowds are growing with people coming in from other states as well as other countries. Prayer and worship are going on 24/7. God is doing something in Wilmore as well as in Dresser Junction.
My prayer for New Life is that we humble ourselves, pray and seek Jesus in all circumstances, good and bad. There is great comfort in knowing the Creator of all things hears our prayers and will give us His healing, in His way. We can trust Him.
In Christ, greg.