We are living in a time of clarification.
Perhaps this statement seems odd to you. Perhaps you are not feeling much clarity in these days. Perhaps the upending of your daily routine, the uncertainty of what happens next with the coronavirus, or the stock market, or toilet paper supply chains, or your health, or your job, or your kids’ school, makes my suggestion seem absurd. How can we be in a time of clarification when we are feeling so disoriented? How can this be a time of clarity when we are filled with so much uncertainty?
I believe that it is precisely the uncertainty of these days that makes this a time of clarification. It is because our daily life has been thrown into confusion that we are being offered the gift of clarity. The clarity on offer is not the knowledge of what will happen next with the coronavirus, or when we will again be able to gather as a church, or when our favorite sport will be back live on ESPN. We are not being offered temporal clarity. Our hearts long for such clarity, for answers to the questions of the immediate, because we fear an unpredictable future. But temporal clarity is not what our hearts truly need. The gift we are being offered is to come to a deeper and more abiding clarification of what endures, of what our hearts long for. This time of clarification is an offer to our souls to see through the illusions of this temporary world that so easily capture our hearts and again commit to build our lives on the firm foundation.
The time of clarification has come upon us so suddenly. Two weeks! It has taken only two weeks for apparently durable realities to be shown to be ephemeral, transitory, tottering. But it is the very abruptness of the arrival of the time of clarification that makes this season such a gift. Rarely in our lives will we have such an opportunity to see through the fleeting finite to the enduring infinite. Rarely in our lives will the deceptions of impermanence that claim to be ultimate be so easily falsified. Rarely in our lives will we be given such clear vision into the permanent that exists beyond all illusory appearances. The time of clarification offers us the gift of temporal confusion that can more deeply convince our souls of the transience of the world East of Eden. When we are convinced, we can truly acknowledge that this world, with its nations pursuing power, its rulers pursuing glory, its money promising security, and its entertainments offering pleasure, is indeed a house built on the sand.
Let’s not waste this gift. It is my prayer that I won’t squander this time of clarification. While I would never wish for the outbreak of a pandemic, and the pain and disorientation it brings, I want to recognize that there is a gift being offered to my soul, and I want to invite you to take hold of this gift, as well. This is a frightening time, and perhaps you are struggling with anxiety and fear about what comes next. That is inevitable, and I have been feeling this as well. But as I have reflected on my fear, God has been gently guiding me to identify my hearts’ pursuit of impermanent things. Ultimately, my fear reveals what my heart loves but also knows is passing. Through this, God has called me set my heart more fully and confidently on Him, the One who endures.
And so, a pastoral prayer for God’s people: “May the uncertainty and disorientation of these days be for you a time of clarification, as you see through the fleeting finite and set your heart more firmly on the Eternal God.”