I recently read a very insightful article by Andy Crouch entitled, “Leading beyond the Blizzard: why every organization is now a startup.” He and two others assume the following: “The novel coronavirus is not just something for leaders to ‘get through’ for a few days and weeks. Instead, we need to treat COVID-19 as an economic and cultural blizzard, winter, and beginning of a ‘little ice age’ – once-in-a lifetime change that is likely to affect our lives and organizations for years.”
They write out of love for others and with humility in a time of considerable uncertainty. “The creative potential for hope and vision is unparalleled right now” notes the article, “but paradoxically this creativity will only be fully available to us if we also make space for grief and lament.”
The report ends with these sobering words, “…… responsible leaders have no choice, today, but to assume that the winter is upon us, and an ice age of unknown duration is before us. We are playing a game no one now living has ever played before. We are, for reasons only God knows, on the front line, on the starting team. Let us act boldly, today, to build as best we can, for the love of our neighbor and the glory of God.”
I am writing to men who have had their personal, family and professional lives radical altered in the last two months. At present there is deep tension in our nation about how much longer the “lock-down” will last. It very well could be that before we get to some new normal, we could see civil unrest. Who will emerge with a plan for a new normal? Men, we first of all need to look to God on how to rebuild.
My thoughts turn to the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah served as cupbearer to the powerful Persian king, Artaxerxes, who made him the governor of Jerusalem. He lead the people in rebuilding the walls of the city. Nearly a century after the Jewish people had gone back to Jerusalem, Nehemiah learned of the deplorable condition of Jerusalem. “The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire” (Neh. 1:2). The people were in deep distress.
We can learn from Nehemiah. It very well could be that we will need to “rebuild” after the virus. There will be much left in the aftermath of this pandemic that will need to either be repaired or built anew, in the social, political and economic areas of our life together as a nation. The spiritual will especially need our attention. “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations: you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings” (Is 58:12).
Nehemiah was deeply moved by the deplorable condition of the city. He looked to God in heartfelt prayer. “Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying…….I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you.” (1:6).
God gave Nehemiah favor. After he had surveyed the condition of the city, he told the people, “Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace” (2:17). The people replied, “Let us start rebuilding” (2:18). Then we are told “they began this good work” (2:18) To those who opposed the work, Nehemiah said, “The God of heaven will give us success” (2:20).
View this time as having been refined in the fire, allowing cracks to be exposed in your foundations. But together we can rebuild our spiritual dwelling in the Lord.