Pilots are trained for emergencies. They are taught that when the unexpected happens, the number one thing you do is to keep flying. You may have to make some adjustments, but you keep flying the plane. And that’s where we are right now. We keep living. We make adjustments and be prepared, but we keep on living, and hopefully do it in a more mindful way. Slow down, spend more time with family, call an elderly friend, take a walk outdoors, or sit in your backyard and listen to the birds. Fresh air, sunshine, and God’s nature are all good, healthy things to enjoy. No one wants circumstances like we have right now to remind us what is truly important, but let’s not waste the opportunity either. Live now. Enjoy God’s beauty around us. Be kind. Pray more. Less sensational news and social media. Look up.
And now, I think I’ll go bake some cookies with all that extra flour, sugar, butter and eggs I recently bought. Live your fullest, my friend! Don’t waste a moment.
“You haven’t prayed yet this morning.” a little nudging thought seemed to say to me.
I know… I say back to myself in my thoughts, while grabbing my purse and phone and taking that last sip of coffee. … I’ve got to get going for my appointment this morning. I’ll pray when I get back. Besides, there’s nothing going on here in this quiet morning that needs urgent prayer. It can wait a few hours.
I try to read my devotion and pray every morning, but honestly, it sometimes gets away from me. I always feel better when I do. It’s like getting dressed in the morning. When I rush, I don’t always look my best. Those shoes I grabbed in a hurry don’t really go with my outfit. I may get through the day ok, but I don’t feel great.
On this morning, I’m dressed but don’t have on great shoes. I head out for my appointment downtown, and afterwards I check my phone. There’s an urgent text from my son – COME HOME NOW. I call and text and wait to hear back from him as I’m madly driving home. And praying, urgently praying.
It all turned out ok, just some scary scammers that he wasn’t sure how to deal with. But it got me thinking. That nudge earlier this morning. God was giving me a heads up. He knew what was coming. He knew the evil that was lurking in people who are ready to pounce on the unsuspecting or vulnerable. When we least expect it. God wanted to talk with me that morning through my prayer, to reassure me, and to help clothe me for what my son would be facing in just a couple of hours. God was already preparing his angels to surround my son from such evil.
I was reminded there is nothing more important in getting ready for our day than starting the day talking to God. So this morning when I opened my devotion, I found this:
As Soon As You Prayed God thinks highly of you, and at the very moment you started praying, I was sent to give you the answer. Daniel 9:23 God answered their prayers because they trusted him. 1 Chronicles 5:20
God starts to answer us the minute we begin praying. And many times for things we don’t even know about.
Uganda is known as the “Pearl of Africa”. It is a fertile and well watered land with a temperament climate. Agriculture accounts for 80% of the work force. The population has been reduced over the years by the many wars, tribal killings, AIDS and diseases. Previous regimes also imposed restrictions and intense persecution of Christians.
But they now have freedom of religion. Since 1986, there has been widespread revival and prayer movements in the churches there. This makes Uganda one of the most truly Christian nations in the world, with church attendance high, and public prayer common even in government buildings. There are mega churches and house and storefront churches. Crime rates have fallen and it is estimated that half the population attend evangelically oriented services. This is very encouraging, and a testament to the power of Christianity!
There are still many needs and obstacles they have to overcome. Continue to pray for the people of Uganda, for their well-being, for Christian training and leadership, for youth ministry, and the ability to reach out to the increasing Muslim communities.
Swaziland is a small, landlocked enclave between Mozambique and South Africa. Mainly agricultural, most of the trade is with South Africa. However, the prevalence of AIDS has seriously affected their economy. It was a British protectorate from 1899-1968 and then became democratic, but the outrageous wealth of the monarchy among this poor country is a highly charged issue.
In Swaziland, the consistent sowing of the gospel over the last 160 years has led to a strong Christian community with a solid core of believers and regular church attenders. It is encouraging to see how a small, faithful sowing of the gospel over the years has reaped many benefits. Pray that they will continue to be faithful and lead others to Christ.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, located between Afghanistan and India, has a complex arrangement of ethnicity, language and caste, far more than in most nations. Public data on their economy and population is not available. Officially their literacy rate is 56% but a more realistic estimate is 25-45%. There is high inflation and widespread corruption. It is common to have shortages of electricity and gas disruption in normal life. About 20% live below the poverty line. The fight against radical Islamist groups continues to be a huge drain on the economy, which serves the Islamist groups even further. There is limited land and water and a crumbling infrastructure, along with decades of conflict and war. Previous governments have pursued Islamization of the legal system, taxation and public life, as well as discrimination against all religious minorities. Shari’a law is increasingly applied, even to Christians and Hindus, and this continues to oppress the people. Non-Muslims and non-Sunnis must practice their faith cautiously.
I write all of this with a personal heavy heart, because I have met co-workers from Pakistan and keep in touch with them through email and social medial. I sense the cautiousness in their responses, and they always give praise to Allah in anything they write. They are smart and educated and independent for women, definitely a minority in Pakistan. On the surface, their talk of Allah seems very much like the Christian God. But once you get a little further into it, the differences become more subtly apparent, and then it becomes very different. The Pakistani government also spreads a lot of false-teaching about Christianity and anti-Christian propaganda. We must be secure in our beliefs as Christians so we do not become deceived. Be a light, so that people may see the true Christ through you. It may be the only light they get to see.