Nothing is normal about these times right now. Daily case totals and death tolls are front of mind, reminding us of the tenuous uncertainty of life. Though people may question the significance of the numbers, compared to cases and death tolls from the flu, for instance, the preoccupation of the world with this global pandemic labeled COVID-19 is a daily reminder of our own mortality.
Someone speaking of personal experience in World War I remarked, “There are no atheists in the trenches of Europe.” The same idea was echoed in World War II: “There are no atheists in foxholes.” Indeed, Impossible times and situations that snap us out of our comfortable mundane existence have that kind of effect on us.
I doubt that it’s true )that there are no atheists in foxholes). As a generalization, though, there is some kernel of truth there. Many a person who has no interest in God, turns to God in times like these.
YouVersion, the maker of a downloadable Bible app, recently reported on April 15, 2020, historic numbers of people accessing their app, the largest increase in engagement with their app in the last 6 weeks during this time of worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. A record 1.6 million prayers were added in just one month. They claim the pandemic has triggered a virtual spiritual awakening.
The app tracks downloads. When I first checked it, I saw it had been downloaded 421,462,195 times. I started writing this piece a day ago, and I am just getting back to it now. Not quite 24 hours later, the app has been downloaded 421,546, 815 times. That’s an increase of almost 85,000 in less than 24 hours!
With the spike in downloads of just one Bible app (among many), it seems that people really are turning to Scripture in this time of crisis and difficulty.
That leads me to wonder: when the crisis blows over, will people go back to their “normal” lives? Will the new normal include daily Bible reading, prayer and meditation?
I went through a long period of time in my life in which I hardly read Bible at all. I had encountered God intimately and personally, and I had once been “on fire” for God, but I let the world and the cares of the world crowd out my time with God. It was a very long, dry and parched season of my life in which I truly wandered in the wilderness.
I learned, though, that God is faithful even when we aren’t. He waits for us to get thirsty enough to return to His well. He doesn’t leave us or forsake us, even when we wander off.
When I came to the point of realizing (again) there truly isn’t life worth living apart from God, I found that God was waiting for me.
During this time of sheltering in place, we have an opportunity to reestablish priorities and start new habits. Downloading the YouVersion app, or other Bibles apps, is a good start, and you can use them to renew or enhance your relationship with the God who created you and knows you better than you know yourself.
The Bible has never been more accessible. You can download the app for free, create an account, choose which version you prefer (or jump around) and get started right away. You will get a verse of the day every day, and you will have access to all the resources provided by YouVersion without cost.
The YouVersion app that provides many options for reading the Bible, taking notes, highlighting text, tracking prayers and other ways of maintaining “a daily rhythm of seeking intimacy with God”.
I am reading through the Bible chronologically using the YouVersion app right now. (Did you know the various chapters of the Bible jump around chronologically?)
The Bible app is easy to use. You can access it on your phone, iPad, laptop or any device that can connect to the Internet. With your phone, it goes with you anywhere. You literally have a Bible in your pocket.
You can personalize your reading by highlighting verses, keeping notes, tracking prayers and other things. You can use it as a resource to look things up. You can access dozens and dozens of plans for reading the Bible, including chronological plans, by subject matter (on hope, love, forgiveness, you name it) and other themes. There are even videos from various sources, including the amazing Bible Project.
Maybe you could even pick up that old worn out Bible you have (or the new one that is waiting for someone to crease its pages). The point is that now is the right time to get back into a daily rhythm of seeking intimacy with God.
We can’t follow Jesus vicariously. We have to pick up our own crosses daily and follow him. Now is a great time to follow him again, or to begin to follow him more closely. Or to start following him if you have never done that before.
No one stands in your way of reaching out to God. He is intimate with you, and He is waiting for you to want to become intimate with Him.
You don’t need a seminary degree or the title of pastor or priest to approach God. Jesus called fisherman (tradesmen) and regular people to be his most intimate followers. He is calling you too. Your response is at your fingertips and in your heart.