Dr. Jim Garlow presented the keynote address Thursday at the Iowa Prayer Breakfast. Garlow is the founder and CEO of Well Versed Incorporated, a ministry bringing biblical principles to governance. As part of a ministry that works with government officials, Garlow said he is aware of the pressure government leaders deal with on a daily basis.
“But they’re really under pressure now,” he said.
During this “grand global pause,” Garlow said the first question we should ask is what is God saying to us.
“I think God is speaking to all of us at this critical time,” Garlow said.
First, the idols are coming down. Sports arenas are empty, Hollywood is shut down, businesses and schools are closed, broadway shows and theaters are closed and Disney is shut down.
So, Garlow said, what are the idols in his life and our lives that God is removing?
Garlow said while we are physically removed from each other, it’s important to maintain social and emotional relationships. Isolation, he said, is a negative thing. Solitude, though, is positive.
“Solitude — time along for yourself, time alone with God, that is a good thing,” he said.
He quoted Psalm 46:10 — “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Garlow asked, when was the last time we were really still.
“We got an order to stay in our homes — all of us,” he said.
Then he noted the model for that in Scripture is April 8-16 — Passover.
This has thrust families to be together in a way that some may not want to be. But, Garlow said, children and parents are together in the way they ought to be. He referred to Deuteronomy 6 as an example for parents being the lead educator in a child’s life.
“This is an opportunity to turn each moment into a teaching moment that will speak into the lives of children,” Garlow said. “Decades from now your children and your children’s children will be hearing the stories about that time during the Coronavirus of 2020 and how mom and dad took us together as a family and how much that meant to us during that time.”
Garlow, a parent of four adopted children, said he and his wife raised the children and were involved in public school, charter school, non-public placement school and homeschool.
“I enjoyed them all, but homeschool was especially dear to our hearts,” he said. “Why was that dear to our hearts? Because I think it’s dear to the heart of God. The role of every parent is to be the ultimate schooling, educating force for their children. Now, suddenly, all of America is homeschooling.”
God is giving this time for families to think creatively. He encouraged Christians to participate in communion if their theology allows it.
“This is not magical, this is not superstition, this is a spiritual event where we say our home belongs to God, our children belong to God, everything we have belongs to God,” Garlow said. “This is what God is saying during this time.”
We’re also to care for each other during this time, just as in Exodus 12 during Passover. And, we are to declutter our lives and our homes and our schedules.
“Decluttering of ourselves in a way so we literally focus on God,” Garlow said. “That’s part of what God is saying.”
Rest is another aspect of this crisis. Garlow pointed to 2 Chronicles 36:21 where the land was not getting the rest it was supposed to, so God took it into His own hands.
“Is this too much of a stretch to say most of us haven’t observed the once every seventh-day rest,” he asked. “I’ve not done a good job of it. Perhaps you haven’t either. My Jewish friends in Israel do a considerably better job than we Christians do, at least the Christians I know here. We violate this principle.
“Is there a possibility that God said, ‘You know, enough of this. I’m going to close things down. You are going to rest.'”
Repentance is another aspect of what God may be saying, Garlow said. He said all good things come from God, while all heartache, pain, suffering, sickness, disease, tears and death comes from Satan.
“However, God can use what the enemy meant for evil for good,” he said. “Could this be a season in which we’re to move into a spirit of repentance nationally and personally?”
Garlow noted national sins such as violating the sacredness of life in the womb and the sanctity of marriage.
“I’m not an America basher, I’m quite the contrary — I love my country, I’m proud of my country,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t have national sins.”
Then, he added, it is important for us to repent of our personal sins. He pointed to Psalm 33:12, which states “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”
He told a story about being in college in Oklahoma City. One of the major broadcasting networks would display those words on the screen at the end of the local broadcast — blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.
“How far we’ve gotten from that,” he said. “You can’t fathom a TV station doing that today. It’d be unimaginable. If it’s true that blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, is it also true that cursed is the nation whose god is not the lord?”
Prayer is another part of what God may be saying at this time. Of those who pray daily, 86 percent are praying specifically regarding the Coronavirus, Garlow said. Of those who call themselves Christian in the U.S., 73 percent say they’re praying more now. Of those who say they seldom or never pray, 15 percent are praying now. And, of those who say they’re not religious, 24 percent of them say they’re praying.
“You see what’s beginning to happen here,” Garlow said.
There are other possible messages as well, but ultimately, Garlow said this is a time for everyone to prepare themselves and learn to be ready to die.
Garlow said if you’re born twice, you die once. But if you’re born once, you die twice. It is paramount we know Jesus.
“Then we can know, even right now we’re prepared for that moment,” he said. “Life is short. Eternity is long, and we can spend eternity with him.”