Before you read on, we should state the obvious: I am fully aware that it seems self-serving for an article such as this one to be written by the vice president of our university here at IHOPKC. Therefore, I would like to say at the outset that my primary motivation for writing this article is not to convince you that our university is the best place to spend the next year of your life. I am writing this with a very different goal in mind. I am sober yet filled with faith and gratitude to the Lord in the midst of the forces currently shaking the nations of the earth. Ours is not the easiest of seasons to traverse together, but in the midst of the difficulty, there is also a profound opportunity.
You have, right now, a historic opportunity to take this year to prioritize and accelerate your foundation in the Word of God and your life in Him. Wherever the Lord sends you in order to fulfill that mission, I am confident that you will never regret putting other things on “pause” to put your heart before the fire of the love of Jesus.
Recently, Mike Bickle and I hosted a webinar entitled Seven Essential Ways to Prepare for the Next Global Crisis. I highly recommend setting aside an hour to watch. Why? The global pandemic, racial conflict, and recent protests are sobering. However, they are but a mere whisper and hint of the shaking and conflict that lies ahead for our nation and many others. I liken the current trouble to a small “pop quiz” that reveals our true condition as a church and as individual believers. The underlying benefit of these kinds of seasons of testing and trial is not that we would “fail” but that our current spiritual condition would be revealed. Once the truth about how we are really “doing” in our journey to love Jesus is revealed, the Lord can work with us to turn all things for our good (Romans 8:28). We grow stronger by grace when we discover—without shame or condemnation—where we are weak and where Jesus can make us stronger in Him.
The seven essential areas to focus on in a season such as this one are areas of intentionality related to our time, energy, and finance in order to prioritize our long-term life in God. What critical actions must we take in light of the hour in which we live? The marks of spiritual preparation in light of future trouble are the actions we take to ensure that our perspective, emotions, and priorities align with the eternal value system of Jesus. As Jesus Himself stated, we “build our life on the rock of His words” (Matthew 7:24–27). We can find ourselves in the next crisis with a very different outlook on life, the heart and wisdom of Jesus, and great confidence in His love and leadership as the pressure increases globally. Global pressure does not have to stoke personal fear. We can build a life of intimacy and impact by grace, a life that can bear the weight of pressure and trouble. We can thrive emotionally and spiritually in a way that empowers us to love and serve those around us who are struggling.
As colleges and universities around our nation face uncertainty related to their plans for the fall, you can make a different decision regarding your immediate future. There has never been a better time to put the normal course of life on pause to do the extraordinary. I want to emphasize again, however, that this is not just an opportune moment to pause and spend the next year pursuing Jesus with increased focus. This is the most critical moment to do so in our lifetime. As the great missionary George Mueller once stated, “Find what God is doing in your generation and throw yourself at it with all your might.” In this generation, there is a grace for spiritual preparation and growth in love for Jesus that far exceeds the intensity of the hour.
Uncertainty around our nation makes a gap year a great idea; crisis makes a gap year non-negotiably urgent. In light of the urgency of the hour, I will say this again: you will never, ever regret a year (or more) in which you set aside the normal course of life to put your heart before the fire of Jesus’ love. Consider spending a year with us here in Kansas City, if the Lord leads. We have phenomenal gap-year options for you to pray about with our family. Beyond that, however, my prayer is that you spend the next year anywhere in which the end result is that you love Jesus more, are more filled with confidence in His love, and are equipped with more perspective from His Word. In the grace of God, you do not have to waste a crisis. You can emerge from this crisis far more prepared to engage confidently during the next one.
How is the Lord leading you to respond in this crisis and prepare for the next?
Want to know more about online and in-person options at International House of Prayer University? Check out ihopkc.org/globalclassroom to see our new global classroom and dates for our upcoming semester.