Secret Apprenticeship

On Friday, I watched the press conference where Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvarado declared it’s time to “put the hammer” to the virus. By keeping people at home so they can better trace who they’ve been in contact with.

I scoffed.

Then they went on to tell us all the “sanitary restrictions” that they are imposing on us. Just like they did during Holy Week. We can only drive on Sundays and Thursdays. When will this end?

I rolled my eyes and thought, “I don’t know why they respond to this virus by asking us to hide. Won’t the same virus be there when we come out? Surely there’s a better way to beat it.”

I felt the LORD’s rebuke, “What if they are doing the best they know how?”

I have a confession. I have been fighting this quarantine from the beginning. Fighting, fighting, fighting. Resisting, complaining, arguing, angry.

When I talk with people who have enjoyed the time, who seem to be learning so much, or who have faith in how God is at work, I feel annoyed or lost, like I’m missing out on something. And I am.

But after hearing the LORD’s rebuke, for the first time in four months, I feel at rest. Like I’m finally syncing up with the LORD’s agenda. I can embrace the moment.

Do you remember the 80’s movie “The Karate Kid”? It’s a movie about a new kid who is bullied, so he finds an old sensei who will teach him karate so he can defend himself.

The first part of his training doesn’t seem like training at all. Mr. Miyagi appears to be having him do his busywork, his household projects. Wax on, wax off. Paint the fence. Sand the floor. 

But Daniel doesn’t see it that way, and he’s ready to quit. “Ah, not everything is as it seems…” Mr. Miyagi replies.

But he’s been in secret apprenticeship, as Mark Buchanan says in his book “Things Unseen: Living with Eternity in Your Heart.”

This quarantine is our secret apprenticeship. And we may or may not yet know what God is teaching us.

Let’s look at 2 Timothy 4:1-8 for some of our curriculum.

2 Timothy 4:1-8

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,

This is where we find ourselves. Always.

who will judge the living and the dead,

Those who die from corona and those who are asymptomatic

and in view of his appearing and his kingdom,

Because we know that this world is not our home

I give you this charge:

These are your marching orders

Preach the word;

Speak Truth, read scripture, declare His story, sing your devotion loudly

be prepared in season and out of season;

When it’s convenient and when it’s not, when you feel like it and when you don’t, when it seems normal and when the world is on its head

correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

Truth spoken in the language of love always sounds like freedom. Don’t should on people. Call them higher patiently.

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

One of the hardest things about this moment in history is that there are conflicting narratives. People are fully convinced that what they believe is right. Like wearing masks is the least you can do. Or wearing masks does nothing.

But you, keep your head in all situations,

Every. Single. Social media. Interaction.

endure hardship,

Quarantine, isolation, and restrictions are hard! But we are designed (and commanded) to endure them!

do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

Keep being who God called you to be. Express it in new ways, figure it out, keep moving forward, stay faithful to God’s calling. All. The. Duties. Fulfill your ministry calling. Just that the context changed, your calling didn’t change.

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.

We are to give ourselves entirely to the LORD, without holding back, without reservation.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

It’s ok to fight. But pick the good one, the one outlined for you by the LORD. And to keep the faith, you must work. Faith without works isn’t.

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness,

A “corona de justicia” as the Spanish version reads. Corona does not define me. Instead, the crown of righteousness is my reward, my future.

which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—

It is always the LORD’s doing. It’s in His hands. All of it.

and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

The great cloud of witnesses. Look around. We are future inductees by God’s grace. This is our story. It’s our hope.

So while we’re in our secret apprenticeship, not knowing all that the LORD is training us in and for, 

stay with His program.

Fulfill your ministry calling. Fight the good fight. Keep the faith.

​Last thing. I originally wrote this for a sermon I preached on Sunday for the VidaNet staff, our next-door neighbors we’ve been worshiping with since the quarantine started. The very next day, their founder DeLynn Hoover died of a heart attack. He was 48, leaving behind his wife Gloria, daughter Carmelinda, and son-in-law Vincent. It is unthinkable, unimaginable. We’re all still in shock. I thought I was just encouraging them for the difficulty of quarantine. It turns out God knew precisely what they’d need. This Fertilizer is dedicated to DeLynn. He passionately devoted his life to making disciple-makers. VidaNet is an organization committed to transforming lives and communities through discipleship in Central America. If you’d like to donate to VidaNet, 

click here