written by Mike Robson // April 2020

This is the road I drive along into town from my home in Lewes. It used to be a beautiful trip through a wood with trees overhanging the road, but no longer.
Recently, while driving through this scene of devastation, God spoke to me about what is happening here, about the coronavirus pandemic, and about the call to South Downs Awakening 2020.

The clear-felling is a response to ash die-back disease, which hit the trees of Lewes just a few weeks before coronavirus. It has had a devastating and transforming effect on the natural landscape. Curiously, my wife likes the change. She has lived in Lewes all her life and she can remember a time before trees grew up, and the magnificent view across to the Sussex Weald. This view, now revealed again, will disappear once more. The trees, now cut down, will grow back. It’s in their nature. The seeds have already been sown, and come to life.

I’m sure you can see the parallels with coronavirus, which has brought a devastating transformation of our social, economic and health landscape. But at the same time it has revealed a view previously obscured, of a life less frantic, less ready to take things for granted, more aware that we are part of something greater than ourselves.

What God said to me as I travelled through the devastated woodland was this: the natural landscape will regenerate, the question is, will we? Trees, given suitable conditions, are bound to grow. It comes out of the nature God has given them. But to us, He has given free will. 

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV

We have a choice: life and blessings, or curses and death. God is calling the life and blessings He has put in us to Awaken, to bring regeneration and transformation. But, unlike the trees, this will only come about as we respond.

As a consequence of the lockdown all gatherings, festivals and other events have been cancelled. All except one – South Downs Awakening 2020. Because it’s about prayer, across the land, it can happen, it will happen, it was meant to happen. God is Awakening what he has put in us, as surely as new shoots emerge from the ground, as beautifully as a new leaf in the spring sunshine. South Downs Awakening 2020 – it is our response to what He is doing. 

“When I … send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 NIV