I've been re-reading some familiar New Testament passages over the past couple of weeks, and I am not alone it seems, as the recent report in Christian Today showed a growing number of people turning to the Bible for comfort and guidance.
YouVersion, the popular Bible reading app, revealed that engagement with its reading plans during Holy Week was 54 per cent higher than last year, and whereas 26.4 million Bible Plan days were completed during Holy Week 2019, that figure has risen to a staggering 40.6 million this year.
Like most of us of course, I have my favourite bits. For example, I have found myself being drawn back to Luke's well-known account of those two disillusioned disciples, one of whom may well have been Jesus' uncle, making their way to a village called Emmaus.
I reckon we could sum up their feelings in one word: heartbroken. They had entertained such high hopes for Jesus, but they had been shattered in the most horrifying way by his brutal execution. All they had left were their precious memories and their faded dreams. But suddenly, everything changed. Jesus suddenly turned up. I'm tempted to suggest they encountered the original 'dead man walking'!
I've been strolling down memory lane over these past few weeks too. One or two memories are a little embarrassing, such as the time I asked God to let Father Christmas bring me some presents even though it was still the middle of July. To be fair I was only seven at the time.
Then there was the earth-shattering afternoon when a nurse turned to my heavily pregnant wife and said, "Yep, there's the second head." Now that did come as a shock; the doctor had said nothing about twins. Until then, we all thought her dates were a little askew!
"Does it matter?" she asked. It most certainly did. We had both resigned our jobs and were about to spend the next three years 'living by faith' (i.e. with no guaranteed income) while I prepared for Baptist ministry. That had come as a complete shock too. Little did I realise that Jesus would 'turn up' at a small prayer meeting and turn a Bible reading into a personal challenge that would change my life.
Then there was the night I baptised a lady named Jo, only to have her sister approach me at the end of the service to tell me that she had been healed of her terrible arthritic pain. That came as a complete surprise too because no one had prayed for her!
And there was that unforgettable Friday morning when we received a request from some Christian friends in the former Yugoslavia. It was the height of the civil war and they told us that they desperately needed ambulances. Within hours of beginning to pray, we received an unexpected call from the West Glamorgan Health Authority informing us that they had four ambulances they no longer needed, so could we use them?
If I'm honest, I have to tell you that I've simply lost count of the number of times I've seen God meeting people's material needs, including my own. I can truly say that He has taken care of us over the years, often in the most incredible ways.
My recent strolls down memory lane have been anything but depressing. However, they have been incredibly challenging too. I have been asking myself what "memory making moments" I will create during this critical moment in this world's history.
The apostle Paul seems to hit the nail on the head when he says, "So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don't act thoughtlessly but understand what the Lord wants you to do."
Challenging, yes. But exciting too, because I've discovered that you never know what might happen when you have the Risen Jesus journeying with you.
Rob James is a Baptist minister, writer and church and media consultant to the Evangelical Alliance Wales. He is the author of Little Thoughts About a Big God.