Sitting on the edge of change is a precarious place. One does not know if change will actually arrive yet she (or he) can be hopeful, patient, exceedingly frustrated . . . .
There’s a scandal going on in the wild West of the United States this week, as the federal government’s Bureau of Land Management attempts to overtake the ranch and cattle of a family that has used the lands for decades. Under the guise of protecting an endangered turtle, the government is not only rounding up cattle but cutting off water supplies; federal authorities are superseding State land rights and intimidating the family with physical force. The conflict has incited anger from local ranchers and national militia in addition to the Tea Party (political party). Underneath the issues may be a US Senator’s covert, personal involvement in building a solar power plant on the land in a $5 Billion deal with China. This all comes at a time of unprecedented changes in our country. A juicy story indeed.
This is an incredible time to be alive. This is an incredible time to be an American. This is also an incredible time to be a Christian. We can easily look to the incredulous shift of power in our country from the citizen to the increasingly tyrannical government, laden with moral and civil/financial corruption, to see that life in these United States has changed. The effect of Obamacare; immigration, voter and currency “reforms;” and more just may eventually make democracy in America a distant memory. Sure there may be pockets of freedom. However, that freedom is shrinking every day. Can you say, “microchip?” Don’t get me started on that one! If this blog goes away suddenly then you will know that the NSA (National Security Agency) has removed my First Amendment rights to free speech. While that is not o.k., there are more important topics to me which will never be silenced . . .
My incredibly wretched health challenges these past two years have reinforced beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is in control of everything. He has been with me on my bed of sickness, making Himself real to me and sustaining me through it all (Psalm 41:3). I draw my faith from the Bible. Through His Word, the Lord our God tells you and me through the story of Moses that those who believe in the Lord are to:
6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31
Those words ring true today as well. I have cried out to my Jesus during wretched, daily seizures and He helped me, comforted me. My faith and resolve are strengthened not weakened despite the difficulty. Further I am encouraged that when tyrannical kings came up against the Lord’s chosen people through the ages, He reminded them over and over again in the words of the prophet Jeremiah:
19 They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 1:19
This rescuing may be from illness or other trials of life; the rescuing may be from the consequences of something much worse to what beyond our control: the wretched effects of sin and living in a fallen world. The rescuing may not come until the day we die yet IT WILL COME! After all it is because of the sin of mankind that we suffer. Gratefully we are not alone in our suffering. Gratefully there is an antidote to our suffering such that someday we are assured that it will end! Related to our personal suffering, the Apostle Paul concedes that his own health issues were used by God for good:
Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. (Colossians 1)
From these inspiring words I draw strength to persevere when my body is failing me. What can I do? I can write about matters that transcend the mundane issues of my day or even the crises blasting forth from every news channel. Want Christian news? CNN? Facebook news? Tonight Show news? It is everywhere bombarding us with allegory, truth, and propaganda alike. In the end this kind of news will not matter. The God of the universe reigns above all. He will come again in glory to rescue His own, to make things right. That is Good News! We can trust in His Word on this since before time began He told us, “I am.” Evidence of his sovereignty goes beyond evidence of intelligent design. Evidence of a loving and righteous God dwells within your heart and mine. Think about it! Otherwise we would not wrestle with themes of morality, existence, meaningfulness. If God did not exist, I would fight my illness with whatever snake oil came along and the Bundy family would use their crisis merely to incite a riot (or worse, civil war) to achieve survival of the fittest and not to seek what is “right.” Our search for what is right ultimately helps us hold out for the hope of heaven where all things will be made “new.” (Revelation 21:1) In the meantime:
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)
The power to do these things on our own exceeds our humanity. The Lord adds His infinite increase though the work of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us when we come to faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. This blog will make little sense to you, Gentle Reader, apart from Christ. I submit to you that finding the gifts of the Spirit in these alarming times [peace, love, joy, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, self control (Galatians 5:22-23)] are great rewards for becoming a Christ-follower. These rewards transcend and redeem our personal suffering, the troubles around us, the regrets buried in our hearts, and so much more.
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Those who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have an undeniable asset in these times. We know Who the victor will be in all things and this includes those things that are evil. As some recite in the Twelve Step Programs of recovery from addictions, we will know that “this too shall pass.” (See Revelation 21:4) In the meantime we are to live our lives seeking the Lord and living as He commanded, guided in love by the Holy Spirit.
The decision to follow Christ has led me to the only way I could have survived many sorrows. I submit to you that it is a great way to live life as I know it in the times that try our souls.
Here’s a meditation for believers to transcend the times, straight from the Word of God. I pray that the frustrations posed by our tumultuous days will draw us to His throne of grace in sweet fellowship and will be used to bring glory to the Father Who loves us beyond what we can ever imagine. In all things:
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12)