Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Rest In a Restless World

Even the most committed among the sunshine and lollipops crowd are starting to show stress fractures. Yes, as yet they are still smiling, but their chemically whitened pearly teeth are so forcefully clenched together that just an ounce or so more pressure and the veneers will crack. Even when the prosperity-positivity bus veered off track, suffered a couple flat tires and clipped a few cars by the side of the road, it seemed there were those who were still content with fastening their seat belts, sitting back, and waiting patiently to reach their final destination, having bypassed all the chaos of the world, having bypassed hardships and trials, and exiting the bus into the arms of a tolerant, all embracing deity who would usher them into their eternal rest, ever grateful that they gave him a try, and raised a limp hand in a church service.

Recently I attended a pastor’s conference, wherein the topic of discussion was whether we should give our people the truth, or give them hope instead. What many of the pastors in attendance failed to realize is that there is hope in truth, there is always hope in truth, but there is nothing but despair and agony in a false hope that never materializes.

The wise man prepares for the worst, the foolish man sits idly by and hopes against hope that things will either miraculously or magically turn around and get back on track.

We have been fed a lie for so long that when we hear the truth it unnerves us, it shocks us, and compels us to choose what to believe. Either we are hours or days away from being caught up into the great beyond, or we will have to brace ourselves and prepare for the chaos that is about descend upon the face of the earth like a whirlwind.

The stark, uncensored truth is that we are pulling pins on grenades faster than we can lob them, not only as a nation but the world in its entirety, and eventually, given enough time, when our arms get tired one of those grenades is liable to blow up in our faces.

It would be one thing if God were still with us as a nation, if every choice we made turned out to be the right one, and every turn we made at every fork in the road was the shortest route to our desired destination. As a friend of mine recently put it however, ‘it seems that God is angry with the world’, and calamity upon calamity is being visited upon the planet in its entirety. It’s one thing to withstand economic downturns, recessions, and negative outlooks on future earnings; it is something wholly different when God removes His hand of blessing from a nation.

What so many fail to understand is that what we are seeing is not the judgment of God poured out upon mankind, it is merely the removal of His blessing. Judgment hasn’t started yet!

All the positivity in the world will not spare us from the reality through which we will be living, and if we are caught unprepared it is no one’s fault but our own. We chose to stay on the bus as it was teetering on the edge of the precipice rather than diligently study the Word and actively strive to understand the times that we are living in.

I started this post with something else in mind, but as is often the case emotions got the better of me. No, I do not write out of anger, but rather out of a sense desperation because a frightening majority of believers today, sincere, honest believers, still cling to the idea that the worst is behind us, and we will shortly be removed from all the tumult and the brewing chaos of the world. I pray they are right! I pray with all my heart, and all my might that they are right!

Do I believe they are right? No, because the Word of God speaks of the times in which we are living, and if the Word was written exclusively for the children of God, then logic would dictate that those passages are in the Word as a warning to us that we might know what the future holds and not grow fearful. Another reason why God in His infinite wisdom forewarned us of the times and seasons that are upon us is so that we would not overreact as so much of the world has a tendency to, but rather trust, and implicitly so, that the One who foresaw these things also foresaw our means of shelter, protection and safety.

We must understand current events within the context of God’s word, and by doing so we see what will transpire next. Once again, and I must stress this because only I know how many e-mails I’ve gotten from believers looking for a place to hide, to escape, or otherwise flee, the purpose of knowing future events as presented in the Word of God, is not for our fear, but for our encouragement; not for our restlessness, but rather for our rest; not for our despondency but rather for our peace. God knew the future then, He knows the future now, and He will know the future tomorrow. If He is our Father, what have we to fear?

So back to the title of this post, and my initial intent for it: How can we have rest in a restless world? How can we see everything that is happening and still be at peace?

Short answer, trust in God and know that you are in His will. We must remember that although the Disciples of Christ were hysterical with fear, inquiring of Him if He did not care that they were perishing, all it took for Jesus to calm the windstorm and the waves beating into the boat and filling it were three simple words: ‘Peace, be still!’

It was after this that Jesus asked them a question that many believers should ask themselves today, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’

Jesus did not ask His disciples why they had so little faith, or why their faith wasn’t strong enough, but rather He asked them why they had no faith at all. I realize I am not ingratiating myself to anyone by saying this, but it must be said, it is time some of us looked in the mirror and asked ourselves the same question Jesus asked of His disciples.

‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’

From the e-mails I’ve been receiving lately it would seem that many believers are working themselves up into a fervor, each ‘alert’ or ‘breaking intelligence report’ more fear filled and imminent than the last. Ten different sources telling believers to do ten different things to avoid some calamitous event, whether the oil spill, the possible methane explosion, the coming earthquake, the New Madrid fault line, and the list goes on, but of all the ‘advice’ I’ve seen none of it was simply ‘peace, be still!’

We know these things are coming! We have known it for decades now, but this is no time for panic, but rather a time to dig deeper into our faith, to cement our relationship with God, and know His will for our lives as individuals. This is no time to cry out ‘do you not care that we are perishing’, but rather a time to say, ‘I have enough faith in my heavenly Father, I trust Him enough, that nothing will move me, nothing will shake me, nothing will hinder my stride toward eternity.’

We can have rest in a restless world precisely because the One we serve, the One who has saved us from the mire of sin and darkness has the power to speak to the storm and still it. We can have rest in a restless world because the One we serve is omnipotent and omniscient, all knowing and all powerful, and He promised His beloved that He would watch over them, protect them, and let no harm come to them.

This pace of alarming, disturbing, calamitous, and catastrophic ‘alerts’ is unsustainable, because we will all be shell shocked by the time the real trouble comes. God forewarned, not that you might fear, but rather that you might prepare, that you might have peace, be still, and know that He is forever and always, Alpha and Omega.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.


rleigh said...

I have been thinking alot lately about what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego said just before King Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into the fiery furnace: "...Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."
They knew with full assurance that God was able to deliver them from the fiery furnace, but their faith was such that even if He did not, and they perished, their peace and their foundation in Him was unchanged and immovable. No matter what is happening around us, no matter what is happening to us, no matter how unjust things may seem -- our God is the one true God, unchangeable, immovable, and our Deliverer! And we must never forget or lose focus of one truth that will not change -- He chose us for these times, we are not here by accident, He has a purpose and a work for each of us to accomplish while we are here, no matter what comes! He is able to deliver us, but if He does not we are able to stand firm in Him because of who He is and what He has done in us! Praises and glory to Him, forevermore!

Mrs. Pugh said...

I absolutely LOVE all the conspiracy/alternative/inside scoop/non main stream information on the internet! It's a blast, especially when, three months or a year after a breaking story, it finally reaches the main stream. I think it's fun. I like seeing God's time line coming to fruition. And, lets face it, a lot of those sites are more in tune to the study of end times than CNN!
That being said, it's really sad to see information put out in a sensational way and people reacting with a "how do I avoid it" mentality. We can't avoid it. We can't escape it. WE can do nothing but stay in the shadow of God's hand.
If you truly believe God protected the Hebrews in the furnace, Daniel in the den and Jonah in the big fish, why do you doubt Him now?
You can run willy nilly trying to find a "safe" place. You can stay where you are and live in fear and panic. Or,you can open your bible, read, listen and learn. Trust in the Lord. He will lead you. Maybe He will lead you to a different home. Maybe He will firmly tell you to stay put. Or, here's a thought, maybe He will call you home. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, "...I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;..." Don't forget the prize, people! Eternity with God! To be in His presence! To know Him fully!
These are exciting times. These are intense times. These are times where I pray Lord please keep me strong that I won't falter. Take away my fear and replace it with your peace.
It's okay to be concerned about your family's welfare. We are human, I don't think we can avoid it! But it's an outright sin to think God is so small you feel you need to take charge.
Pray, read, draw close.

Mrs. Pugh

Anonymous said...

Brave, vivid, and penetrating words you've given us here, Michael, along with rarely heard truths. Real meat for our souls! Again, I thank our Lord there's at least one pastor left who loves the truth and proclaims it fearlessly.

About keeping one's peace and faith in the storms of life, I'd like to add that it's difficult, maybe impossible, to do so if walking in any kind of disobedience to the Lord's commands. I've noticed this in my own life. Obedience and a pure heart seem to make it easier to have a strong faith, no matter what the circumstance.

Thanks for another powerful lesson!

Love in Christ,


Anonymous said...

Great Post Michael, It was very encouraging. We do have a "safe place" and that is in Jesus Christ, he is our Rest and our Secret Place, which is spoken about in Psalm 91. Talk about a book made for today-Psalm 91 is it!
It does have a condition though, for all of it's promises. That condition is that we abide [ live in] God's shadow.
I have been learning about abiding in Christ now for maybe 5 out of 25 years of knowing the Lord. I was one of those who were taught HOPE with no TRUTH. As a result, a new learning proccess has had to take place. I have had to learn not to trust in my own ability, strength, intelligence and understanding. Even if God blessed me with these things, I cannot trust in them, but must trust in HIM. I wasnn't taught that. Everyone said God gave you those gifts, trust in them. NO!...trust in God and know your strength comes from him not yourself!
I am learning! :) Praise God!
Thank you Michael