Shortly after arriving in America, my parents befriended a Romanian family that had a pool. It was a big deal, especially for us kids. We lived in Southern California and the demographic my parents hung out with wasn’t the pool-having types. Romanians generally weren’t, not that the other immigrant families huddled in the apartments in our neighborhood were.
It takes a generation or two of hard, diligent, focused labor to get close enough to sniff the American Dream’s hair, ala Joe Biden, and even then, it’s tenuous on the best of days.
The other day I was having a conversation with my little brother, and one of the fondest memories we had of our childhood was when we had board meetings for the ministry because the hotel we held them in had a pool. That was the surefire sign of luxury as far as we were concerned.
Looking back, the hotel was a Holiday Inn, so even with the pool, calling it luxurious is a stretch.
It didn’t matter to us that the pool we went swimming in had green water half the time or that twenty other Romanian families also brought their kids; it was a pool. It got crowded to the point that all you could do was stand in the shallow end while other kids rubbed up against you as they shuffled by, but the water was wet, and you didn’t even mind it when little boys tried to pee on their siblings from the edge of the pool. You learned to bob and weave and hoped there was enough chlorine in the water.
Then one day, my parents decided to take us to the beach. It had been a year and change at least, and my dad finally summoned the courage to venture past the ten square miles that covered his job, our apartment, church, and the Price Club. The beach was a solid thirty-minute drive; none of it was the freeway. It was all city driving.
I think my mom invented what was to become the helicopter parent. It came from a good place, even if sometimes it was traumatic for us boys. For a week prior to actually going to the beach, she’d repeatedly tell us it was a dangerous place where the water would sneak up on you and drag you into the deep if you weren’t careful. To hear her tell it, a drowned child washed up on shore every few minutes. One wondered how anyone could do the backstroke in the ocean with all the dead bodies floating about.
I can’t say I wasn’t cocky for a ten-year-old, but I’d spent enough time in the pool where I thought the ocean would be of no concern. I told my mother as much, and even though she insisted the two were not the same, I was sure she was exaggerating.
It turns out my mom was right. There is a marked difference between standing in the shallow end of a pool and having waves come crashing down on your head every few seconds. After the third mouthful of saltwater and sand, I had to concede that although I was comfortable in one, I wasn’t so comfortable in the other.
By my count, there are at least four iterations of false prophets, false Christs, and individuals trying to deceive the people of God in Christ’s Olivet Discourse. Within twenty-two verses, we are repeatedly warned that deceivers will come, some even performing signs and wonders, trying to convince you that Christ is somewhere other than with you, in you, and in the Word. They’ll put on a good show, have masterful deliveries, plead with you, and entreat you to just go and take a peek.
He’s right there! Just go look! Some will say He is in the desert, others that He is in the upper rooms, but wherever they say He has been spotted, remember Jesus warned you beforehand that it would not be Him.
Overconfidence is how people get hurt. You may be just fine wading in the shallow end, avoiding deception and things that seem contrary to Scripture, but the season will soon be upon us when deception will come in waves. It will be so constant, violent, and discombobulating that if you are not firmly rooted in the truth, you will barely have time to catch your breath before the next wave crashes into you.
Use the time left to grow in God, cement your faith, and know the truth unerringly because no one’s building a house in the middle of a monsoon; they’re just trying to survive.
The building gets done before the storm comes. Faith gets built up before the just are compelled to live by it. It’s not an on-off switch. It’s not something that magically appears if you leave your credit card number under your pillow. Faith must be exercised, nurtured, fed, stretched, employed, deployed, and tested. It’s not so much like building muscle because to come back stronger, the muscle has to break down; it’s more like building a fortress one brick at a time.
Your priority isn’t to hyperventilate over what-ifs or to pack a bag every time someone says they know the date of the rapture. Your priority is to build up your faith as strong, tough, durable, and sturdy as you can before the waves come crashing against it incessantly.
I pray you take this advice to heart. If you do, you’ll thank me in heaven one day.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.
I thank you right now. Blessings
I look forward to thanking you in heaven one day. Blessings.
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