This may be the most personal one I've written yet.
My biggest fear.
Change. Not the change that moves me from one country to another. Not the change of moving into a different house or making new friends or finding a new church. Not the change of kids growing up (although that one does get my heart a little weepy.)
It's the change that hasn't happened all the way yet. The one where the world is all shaken up. The change that JESUS talked so much about. You know the whole earthquakes, persecution and messed up world that is coming. Granted, all those things are happening now.. full force in some places...just not in America in the measure that it will soon, I believe.
Why does that make me so scared?
JESUS said this would be the time to stand up, lift up my head and watch because it's soon. But for years, whenever I think of these things, I get really scared. I don't want things to change that way.
When I was in Guinea and there would be civil unrest and craziness in the government, I was all right. Really, I was. I wasn't scared because I knew that somewhere across the ocean was a country I belonged to where I was free to worship. I could go to a grocery store and there would be food. The things I had to worry about there were really unimportant in the scheme of things. There I felt safe and free and happy. I know that is changing. I know there are serious...very serious problems. But this isn't a political post. This is about something bigger.
So, knowing that I had that beautiful land called America, I could cope with the unrest and the riots and the craziness.
The realization of that ministers to me...at least it should. This world is not my home. There is a KINGdom and a KING whose throne is sure. That is where my true citizenship lies. This world, America and the rest of it will pass away. I'm not a citizen of them. I am a citizen of the city without foundations. That kingdom will not fall. That kingdom will not be shaken. So, why should I be?
That's truth. That's reality. May GOD drill that into my heart!
Over the last weeks and days I've come to see this fear more clearly as what it is, a stronghold...a piece of ground in my mind and heart that I've allowed the enemy to occupy. I read something once by Francis Frangipane where he wrote about Genesis 3 when GOD tells the enemy he will eat dust and then HE tells man that he is dust. Frangipane's point was this: anywhere in our lives that we choose to live in the carnal flesh (dust), the enemy will feed upon.
Here's why I am sharing this. I don't think I am the only lover of GOD who feels this way. We know we should be excited about what is to come. We know we should be brave and fearless...but we aren't. GOD has been ministering comfort and courage to me in this and maybe it will encourage you like it has me.
HE reminds me that this time is like childbirth. There is pain and hardship but something very very wonderful is coming. Isn't it so much easier to deal with hardship when we know that there is something very good coming out of it? This something is so good that it will never again be taken away. It is a lasting, final good.
HE also reminded me that HE is the AUTHOR OF SALVATION. Salvation is a lot more than just the moment we respond to JESUS' call. It's everything from that point where we die and are born again in HIM all the way to beyond when we physically die and are resurrected never to die again. HE saves. That's what HE does. HE is a RESCUER and a SAVIOR. I serve a GOD whose very name means HE rescues us from trouble...and from death itself! Why am I so fearful that HE is going to cause me trouble? Following JESUS is not easy. It's a wild life. It will likely have many hardships...but as the Word says "The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all" Ps 34:19.
I don't need to be scared. I cannot let myself be scared. HE told me not to "let" my heart be troubled. I am weak and can only stand in GOD's strength...but that is exactly what HE wants me to do: Stand. Be strong in his strength. HE wants me to stop whining and worrying and cowering in fear. HE has given me boldness and strength and HIS very SPIRIT to know that HE is true and righteous and completely in control. I have to believe HIM. I have to walk in it. I have to be strong in HIS strength. I have to.
An added bonus to this one: There is a picture I have carried around in my mind. It's an image that fills my mind with such vividness that I feel I am almost there in that place. This picture shows up a lot of times...but mostly when I play a certain song. This song:
At about 2:28 in this song the music changes from good worship to something else. The choir comes in and as if a curtain is lifted, the picture comes....
I am standing in a crowd of people all encircling the FATHER. We are all dancing. I look to my right and beside me are my Guard Your Heart Girls (my teen girl ministry in the States). I look to my left and there are my beautiful African women dancing with babies tied on their backs and arms lifted in worship. In front of me are the beautiful Asian women I used to teach in women's bible study when we lived in Japan, their straight black hair flowing down their backs. Behind me are the Portuguese...I can't see them yet. I just know they are there. I look across the sea of people and I see my three children. They're each in a different place dancing with their own people surrounding them. They see me and we smile at each other...smile and cry for joy. And the dancing goes on...
That's what is waiting for me. There, with HIM and all HIS different marvelous people...pure joy.
That's worth whatever it costs.
HE is worth whatever it costs.
Be strong and courageous...