As I was thinking about the fact that 2013 is almost upon us, I was struck by how very inspired I am now that I have been dedicating a lot of time to studying God’s Word and biblical prophecy about the end times and the eventual return of Jesus Christ. Who hasn’t had that on their minds lately? One only has to read the news for just a couple of days to start to wonder about it all. Even those who laugh about or brush off such things are finding themselves curious about what the world is coming to and what all this evil we see all around us really means.
God has truly blessed me beyond what I can describe as a result of this time spent attempting to wrap my mind around it all – I decided several months ago to seek out what HE says about the end of this earthly life as we know it, and I tell you now, my eyes have continued to be opened in new and intriguing ways!
The greatest personal blessing of all has been that He has diminished my fear about the last days and turned that into an actual anticipation instead. I no longer see it as an ending to life, or something to look upon with dread, but as what will be the beginning of our new, true life (the really good one) that we get to live for all eternity with Jesus (if we have indeed accepted His gift of salvation). To me, this goes beyond what I would consider to be wonderful news!
Along with that, the Lord has nudged me to begin to live my life in a different light completely – one in which I will no longer allow Him to fade into the background, but rather, will boldy declare His wonderful name and do my absolute best, through any avenue I can find, to spread His love and the message of salvation through Jesus Christ to everyone I possibly can. Because if there is any residual fear left at all in this area for me, it is for those who don’t yet know Christ as their personal Savior.
So to say I have no fear about the end times any longer (for myself and those I love who are saved by grace through Jesus) is completely and utterly true. For the first time in my life, I really understand what so many other Christians have been saying…..that we are to look forward to the rapture of the church with excitement and joy….that it’s a “blessed hope”, not something to be feared!
Part of what causes us to be able to do this is found by moving away from living for this world and this life, and fixing our eyes upon eternity. This is what my study in this area has done. But in reality, it has not been the studying that has brought this blessing into my life, but the movement of the Holy Spirit within me as I have spent time in the Word of God and prayed with the Lord about this subject. The LORD is responsible for this new found vision that I have, not me! It has been of GOD’S doing that I now have been refreshed and renewed in the knowledge of just how within our grasp a sight fixed on eternity, and a life spent with Him, is for us at this moment in time.
The time is now. The time has ALWAYS been now.
So I decided that would be a cool post to place on the blog – a post about why we need not have any fear when we think about the end times and the fact that we may already be living in the last days. I pondered how great of a thing that it is that we can begin a new year with no fear about this at all, and it is – it is truly awesome. Yet, as I prayed to the Lord about what He would have me share, He decided that wouldn’t be the main crux of the blog today. No, not at all. He put it on my heart instead to tell you something other than the fact that I have no fear about the end times, and that you need not fear either. He moved me to write about something even more important. It’s something that has to do with any fear we may experience at any time in our lives – not just in relation to the “end of the world.” Here’s the kicker:
He reminded me that the reality is, that I DO still have fear. And that I have plenty of it.
God shares a lot about fear with us in His Word. In fact, as I spent time reading the verses about this subject, I was at first quite overwhelmed by just how many there are. And then I realized that the reason God shares so very much with us about being afraid, is because WE ARE. We are afraid all the time. And that’s one of the many reasons why we need Him.
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. NIV
Did you notice this verse says “WHEN I am afraid”?
Yes, God reminded me that to say I no longer have fear would just simply not be true. I do still fear many things and I am sure new ones will crop up for me to contend with in 2013. But what is most important, is not trying to pretend no fear exists, but what I will do with it when it arises within me.
Will I choose to look to God, lean upon Him, and ask Him to take care of it for me? Do I trust Him completely to help me to turn that fear into a challenging situation, but one that has peace laced within, around, and underneath it (HIS peace, that only HE can provide)? Or do I either pretend the fear isn’t really there (go into my bubble) or cave into it some other way (self-reliance, anyone)? Long term, God says we should not fear. We should recognize fear when it starts to seep into our lives and remember to turn to Him. Then we can live without that fear being a black cloud over our lives. We can experience the peace that He offers to us to carry us through the darker times.
For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
To take hold of our right hand, we have to reach out in the first place. I often fall prey to not remembering how very important it is to “ask for help.” If we don’t go to the Lord and lean upon Him in fearful times, we will live with those scary things long-term, and they will overcome us one way or another. We must reach to Him to draw us up and out from the pit of despair, otherwise the fear becomes an inward cancer that can, and probably will, eat us alive. The Lord promises to help us, which in and of itself, is proof that we cannot do it alone. But we have to look to Him for that help. If we trust in Him, the unpleasant circumstance may not go entirely away, but we will have an underlying peace that will fight the good fight against the topical fears we are experiencing. Fear is a formidable enemy. Guess what? God is stronger.
So when I am fully honest with myself, I can anticipate lots of things I am afraid of in the new year we about to embark upon in this world. Let me list just a few of them here. You may be concerned about some of the same things that are on my list.
** Yes, I am concerned that more children may be brutally harmed or even murdered….
** Yes, I am concerned about what’s happening in the Middle East and what the fate will be of all who are not saved in our world…
** Yes, the fiscal cliff, Obamacare, tax hikes, businesses failing, the economy in general isn’t pleasant to think about….
** Yes, I have doubts about the moral fiber of our leadership in America and around the globe….
** Yes, terrorism, natural disasters, imploding countries, economic and moral collapse draws my attentive eye….
** And yes….more than anything, I grow more weary by the day about the fact that many are committed beyond belief to taking Christ out of our lives, our view, and our hearts!
** (I also have quite a nice list of petty fears too, my friends, so lest you be concerned that your list does not contend with such large-scale issues as what I just listed, you need not “fear”, as you are not alone…ha ha).
There is a lot to be concerned about….a lot to be afraid of…and a lot we could fear until our teeth perpetually chatter and we want nothing more than to roll up into the fetal position in a safe house somewhere. But truly, there is no “safety” without the Lord. NOTHING can take away what we have in Christ Jesus! I could die tomorrow, but that just propels me right into His arms for all eternity. So there you go.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
So, I realize now that the message I needed to share today was not that we should focus upon having no fear, because we will. It is not to develop a thicker skin, because too many things continue to happen in our world, that if they didn’t get under that skin, that, in and of itself would be scary beyond belief! And although we should all do everything we can to shine the light of Jesus all around us, we can’t do that by ourselves either – because that light comes from HIM, not from us.
No – what I need to tell you is that beyond anything else we could possibly do, what’s most important is the following:
In the new year, instead of anticipating no fear, I implore you – choose to draw near. We need to draw near to the Lord, our God for strength!
Draw close to Him when you feel afraid. Pray to Him and sing His praises in every way you possibly can. Through the darkness, allow Him to shield you underneath His mighty wing and He will protect you. He will draw us away from evil and bring us “into His marvelous light.” Bad things may happen, to others or even to us…things that will cause us to grieve immensely…but He will be there. It’s a promise.
He is our strength, our light, our salvation, our protector.
He is our only safety.
He will be and IS our “Blessed Hope.”
We need only to DRAW NEAR.
Reach out your hands. Open up your hearts and your eyes. Embrace Your Savior with every last fiber of your being. And DRAW NEAR to Your Father God.
He hears your cries, He warms your hearts. And oh, how He loves you so!
May the Lord bless you and keep you….make His face shine upon you….and give you peace. Everlasting peace.
8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8 NKJV