(Today's post by Keith Senator)
Have you even thought about the cycles in nature and how there is a preparation, a climate for conception/planting, birth, life/growth, and death?
How about within your own life, have you experienced having a child? Just before child birth, there are contractions, they come in a rush, almost unbearable, then they relax. Then they come back really strong again, then they relax. It is no accident that we have been designed this way. In fact, we see this in various places in our life. There are warning sign of sin in our life before it matures to produce some very devastating consequences.
In a similar way, check out Jesus in Matthew 24. He is explaining to the disciples how things will go down, the destruction of the temple and the signs of the end times:
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
The story escalates with incredible persecution and unbearable circumstances. Then we see a shift, a birth if you will:
29 “Immediately after the distress of those days
“‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’[b]
30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth[c] will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.[d] 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
This is referring to the end times of course, but I like to think of it in terms of cycles or a process that we can use and see in our lives almost every day. Sure in this case, we see the persecution of the church and the reward to follow when you remain faithful. But surely you can see how God uses the exact same approach in our daily lives.
We do not think it is an accident that we face trials and adversity in our life do we? We do not think this is really to provide an opportunity to bring glory and honor to God?
It is like the process of purifying precious metals, the heat is turned up and left on for an extended period of time. Over time, the impurities rise to the top, are burned off or removed, and what remains, it the real deal.
I have always wondered what I would do if I was asked if I was a Christian under penalty of death. I always thought, surely I would not tell them I was a Christian, for there is no way they could really understand the true term and would require some time for me to explain it under different circumstances (bit of a coward). But I think this is very natural for one who is young in the faith. As we get older and more mature, we see God’s hand in our life. We see him in the good times and the through the bad. Our circumstances begin to grow our Christian character. We come to a place of trust, real trust. In the end, even our own lives are held with an open hand to be taken at will, without regard, for we truly trust Him. And until we come to this place, we truly do not understand. Upon this understanding though, suddenly, we have this true power of God in our lives. Without the fear of losing our stuff, our money, our security, our own lives, the enemy has no power over us. We are ready to be used, we are ready to really live for the rest of eternity.