As we start back with these blogs and this one in particular, we need to do a little cleansing of our 'brain pallet,' if everyone would be so kind as to indulge the process, we would be grateful. So before we continue reading let’s all grab our worst, very absolute worst case scenario that could ever befall us in this life. For some it may be going to prison, for others it may be losing everything, and yet for others it may be dying alone. Whatever that worst case is for each one of us, let’s imagine that tomorrow when we awake and start out our day like we always do, our worst case actually happens. It’s done. We are NOW living the most horrible thing that we thought we would NEVER have to live through. Have we all got that loop of how it could play out and what we would do during the events of the play out? Wow. What an awful thought, right? Now, the final bit of this heinous exercise is to answer the following questions: What would we do? How would we act? What is our ‘game plan’? How do we survive? If you haven’t read our earlier blog called “They’re Going to Take You” we recommend a refresh. We wrote that blog with our base being Matthew 24 and specifically relating to verses 9-13 (ERV), “Then you will be arrested and handed over to be punished and killed. People all over the world will hate you because you believe in Me. During that time many believers will lose their faith. They will turn against each other and hate each other. Many false prophets will come and cause many people to believe things that are wrong. There will be so much more evil in the world that the love of most believers will grow cold. But the one who remains faithful to the end will be saved.” This of course is not our favorite thing that Jesus said. This is the plot to a disaster movie set around an apocalypse, not something we (as believers) can look forward to experiencing! None the less, He did say it and He was talking about the end of the days on earth when us humans used to live in an imaginary bubble, thinking that we know it all and are in charge of it all; until things start going a little bit more sideways than we are used to.
At the start of 2020 we were all having a mind blowing sort of good time as we entered into an era when a second number 2 would be added to our year markers. When the pandemic was sweeping through the Chinese population we all watched in varying degrees of interest - because it was happening at a distance. The images of people being temperature checked before being allowed to enter a grocery store was unfathomable to us, until March rolled in and we began a collective union panic that would change everything. To a hypochondriac, this was the worst of the worst case scenes and to the rest of us, we all gradually found ourselves being marched into an era that we would have never thought we would possibly see, let alone in the ultra modern 21st Century. And as a warm up (of sorts) we watched the rights and free will choices that we once took for granted, being taken away ever so slightly ever so subtle, kind of like a lobster hanging out in that warm bath water on our stove top. Of course, this isn’t death or hatred as Matthew 24 describes and the last time we checked we still have a lot of love in our hearts; so what’s the connection?
1 Samuel 7:4 (VOICE)
“So the people of Israel got rid of their gods and goddesses, and they began to serve only the Eternal One.”
In the Rocky franchise, the third film contains the most complex and emotional story line of them all. Rocky (a fighter) is on top, the only one holding the coveted heavyweight champion belt. He’s fighting all the time and winning every fight. Until a small time unknown ‘wrecking machine’ calls him out. See, Rocky (unbeknownst to him) has been fighting lesser competitors because his manager didn’t think he would be able to maintain his numero uno position without a little help. Rocky has become somewhat of a showman at this stage. He’s rolling in money and most importantly, he thinks that he is truly the greatest fighter on the scene. As the story goes, Rocky discovers the scheme to keep him undefeated and loses his confidence in his own ability to be the champ, as he also must work through grief and the loss of his greatest friend; after all, he loses his first 'real' match to a small time fighter fondly named Clubber Lang. So this is the scene: Rocky and Clubber are in their final match and Rocky (as per usual) is taking a beating. He has battled his demons and has taken a journey to reconnect himself to that inner fighter. Toward the end of the match he reaches this moment of strange enjoyment at a most crucial juncture in this particular fight. And punch after punch to the face, he begins what some would call the turning point. “You ain’t so bad” is the line that he repeats after each and every blow, seemingly presenting his face to glove for hit after hit. Is he merely getting into Clubber’s head and messing with his confidence level? Or is our clever Rocky finally getting the point of it all?
James 4:7 (NASB)
“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
That word resist means to withstand the action or effect of. That word withstand means to remain undamaged or unaffected. In our lollipop version of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, we don’t get punched in the face by Clubber Lang and we certainly don’t get messed with by the devil! God wouldn’t let that happen, would He? Well, Jesus was pretty certain that we would face some punches, as He laid out for us in Matthew 24 (above). So as we begin to dive deeper into the wisdom and knowledge and understanding given to us by God, we begin also to see (possibly even experience) that this ONLY GOD type of lifestyle isn’t the shortcut to heaven on earth (at first), it is in many cases a long, arduous and trap laden off road sort of dirt trail that requires something more than what is required to simply attend church on a given Sunday.
In our worst case scenario (the exercise from the beginning of this blog) we all most likely have one common denominator involved - someone else is in control and we are not. That’s the boiled down version for every single one that we all came up with, and yes, it even applies to those who thought about sharks being dumped into a swimming pool while we alone are swimming in it. In all of these, we have lost our ability to control the situation, our lives, or anything else for that matter. This is indeed a human disaster. But what if we had already given up this very same control to someone else? What would happen if we remained unaffected and undamaged by the actions being taken by our worst case fears? What would it look like to have that worst possible thing come knocking on our door, only to find our amazing, miraculous God Almighty standing in the doorway on our behalf?
Romans 6:8-11 (NKJ)
“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once and for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
As a generic theme, we have been writing these blogs about our inherent need to do whatever we must do to shed our hearts and minds of our human thoughts and methods (the old way) in exchange for God’s best case scenario, since He is the One who created the heavens and the earth in the first place - ONLY HIM. This means that all of the Names that He has called Himself over the centuries would actually be who He truly is/can be in our lives:
Jehovah Jireh - the Lord will provide
Jehovah Raab - the Lord my Shepherd
Jehovah Rapha - the Lord that heals
El Shaddai - Lord God Almighty
...just to name a few.
The translation of these Names into our daily lives would then be that IF the Lord is our provider - then in the banking systems we no longer trust. IF the Lord is our Shepherd - then a 5 year plan we no longer need as much as we thought, because He is our guide. IF the Lord is our healer - then the AMA has surely just lost another patient hooked on their eternal medication plan. And of course, IF the Lord is our Almighty God, then we do not need to stress, fear or fret anything that may happen to us this side of heaven. For many believers, these Names of God are wonderful in theory and in their imaginations; but actually living a life with God (none other) as the only source for these is quite unheard of. It is even considered reckless in some Christian circles. And yet, in terms of being a wordsmith, God maintains a clarity throughout the ages of just exactly who He is.
Isaiah 51:15-16 (VOICE)
“Because I, the Eternal, am your God, I can make the oceans roil with storm and roll with great waves. They call Me, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies. I have given you My words to speak and protected you with the shadow of My hand. I am the One who pulled the skies tight and made the earth rock solid. And I am the same who said to Zion, “You are indeed Mine!”
The Apostle Paul spoke about the best case and worse case scenarios in his famous teaching found in Philippians 4:12-13 (NLT) “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” His language resonates within our hearts and reminds us of the same words spoken decades before him as Job finally realized just Who was in charge, and as David Psalmed it all up with his poetry in an attempt to draw our attention to our desperate need for God alone, then of course there is King Solomon who penned out the Ecclesiastes as he found himself with an aerial perspective of the hustle and bustle that we humans cling to in our lives. And through everyone who dips their toe into the eternal questions, we see the same pattern of revelation emerging: whatever it is, WHATEVER IT IS, when God is the actual and only leader of who we are it just ain’t so bad. From the worst of the worst case life choices to the high life of luxury and frivolity and everything in between - the key to maintaining who we are (heirs of the Most High) in any given situation is sticking our eyeballs firmly to the TRUTH of the Word and keeping them fixed upon Him no matter what happens. Because there will come a time when the life that we once knew is pulled out from underneath our feet and rather than choosing to sink or swim - with God in control of our every move - neither will apply, as we firmly plant our feet on top of that liquid and continue walking with Him leading us above it all.
Let us leave you with the immortal words of Peter & Jesus, of Matthew 14
“Lord if that be you, bid me to come; COME, Jesus replied.”