I was pregnant with my first baby when I said “I DO” to God. “Yes, I will covenant with You.”
It was much like when I married my husband.
I left the old me and started a new life.
I had an insatiable desire to know Him. I loved reading His letters.
A zealous fire burned in my heart. I so wanted to please Him.
I was led to make all kinds of changes because I didn’t want one single thing to come between us. And it was clear that dangerous temptations could lure me away. I wanted a clean break.
One night I got out of bed, cleared my shelves of all of my romance novels. I pitched them in the garbage.
Another night, I cleared my stack of cassette tapes. AC/DC, Fleetwood Mac, even REO Speedwagon. I’m not sure how I chose, but I kept my Phil Collins.
And The Cars.
Dale and I really loved the Cars when we went on road trips.
I feared falling away.
And I feared so much more than that. But it wasn’t the kind of fear that debilitated or paralyzed me like when I was having anxiety and panic attacks in my mid-thirties.
It wasn’t a terrifying fear like when you fear a bomb might drop on your house.
I read the book of Revelation.
As a mother, I became . . . alarmed . . . when I read the phrase in several places in that book, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the Saints.”
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.
It wasn’t the kind of fear that kept me up at night.
No . . .
It was more like when I feared the fire going out on a 20 below zero night in our big old brick house. The one that had NO insulation in it’s thick walls. On cold nights, somewhere in the back of my mind was the life-saving fear necessary to motivate me to go to the trouble to haul in the wood, stir the fire, clean the ashes.
Day after day after long, frigid-Wisconsin day. So many winters burning wood.
Those words from Revelation stoked a holy fire in my mama-heart to protect my children. To discover and impart whatever they might need for that kind of patient endurance.
And to fortify myself.
And anyone else who knew and trusted the holy fear.
Those are terrifying words, yes. But there is a confident expectation for the ability to patiently endure by living in obedience to God with faith in Jesus.
I had been getting to know Him. I’d seen images of Him on a cross all my growing up years. I’d walked the perimeter of the old country church building during Lent several times. Seen Him spit on, sneered at, flogged and forced to carry His own cross.
This calls for patient endurance for God’s people.
Jesus, how did you patiently endure the betrayal of a close friend?
How did you patiently endure the unjust, false accusation of the hate-filled crowd?
How could you keep moving after such a scourging?
How could you forgive them when they hated you all the way to death and instead of freeing the innocent, they acquitted a guilty criminal?
When they cried, “Crucify. Crucify. Crucify.”
We do this by fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before Him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
For the joy set before Him.
I understand this a tiny bit after laboring and birthing two children. After ripping apart and putting back together several homes. After caring for a lawn and a dozen gardens one summer to have a wedding in my yard.
My eyes were fixed on the prize.
Sitting at the right hand of the Father. That is what conquering Kings did after securing victory in battle. He had his sights set on securing victory over the darkness, taking authority back from Satan, granting pardon for His people.
“I did it Father! We’ve secured our Family’s freedom!”
Along the journey, while my two were still little people barely able yet to communicate, I landed my eyes on Deuteronomy 6: 4-14. Here I found what I had been seeking as a mom. As a daughter of God. The “how to” answer for my deepest desire.
To discover and impart whatever they might need for that kind of patient endurance.
*Side Note* If you are someone who came to Jesus after raising your children and the devil throws regret at you, resist him who is the accuser and stand on the promises of God for everything you desire. Psalm 37:3-6 [see also this post]
Last weekend I popped into Faith Community Church. Pastor Tim happens to be doing a series on Revelation. My ears were tuned, and my pen was busy recording what I heard in the message Fear Not . . .
It was all a beautiful reminder. The Lord Jesus, when you know and trust Him, alleviates all your fears.
“Sometimes fear is only fought and overcome with a greater fear.”
“One fear casts out another. For example, a woman, a mother, who is deathly afraid of going in the water, will run into the most tumultuous of seas when she sees her child drowning. One fear casts out another.”
“The goal as Christians is not to live without fear, but to fear what is most fearful.”
Pr. Tim Porter
You’ve perhaps seen the bumper stickers.
Well, they are as true as the sky is blue!
His love is perfect . . .as seen in His willing journey to the cross, it casts out all other fear.
Pastor mentioned that in Revelation, Jesus’ use of symbolism is likely intended to engage our imagination. “Because,” he asked , “Where does fear live? It lives in the imagination. Most of the things we are afraid of haven’t happened yet. We envision . . . worst-case-scenarios.”
“You know what we never, never, never envision in the worst-case-scenarios? The grace that God says He will give us.”
Whoah, you might want to read that again! In all of our imaginings of fearful situations, Jesus is not there!
That reminds me of something Oswald Chambers says, “Anxiety is calculating without God.”
And just this week I heard from another man of God, Pastor Greg Laurie. [Look what he just finished preaching on!]
“People ask how God can send people to hell.
This calls for patient endurance of God’s people. And if we are His, we will endure, because He who promised us Heaven is faithful. Hebrews 10:22-23