Saturday, November 06, 2021

Holding On When You're Slipping


I normally don't like to borrow someone else's great illustration, but this is the exact image I need to capture for the expressions of the moment. So I must credit Pastor, David Filson (Nashville, CPA) for the image because he was the first one I ever heard use it.

A friend was visiting his neighbor's pool with his very young son. Young enough to still have 'swimmies' on the arm. After a lot of fun with dad in the shallow part, the boy mentioned, and the dad coaxed, the lad to possibly try the deep end.

We aren't talking about the diving board, that was a boundary still too distant. This is simply a 'jump in from' the side to the arms of dad where the water was way deep over the boy's head. After several minutes of encouragement, the young boy, sans the floats, stood and trembled.

The dad stood in the middle, he had his arms open for the boy to leap to him and kept saying, "You can do it!" "Jump!"

And after minutes of stance and stops, almost jumping and retreats.... he jumped!

A big splash and underwater for a second, the panicked boy flailed at the dad.. and the dad just picked him up.

But the boy didn't feel secure...sunscreen, broad shoulders, and water have no handholds.

"DAD!" "Help me, you are so slippery!"

And I pause here with the promise to finish the quite common occurrence all through the summer season that we will all long for soon but grew tired of as well.

There are times that my father, my faith feels so slippery. I'm trying to hold on.

At times, faith feels like that stupid bar of soap I drop in the shower and curse the fact that I have to bend over again to wrestle with it.

And it is so weird where the help to hold on comes from. Scripture on the end times.

I first read Revelation when I was 17 and I hated it. It was weird, terrifying, and there was nothing about it I liked.

Now I read it at 57 and find it a healing and a hand hold as I once again have to look in the mirror and wonder aloud at pain, and suffering, and sin. The world's sin and my sin.

It isn't just Revelation.. the Bible is full of descriptions about how it is going to end. It has clear warning that our life is just a vapor and we are not guaranteed even one more heartbeat. There are people TODAY who will not have a tomorrow on this planet.

And the Bible is also very clear that there will be a day, one day, where the Lord will say "NO MORE DELAY" and the end will come with a sign in the east and a universal blast of trumpets and angels. The invisible will suddenly be visible. Faith exists without sight and the appearance of Jesus is the closing of the door of salvation based on grace through faith.

In my Bible reading today, I stumbled on the BEST of all apocalyptic messaging... the so called "Little Apocalypse" in Matthew 24. And I could put on my Eschatology glasses and explain my 'partial preterist' views of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and on and on and on.

But this morning... three stark statements jumped off the page at me:

Jump 1

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. (Matt 24:9,10 ESV)

I feel the chill of a cold fall... daylight saving time ends tonight... as the days get darker and colder I worry about the coming persecution to those who refuse to give up a simple belief in Christ and the truth of God's Word. The less the Scripture is read and proclaimed, the more likely that we will see this in our midst. It is there now, but it is getting bolder and colder.

I have accepted the fact that there are people who hate me just because I am aligned with Christianity.

But it doesn't mean I like it. It doesn't mean it doesn't bother me. 

What hurts the most is when the animosity comes from within. I don't want to ever see betrayal and hate on the inside... but at times it happens. And it is grievous. But I also have to admit that I can also be a problem and not a solution.

One way this truth helps is to realize it as a fact... this gets me to a place of forgiveness sooner.

Jump 2

And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. [13] But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12–13 ESV)

Boy, this one will preach. Does anyone really know LOVE? I say "I loved that pizza we had for lunch" and then turn  around and say "I love you" to my wife, family, and friends.

Love, like pizza grows cold. And unconfined, unbridled, unconfessed sin hinders the tindering of love.

Love must be stirred, remembered, stressed, demonstrated.

Why does increased lawlessness make love burn down to embers? Because lawlessness is ultimately selfishness.

One of the saddest verses in the Bible is the last line of the Book of Judges.

 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25 ESV)

Look around you and see this reality with your own eyes. And it isn't true of just you or the 'world'... it is also true of me.

We have all kind of opinions and politicians on what needs to be done to turn our land from hate to love. Unless we bow to a King and dethrone self... love will continue to shrink.

But Jesus never ends on that last line, he adds the truth:

But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

"DAD!" "Help me, you are so slippery!"

Jump 3

 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14 ESV)

When will the end be? For some it could be today. For a dear and loving man I know it was on Thursday and I am still hurting for his family.

But there seems to be ample Biblical support that THE END comes at the end of the plan of proclaiming the gospel, possibly when the last of the elect bows his or her head in obedience to faith, the curtain will drop and new beginnings of the eternal plan will commence.

So I am the relentless optimist who ends some days in clouds and gloom, but I arise to proclaim the good news of the kingdom.

"DAD!" "Help me, you are so slippery!"

You probably know the punch line by now..

Can you hear the laughter of the father and the joy in his voice.

"You are OK my son, I am holding on to you!"

If you are His Son, He has a bond sealed in blood, guaranteed by the Spirit, eternal GRIP on you.

And that is our only hope.....

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