“Optimists”

No matter how much I’ve placed my life in the Lord’s hands, the current circumstances of a “world going mad” still challenges me.  Sometimes there’s fear, along with the grievance for the loss of freedoms (the assault on male and female created in the image of God), that awakens my desire to squelch the uncomfortable… and the thought of worse than just uncomfortable.  Then, I remember what I’ve learned, in my heart, when I’ve… run out of options… my back is against the wall… I’ve lost all hope in the flesh… and… I’ve placed my life in the Lord’s hands.

A few years ago, I wrote the essay, Gotta Have Money (see bottom of Writings page).

In the heat of this difficulty, my “preparation” is being revealed by where my heart goes and my mind tries to focus on.  Yes, we’re all challenged with the struggle between “prudence” and “faith”.  The Lord seems to test our “work” in the “heat”.  I do falter sometimes but repent, get up, refocus, and walk on.

As time has gone on, I’m reminded that I can’t out think or out prepare in the “woodshed or basement”, as it becomes more difficult.  I have to rely on the Wisdom from the Lord, which takes time and preparation to cultivate.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  I do not like admit sometimes… but, it’s the pain of stumbling, if I get up and continue to follow Christ, that’s part of the price for cultivating this growth.

It’s on the battlefield where theory is converted into… faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.  Where, what truly saves is revealed.  Is it positive minded “optimism” or… the Truth?

There’s the tension of… rejection of the world’s peace plan to have Peace with God… hating evil to love righteousness… laboring to find rest… enduring the “night” to see the “Light of the new day”.  I have to be awake and alert thinking about, weighing-out, observing, wrestling with, and deflecting the arrows of deceit shot at my heart… that threaten my faith in Christ.  Jesus’ words of John 14:27; Matthew 10:34-38 become real for me.

I’m tempted to think I’m “missing it” when the “optimists” claim… don’t pay attention to end-times prophecy… we can create the world we want… pursue your best life (wildest dreams) now.

The “optimists” highlight positive affirmations, using scriptures and clichés, of God’s blessings and protection.  However, they don’t include discussion about the implications of the 1st four Commandments for us—to reject all false gods… the practice of using them to get your… spiritual sizzle.  They don’t study how the God of Israel dealt with Israel’s idolatry in the Old Testament confirmed by the New Testament—that God doesn’t change to accommodate people’s current desires (I mean lusts).  Rather, these “optimists” look up to others who are chasing spiritual sizzle for their wisdom about “seeking God”.

The God of Israel’s desire, His will, is what prevails.  The idolatry just won’t stand up, give a person enduring strength to the end, when the “hand of the Lord shakes the world”.

Noah and his family sweated the labor and ridicule to prepare while the rest reveled in the pleasures of life.  However, when the “door shut” on the Ark, on their preparation, the tables turned.  Like, when it will happen, at the “Wedding Hall”, when Jesus Christ returns.  The last shall become first… the weeping and sorrow shall be turned to joy… the poor in spirit will become rich… and, vice versa.  Today, there’s struggle and discomfort in the fear of the Lord, conviction—being pruned by the Father God.

When they advocated the “lock down” and life changed, I thought about Numbers 21:5-10, where Israel was commanded to look at the bronze serpent on the pole Moses had made to have their life spared.  This represents Jesus on the Cross, who overcame to become the resurrected and ascended Jesus Christ, the only Redeemer and Savior for mankind (John 3:13-21).  This helped shift my focus off of the constant fear-based-incensed news coverage to what Christ provides for us and praying… Lord save us!

The story quoted below, I think relates to what I’ve said.  To successfully navigate the raging and murky waters of specific date-setters, false prophets, false shepherds, and those that predominately trust in science and man’s effort to be a god (the optimists), what will you lean on?  Will it be the “optimists’ spiritual sizzle”… or… the Truth of the Word of God?

On 9 September 1965, while flying from USS Oriskany on a mission over North Vietnam, [James] Stockdale ejected from his Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, which had been struck by enemy fire and completely disabled. He parachuted into a small village, where he was severely beaten and taken prisoner.

Stockdale was held as a prisoner of war in the Hỏa Lò Prison (the infamous “Hanoi Hilton”) for the next seven-and-a-half years.

In a business book by James C. Collins called Good to Great, Collins writes about a conversation he had with Stockdale regarding his coping strategy during his period in the Vietnamese POW camp…

I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.

When Collins asked who didn’t make it out of Vietnam, Stockdale replied:

Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.

Stockdale then added:

This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Source: James Stockdale, Wikipedia

The end being not the circumstances of this world, themselves… but, what they lead to—a world that will pass away by the wrath of God.

The end has to come so the beginning will start—being in the presence of God of Israel in the age-to-come… the Millennium… Eternity with the New Heavens, New Earth, and New Jerusalem, that lasts forever.

Finding the Lord is not hard.  He is found by just simply seeking and asking… praying to God (Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:9-13; Revelation 3:20-21).  He is not found through “spiritual gyrations and gymnastics” of attempting to go the heights of heaven or the depths of the grave and hell to invoke… spiritual sizzle… passed off as “experiencing God”… to “subpoena” the presence of God (Romans 10:6-14; Deuteronomy 30:10-18).

Jesus Christ is found among the living that have, or seek, His Life… not among the dead, and their works (Matthew 8:21-23).  The state of our condition is evidenced by what we pursue.

No… I’m not in this with you, together.  I’m in this with the Lord.

Why?

You have absolutely no power to save me, nor I, you, from disease… and, ultimately death.  Only Jesus Christ has this power to save you and me.  If you’re in this with the Lord, then, we’re both in this with the Lord.  If not, we’re not on “common ground”… no matter how much this mantra is being pushed by the popular, today.