It’s that yawning week between Christmas and New Year’s when your thoughts are split between relief that all the busyness of the holidays is behind you and apprehension about what the new year holds. With our world winding down to its “END”, I wonder every time the sun sets on a day, “What if this was my last ____?” We can fill in that blank with “last Christmas”, “last New Year”, “last night in this house”, “last trip to the grocery store”, “last day on the job”, “last slice of pie” or “last load of laundry”; and the list (or the “lasts”) could go on and on because we do live in a temporal world. Every detail of our earthly lives will pass away, and every soul who ever lived will experience an Eternity that is vastly different from anything they knew on earth.
Yet, this is not a frightful thought for any of us who belong to the Lord, because we know from the scriptures that, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) What God has prepared for us is far more wonderful than we could ever even imagine! We know His plans for us are good, and our future with Him is bright and adventurous in every way. Since my fourth grandson left this dark world for Paradise five years ago, I think often of what Heaven will be like. I think of him, Bradey, up there with Jesus in Paradise right now; and of what he must be doing while the rest of us are passing the time away on Earth waiting for “the voice of the archangel, and…the trump of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) to call us heavenward to meet Jesus in the air, and we are to “comfort one another with these words.”
The “end of the world” is a dominating fear these days, but for Christians the greater cause for alarm, by far, is the apathy all around us in our homes and in our churches. It is like a thick, soul-ish fog which gathers slowly around our minds, our wills and our emotions. It is the creeping Mist of Compromise that weaves in and out of our daily activities; and while we playfully dance around it, dodging it here and there, its magnetic power is subconsciously pulling us ever downward and away from the higher ground of our faith. God gave me a picture of a person engulfed in the things of the world. There is a reason why the apostle, John, told us in 1 John 2: 15-17 to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” Here he warns the saints that the things our eyes and our carnal minds so easily tend toward are not from God, but from the spirit of this world that is soon to pass away. Yet how easily we succumb to its drawing power! And how quickly we excuse the error of our way.
In this picture God gave me, I saw someone submerged under water. Their vision was blurred, their hearing was completely muffled, they had no control of their feet because they were floating instead of standing on solid ground, and if they breathed in–even a little bit–they would drown! How perfectly illustrative of what the ways of the world do to us! We dance around the temptations, thinking that we have control and are in no danger; but soon we become accustomed to the creeping mist so that we do not try to dodge it anymore but are quite comfortable with its darkness swirling around our feet–we can step out of it any time, we tell ourselves. Without warning, however, it creeps higher; and once it is around our waist, it is much more difficult to move away from it. Yet–we convince ourselves–we can still see where the air ends and the mist begins, our arms are free to reach for the boundaries we have set for ourselves, and our minds are still rational enough to choose; so we are not worried and we relax a little more. As the Mist of Compromise rises to our necks, however, it is not light and easy as before; it is heavy against our hearts–like standing in deep water. We feel vulnerable now, and realize that the heaviness of heart is a spiritual warning upon our conscience from the Holy Spirit that we have ignored His boundaries in favor of our own and allowed ourselves to go too far. Suddenly, we are in over our heads; our feet have slipped out from under us and our senses are dazed and dull. With fuzzy vision, we are blind to the Truth; and with muted hearing, the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit is almost undetectable. There is still Light, above the dark hole into which we have sunk, but if we do not thrust our hands heavenward and reach for air and solid ground without delay, all will be lost–and of our own accord we will have forfeited all that God wanted us to have.
The world is not a thing to toy with; it is the realm of darkness, the camp of the enemy, the kingdom of Satan. We must walk through it, but we cannot afford to slow to a saunter and window shop. If we intend to be victorious in this life, we cannot ignore the ample warnings of scripture regarding the tricks and traps all around us in this life. One of these prophetic passages is found in 1 Peter 5:8, and tells us to be sober and vigilant because we have an adversary who waits around every corner to trip us up and, if possible, to devour us completely. If you were walking through a jungle and knew that it was full of wild beasts that wanted to eat you, you would take every precaution to stay out of their way and to take the paths that they were less likely to frequent. Why, then, as we walk through this world, are we so careless about the paths we take?
A word to the wise: don’t wait until temptation pulls you far enough under to blur your vision and block your hearing. Success is where Preparedness and Opportunity meet; so as children of the light, let’s watch out for grey areas by avoiding all appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:21-24). Think ahead in these last days of 2012, and prepare for success. Start the New Year by reading The Pilgrim’s Progress again, and plan to take the road less traveled by in 2013! God bless you, and keep you safe…and May your Flame Burn Brightly!