Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Is it time to let the world go slack…?
On Epiphanies: A Good Analogy
In the 80’s movie Baby Boom, a “driven Manhattan management consultant (nicknamed the ‘Tiger Lady’),” who is “committed to her demanding and high-profile job,” inherits a baby.
For a while she, J.C. Watts, tries to do both demanding jobs: parenting and consulting for top brands. Then comes the inevitable conflict when her passion for wealth and notoriety melts as her love for her little one blossoms.
And J.C. comes to a life-changing realization. Goes like this:
One hectic morning on the push-pull, noisy streets of New York as she is on her way to work in the corner office at the intersection of Money and Power, J.C. finds herself trying to keep up with her high-profile sisters who speed-walk past her in their cross-trainers (their office “power pumps” slung over their amply-padded shoulders, as I recall) while she struggles with a brief case–and a diaper bag–carefully steering baby Elizabeth in her stroller through the noisy throng.
Trying desperately to keep up.
Suddenly, as if she is experiencing an epiphany, we watch J.C. …
…and find her own pace in the madding (as in “frenzied”) crowd.
Taking a deep breath, she allows the others to power past.
A smile forms.
(And the viewer smiles, too.)
Fast forward to a whole new life for J.C. and Elizabeth in a charming but old farmhouse (in need of a few repairs) up north, a new, definitely NOT high-powered relationship with the local veterinarian, and an even more successful career–in the baby food business.
It’s a new life not without its struggles, however, as in any quest worth the challenges…
A Brief Comment on Today’s Madding Crowd
I have thought of this cinematic analogy over the years in many and varied situations involving “moving on” after having done all I could in this or that context, and I think of it in such a time as this, when the global madding (as in “wild, furious, raving“), bests, or should I say “worsts” any dangerous crowd that came before.
And if the prophecy scholars are right, today’s cabal will surpass any going forward in its fury and fanaticism, in its quest to allegedly build something better but, in reality. we see it pulling the pins out of the time-honored, safe-haven infrastructures of family, faith, and freedom as fast and furiously as it seemingly can.
And that’s before the wrath of God descends to put an end to it–just in time!
A Believer’s Epiphany
But even 0n this (arguably) global road to perdition, its beasts and beast systems ever jerking our attention this way and that, believers–and all others who choose eyes to see, ears to hear–can transition to a better life, too.
We can rise above the fray in the spirit, if not on the ground, and in the Holy Spirit, God’s gift to us at our rebirth that allows us to be “quantumly entangled*” with Him, you might put it, which allows us 24/7 access to His wisdom, guidance, and comfort.
For this (spiritual) intel, the key is attending to His “field manual,” aka the Bible, in word and in deed–and within our spirit, seeded there through study and meditation.
We can slow down at today’s intersection named Fear and Chaos (the damaged street signs twisting above burnt inner-cities and bleeding civilizations), and have our own epiphany, this one based on the original Epiphany (“revelation“), when God the Son put on flesh and came down among us to show us the narrower but truer path to betterment built on His sacrifice on the cross.
And we are ever invited to stop there for a breather, a little Holy Ghost R&R you might say, to be renewed and strengthened.
But this epiphany is not restricted to a physical location.
It requires but a choice made anywhere, anytime, to take that “road less traveled” (as the poet Frost described his own intersection of life-changing opportunity), the one pointing upward to God and away from what darkness has come and will intensify beyond the corner of Broad Road and The World.
And, back to prophecy: for those who have not yet done so, a choice for Christ today will be a choice made none too soon.**
In Such a Time as This
So what prompts the larger message of this post is what I am hearing from those who see stronger and stronger parallels between the sorry–and dangerous–state of the world just now and so-called end times prophecies, and for believers there are two fronts, the spiritual as well as the physical.
As to the physical front, although believers are to “occupy” as always, primarily by carrying out certain spiritual (see what’s bolded below) tasks until the return of Jesus, we have to mind the physical battleground, too. As put in the commentary linked above,
The return of Christ is always presented in Scripture as a great motivation to action, not as a reason to cease from action…
But–and to my main point–despite all the turmoil and terror on the ground, our primary mandate is still The Great Commission.
Hard as it is to remember just now that the world’s battles come and go, our Commander in Chief guides us in an eternal quest, where no matter how it plays out “down here” our most important assignment is not to take prisoners and conquer lands, but to point others–including our enemies–to the ultimate Hero, Jesus Christ, for true and lasting victory and the eternal kind of peace.
But, and back again to the prophecy scholars, today’s battle seems to be the Waterloo for the wicked, a conflagration unparalleled in all the battles of good versus evil. As Jesus put it in Matthew 24:21 when discussing such a time with his disciples:
For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
So, this war, if the prophecy scholars are right, is a one-off, and will be off-the-charts intense in the days to come.
Thus, the believer needs to armor up in two dimensions: what is necessary in the flesh and “in the spirit,” described here:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
The “Epiphany Point”
That said, in every kind of war, there is a difficult “turning point,” “tipping point,” or “point of no return,” as termed in the world, where it’s either epiphany or encroaching entropy.
But especially just now as the world and many of its inhabitants seem to wax crazy worse.
Which is why believers look more and more to prophecy and especially to Him Who knows the end from the beginning and Who has shared it in that field manual to give us a heads-up and to fortress our resolve.
And besides a variety of literal battle plans in the Bible from which we can glean wisdom in our terrestrial struggles today, there is also plenty of comfort, encouragement, and strengthening perspective for the road ahead. (Many recommend Psalms 91 and 37 for good places to begin.)
Our boots may be on a fast-sinking ground, but our spirits led by the Spirit need not sink if we stay the course.
Despite all the distractions our real enemy and his minions (the archetypal “shadow government,” you might say) throw at us in an attempt to separate us from the love and salvation of God, greater is He in us than he who is in the world–although, it can be tough to keep that in mind at all times. Right?!
It helps to peel our eyes off of all of the bad news about our mean, brutal world as often as we can, to “look up,” yield to Christ, and trust Him. At least that’s one of my biggest challenges.
(But why would we–I–want to muck around “down here” all the time, anyway?)
And when we do weaken or feel overwhelmed, it also helps to remember that even those who walked closely with Jesus back in the day, seeing Him heal the sick, deliver the demon possessed, and even raise the dead, it was still a challenge.
Just Keep Walkin’
For example, consider Peter in that boat tossed about in the roiling waters and, seeing Jesus walk on that water, decided to go out to meet Him.
Problem was, of course, both Peter and his courage sank when he was but a few steps out! What did he do (which is also what we can do in the storms we face today)? As the scene is put in Matthew 14:30 records, Peter kept it simple:
But when he saw the wind boisterous, (Peter) was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me…
Fast forward a nano second,
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
NOTE–lesson number two from this anecdote: although there were several more steps to take on that stormy lake, Peter, walking beside Jesus Who created the water, the wind, and the waves, made it safely back to the boat.
Consider also this “scene”–and be encouraged:
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together… (Colossians 1:15-17)
So despite all the psyops and flash-bangs the world can cobble together to defeat its enemies, no power can best the Power that created all that is seen and unseen.
His power, available to us when we call out to Him–and like Peter, stay close to Him–includes that which is needed to overcome today’s storms, too (even for those of us who are, like J.C.’s charming farmhouse, a bit old and maybe in need of a few repairs…).
I’ll stick with His Command, “battleground,” and plan.
I pray you will, too.***
*From an earlier post:
You might also think of it this way: when we are born again*, we become, as the physicists might put it, “quantumly entangled” spiritually with our Heavenly Commander. We have a connection to God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, given to help, comfort, and guide us.
**Here’s how to join: ABCs of Salvation
***I mean do we really want to go back to “the world” and what it offers as tempting as that might be for one reason or another? Sure, it may be hard to resist at times (or too scary), and maybe the “fare,” so to speak, isn’t too “delectable” on the narrower path…
(I know…believe me…)
But here’s a lighter-hearted look at this business from brother Keith Green, ca ’78, to lift and refresh the weary traveler today, anyway. Enjoy.