You and I are alike in a lot of ways. Granted, you don’t look like me (which is good for you) but we still share extraordinary commonalities. We are human. Which means we will have common experiences in this adventure we call life. Our experiences may look different, but on a basic level they are the same. We all will experience times of grief. Times of suffering. We all will have moments of loneliness, fear, anxiety and worry. Our journeys will be marked by periods of darkness. It’s the reality of living in a world of brokenness and sin. No one is left untouched by the effects of a fallen world. The struggle IS real.
Our “heroes” of the Christian faith aren’t exempt from it either. The bible has plenty of examples of humans being human. Let me share with you a somewhat obscure example. John the Apostle. At the beginning of the book of Revelation, of which he is the author, we find this important figure of the early church…alone. Because of his faith, he has been sent to live out the remaining years of his life on an island prison. He has been removed from the community of believers that he loved. Since he is human, and created for relationship, we can then imagine how he may have felt. It was probably quite a dark time in his life. He was facing his own mortality and was probably concerned about the health and growth of the fledgling church which was facing daily persecution and tribulation. I can only imagine that my heart would be heavy under such circumstances. If you read a little further into Revelation (specifically 1:9-20), I find it pretty amazing at how God chooses to minister to John, and us, in this situation.
John is allowed to see the glorified Jesus and he struggles to adequately explain the vision he is given. He sees Jesus, standing in the middle of seven lamp stands, stars in His hand, dressed in robes with flaming eyes and a sword coming from His mouth! Pretty wild. John sums it up by comparing Jesus’ appearance to staring at the sun. All in all….it’s a powerful image of Jesus. This isn’t the baby in the manger or the humble carpenter from Nazareth. This is Alpha and Omega Jesus. John’s response? He falls down like someone shot him. I think that’s pretty appropriate at this point.
Here’s where it gets even more interesting. Jesus reaches down and puts his hand on his shoulder and tells him to “Fear not”. Jesus reminds John of who He is. Was John feeling alone? Jesus reminds him He is with him. Was John concerned about his own life and what would happen to him? Jesus tells him He has the keys to death and hell. Was John concerned about the church and what it’s future would look like? Jesus gives him an image of Himself standing in the midst of the church (the lamp stands) and holding its leadership in His hand (the seven stars). When it’s all said and done…I like to think Jesus is simply telling him…”I got this!”
Sometimes we need to be reminded of the same. In the midst of our fears, worries, anxieties…we need to be reminded that God is still in charge and in control and He’s got this! I don’t exactly know how John felt about this encounter…but I can imagine he was encouraged. I know that this vision then inspired him to write the rest of the book of Revelation. It gave him the confidence to be able to record some amazing things and be used by God to bring encouragement to us two thousand years later. Are you in the middle of craziness that life often brings? Be encouraged to not dwell on your circumstances…but on the God over the circumstances. God has this! Sometimes a simple change of perspective, a bigger vision of Jesus…is all we need to find the inspiration to endure.