Updated: Jul 4, 2018
As I write this article, a powerful hurricane is approaching the east coast of the United States, triggering mass evacuations in major population centres and fears of huge damage bills which could, in turn, have recessionary implications. Earlier this week, the New York Stock Exchange was shaken – literally, by an earthquake that rattled the eastern seaboard – and metaphorically – by warnings of an escalating sovereign debt crisis in Europe.
No doubt there will be the usual chorus of alarmists proclaiming that judgment is coming and the end is near. “Pack your tribulation jelly beans and head for the hills because the sky is falling!” Of course, you can join up the dots and believe just about anything, if you really want to. And in most cases it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because perception is reality. In other words, if you believe something is true, then it is true for you, even if it is not actually true.
However, it would behove us to remember the warning of the Lord Jesus regarding the signs of the times and the end of the age:
“Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them. But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.” (Luke 21:8-9)
Notice that Jesus says, “do not go after them” and “do not be terrified”. Or, to put it another way, “don’t be easily moved or persuaded; don’t act impulsively out of fear; don’t be confused by listening to too many voices; don’t vacillate between conflicting opinions; don’t be like the waves of the sea, driven and tossed by the winds of change”.
Likewise, the apostle Paul urged his readers not to be “soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though the day of Christ had already come” (2 Thess. 2:2). The Amplified Bible says “not to allow your minds to be quickly unsettled or disturbed or kept excited or alarmed”. J. B. Phillips says “to keep your heads and not be thrown off your balance”.
Clearly, the word of God admonishes us not to react quickly or excitedly to news events. But how can we maintain a state of mental and emotional equilibrium in the midst of an often chaotic environment? Being a pragmatist by nature, I would like to propose three solutions, which, if implemented, could go a long way to ensuring our survival in this world.
1. Even in times of crisis, build things that last
Think in terms of longevity. Don’t compromise for short term gain. ‘The big picture’ helps to maintain balance and preserve integrity. Apply the ‘rocking chair test’ – mentally project yourself forward 10, 20, or 50 years; imagine yourself sitting in a rocking chair reviewing your life, and ask yourself, “Was it worth it?”
Martin Luther declared, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” Which is another way of saying, “I will keep on doing business right up until the day the Lord returns” (Luke 19:13).
2. Find a strategy that works, develop a plan, and stick to it
Whether it’s building a healthy marriage, raising children, paying off a mortgage, getting out of debt, losing weight, or growing a business, you’ve got to find a strategy that works for you. Do your due diligence, study and model others who have been successful in the area you are interested in – learn from their ideas, adapt their methods, formulate a plan, and most important of all, stick to it!
3. Persevere to the end … hold until relieved … never give up
As he neared the end of his life, the apostle Paul said “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally there is laid up for me the crown …” (2 Tim. 4:7-8). I want you to think about those words in light of building things that last, and finding strategies that work. When you commit to something, you’ve got to run the whole race. You’ve got to see it through to the end. That’s where the prizes are given out, that’s where the rewards are received – at the end, not the beginning.
More often than not, we don’t get the results because we don’t finish the course. We fall off the bike halfway up the mountain. We quit the diet when the craving becomes too strong and abandon the financial plan when the discipline becomes too rigorous. Once again, let me remind you of the word of the Lord: “You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (Heb. 10:36). It mightn’t be flashy, but it’s true: persistence pays off!
Pillars in the house of the Lord
If I had a prophetic word for you, it would be this: “God wants you to be a pillar in his house!” The word ‘pillar’ denotes strength and stability; something that can be relied upon; something that, because of its inherent strength, can support other things.
When Solomon built the temple, he placed two bronze pillars by the vestibule. The one on the right was called Jachin, meaning ‘he shall establish’, and the one on the left was called Boaz, meaning ‘in it is strength’ (1 Kings 7:15-22).
However, in the spiritual temple of Christ’s church, the pillars are people, not physical objects. In the church in Jerusalem, Peter, James and John were respected as ‘pillars’ (Gal. 2:9). These three men, by virtue of their godly character and spiritual giftedness, were a source of strength and stability to the congregation. They ‘upheld’ or ‘supported’ the work of the Lord.
And in his message to the faithful church of Philadelphia, Jesus says: “Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out no more …” (Rev. 3:10-12).
The Lord wants to make you a pillar in the church and the community. When everything around you is shaking, you stand firm in the knowledge of God. You know that he who has called you is faithful, and that he will bring it to pass! Focused on the ultimate goal and committed to the due process, you, the faithful one, abound with blessings