PRAY FOR SAFETY AND SAFEKEEPING
We do pray that things would go our way. We take comfort in singing, “Blessed Assurance Jesus is mine.” But what did Jesus sing? Where was Jesus’ assurance that He was safe? As a man, Jesus had no place to lay his head, there was no one He could trust or turn to for comfort. Jesus felt that He and the Father were one and on intimate terms; yet, He felt alone in Gethsemane and begged the Father to provide an easier task and road. And at the cross, Jesus felt forsaken. In spite of all His disappointments, He promised to be with his followers always and that no one could remove them from His and His Father’s Hand (Matthew 28:20; John 10:28-29).
What did Jesus have in mind? He also said that in this world all men would face tribulations and his followers even more so (John 16:33). The world has never been a safe place, in Jesus’ day or our time. I can identify what Jesus said to his people before Jerusalem was destroyed. “When you see armies surrounding Jerusalem, flee at all cost for the worst desolation will be upon you. Even before that takes place, you will be apprehended and persecuted, you will be delivered to Synagogues and prisons, you will be dragged before kings and governors for my sake. You will also be betrayed by your parents, brothers, relatives and friends an some of you will die; for you will be hated by all people because you will bear my name. I promise you that a hair of your head will not perish. Your enduring patients will save your soul (psuchas)” (Luke 21:12-21)
During such persecutions, it is not the physical life that the disciples were to be concerned about, but their safety of the eternal soul. “Fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul (psuchen); instead, fear him that can destroy soul and body and sent them to hell. Do you not sell two sparrows for a nickel and not one will fall down without your Father’s will? Even the hairs on your head are all numbered. Fear not (your persecutors) for your are of more value than many sparrows. Therefore, if you confess me before men, I too will confess you before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I too will deny him before my Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 10:28-33). Physical suffering claims its victims. It weakens the human will to resist evil. Peter, the strongest disciple, was the first to cave in under fear of being arrested and identified with Jesus (Mt. 26:69-75). Jesus believed that prayer could help endure such a time (Mt. 26:40-41).
I indicated that I could identify with the fear of death and hell. I do believe that the human will to live is stronger than the will to die and even stronger when hell becomes inevitable. I do not remember when I did not believe that I will face God after I die physically and that in my ghostly form I will be held accountable for my earthly meanderings. When I fell into a waterhole and was drowning, I was not concerned with dying but with facing God. He was not accusing me; my conscience was pointing my finger back at me for not having made things right with Him and my fellow men. The same thing happened to me when I was in a fire at the age of twenty-one. My conscience cried out for help because I was unprepared to face my Maker. I had no peace in my soul because I had not settle my affairs in this world. The only place the soul is safe in the hereafter is in Christ Jesus. Actually, it is the Christ within us that keeps us safe (Jn. 14:23-27).
The other thing that I learned is that a safe soul helps the physical life face desolation and persecution much more enduring. My parents were far from being perfect in living a Christian life; but they were convinced that nothing happened without God’s knowledge and direction. In spite of being persecuted, having lost several homes and lands, their business and two children, they kept on believing that God would change their lot and He did. I was nine years old when my world caved in overnight. Right after school was dismissed, my friends threw stones at me, called me names, reported lies and had me trashed by my own father in their presence. It was not for my faith but for being a German in Poland with being second best in class and a German girl who first best. All the Germans were imprisoned and mistreated, except my father who was a Polish soldier fighting the Germans and our mother that went hiding with us until the Poles surrendered our part of Poland to the Russians. During these days, nothing had any value to us but to stay alive and get out of that part of the world where hatred breathed hatred. It was prayer that carried my mother and our grandmother through this unforgettable time. Night after night they came looking for us and could not find us. We felt like the arms of heaven had surrounded us and kept us safe.
I always wanted to stay alive and remain here on earth because this is the only time where I can fulfill the purpose God had intended for me, when He created or designed all things before the world came into being (Eph. 1:4; 2:10). According to Jesus, life on earth was the most important period in a person’s time. In fact, it was irreplaceable (Mt. 16:26). God himself loved this earthling so much that He sent His Son to save him (Jn. 3:16). Jesus, Himself, prayed to the Father not to remove his followers from the earth as quickly as He was, because the rest of mankind would have been deprived of the reason why God had created man and the world in the first place (Jn. 17). Man made a mistake, but God does not want him to pay for it forever (II Pe. 3:9). Man does not have to enshrine himself into Satan’s halls (Jn. 3:17-18). Jesus, Himself, was heartbroken when He lost one to Satan (Jn. 17:12). This life is our gift of grace from God to turn our life around and live up to our Creator’s expectation.
Consider this fact that God stopped creating on the sixth day and all his work was finished (Gen. 2:1-3). Then take into account that Christ and the Father are one, hence a member of “The Us,” the Creating Team (Jn. 14:10-20; Gen. 1:26). Add Jesus’ claims, “Before Abraham was, I am” (Jn. 8:58) and “Father glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (Jn. 17:5). The place Christ went to prepare for his followers had already been created during creation (Mt. 25:34) and so was the place for the devil and his followers (Mt. 25:41). If we add it all up then all life began before the world was created – even the life yet to be born. Life began in creation and not in conception. There is no greater crime committed against life than to terminate the body it requires to leave God’s mark on the world. The safekeeping of the earthly beginning was entrusted to the woman until the child can decide. After that each one must secure their own safety by placing their trust in Christ (Jn. 3:18-21).
The Psalmist declared that he could not flee from the presence of God (Ps. 139). Ultimately, all will face God in eternity, but in this life it is up to us to enter an agreement with Christ to protect us. We live in enemy territory and we do by our own choice step outside the domain of God. Like the Lost Son, we must come back home for the Father to reinstate us. The Father, by his very holy nature, cannot enter pig territory. Man, for the sake of his own safety, must make that move into God’s arms.