Our family lived in Northern California from 1984-1988. The community we lived in was Pleasanton and the church we served at was First Baptist Church, Pleasanton. Moving from Missouri to California was quite the culture shock for us, but we enjoyed the area and the people. Some of the fun things for us to do as a family was to go on a Saturday to the city (San Francisco) and play at Gateway Park under the Golden Gate Bridge, walk on Pier 39, which had some cool shops, and ride the trolley cars on the tall hills that make up the city. Trolley Cars are loud and the engineering that goes into making them work is fantastic, and we were very impressed with the ride we got going down Market Street to the bay. When riding down the hill I got to thinking, “What if this thing’s brakes don’t hold” and I spent most of the time devising a plan to get me and my family off alive. Of course, the brakes did work and we got off at Fisherman’s Wharf and went along with the rest of our day. As I look back, my plans on how to get off the Trolley Car should the brakes not hold were very detailed and were prompted by what I thought was an incredible downhill ride, which seemed almost out of control. I am a thrill seeker and the scarier the ride, the better, but I am always thinking of an emergency situation and how to handle it when I’m on that ride. My daughter Jessica and I went on some incredible rides at Dollywood when I was on vacation last month. One paricular ride, called the Mystery Mine Ride, was a vicious, straight up, intense ride that had me questioning my sanity for getting on it. It took us straight up, I mean STRAIGHT up and then we went straight down! It was so intense I almost couldn’t come up with a good plan should the whole thing fail, but I did. I saw a hand rail to the side of where my car was and if it let loose, I was going to grab that rail and grab Jessica and hang on. Of course, it probably wouldn’t have been that easy, but I still made my plans.
We live in a world that has become one, intense roller coaster, trolley car ride, after another. Things we thought we would never see as Americans, and specifically American Christians are happening on a daily basis. I think we are at the top of a big downhill track and we are out of control with no brakes to stop us. The only thing is I can’t seem to get focused on how to put the brakes on, as it is falling apart. I do know that God is my only hope in all of this so my plans need to be centered in His strength and His power. In America we have been lulled to sleep in our prosperity, and in so many ways we have been blessed. This sleep has caused our hearts and minds to become unguarded and now we are reaping the result of this slumber. It is very discouraging, and yes, a little scary. Our plans for the days ahead should be very focused and prepared. The crash at the bottom of this hill is going to be disastrous and the foundation we stand on will be shaken, but not crushed. We just need to make sure that Jesus is our foundation so we know how to handle the crash. Let’s look at the cause. In Mark 4:19 Jesus shares a parable about the seed sown and the different effects on that seed that is sown. In verse 19 he talks about a seed that has been sown and then taken away by what society does to it. Verse 19 – and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. At times Andra and I will say, “How can people believe and do these things when they are Christians?” The truth is, they are being choked into submission. Submission to a lost and dying world!! The Word of God is fruitless in their lives and the ways of God fall to the wayside. That is a battle that satan is winning because they have let the deceitfull ways of the world control their faith. But I have to ask, “I thought the battle had been won!” Of course, we STILL know that is true, but satan’s deception causes victors to doubt their victory and thus we try to fight a new battle “on our own.” We won’t win that battle though. Why? Because we are fighting it!! So what do we do? For me, I need to quit trying to fight something that is past tense. Quit battling with life itself and start living in the glow of that great victory won by Jesus. Also, quit listening to satan as he tries to draw me back into fighting on my own. I need to bring up Jesus’ victory every time he tempts me and live in the wonderful grace of Jesus. Back to the out of control world. As Christians we must quit living in doubt and start living in faith. Faith in God, which comes through having enough faith in God’s Word to start reading it and living it. We need to be “true to the core” in our love for Jesus and those who live in this world with us. God’s top two commandments are Love the Lord Your God and Love Your Neighbor as Yourself- Matthew 22:36-40 Believe it or not those two will work when the world falls apart. We will first of all need God to strenghthen us and then we will need to be a strength for our neighbors who need some hope. So, if this trolley car that is running away hits the bottom and crashes, the very basics of our faith will be the most essential elements in making it through the crash. If it means our life, then we will be in glory. If it means persecution then Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.” Matthew 5:10 Whatever happens in the crash, I hope we as Christians are found to be steady and true to the end. Not choked out by our desire to hold on to the American Dream. A dream that has lulled us to sleep. The only true foundational hope for the world is Jesus Christ, who is Faithful and True. Trust in Him and you will be comforted and empowered. By the way, He is coming again….and soon!!!!
The Pilgrimage continues….