Monday, April 7, 2008

All Is Well

The world can be a frightening place for a child. My husband and I both remember the days of nuclear bomb drills at school, crawling under the desk and putting our hands over our heads. (I’m still not sure how effective that tactic would be during a nuclear attack!) We lecture our children thoroughly on the dangers of strangers. We brief them on escape plans for our homes should fire strike. Since 9/11, most families have emergency plans to find each other should something catastrophic happen. Even the environment is a threat. As young as in elementary school, children are taught about the “certain fact” that global warming has begun with its resulting climate catastrophe just around the corner. Even though this is all preparation for what may never come, it can give a child the impression that things are spinning out of control.

Sometimes reading biblical prophecy can be just as scary. I am working on a paper today in the book of Daniel regarding the abomination of desolation. There is much in the future still to be played out, according to the scriptures. And much of that future reads more like an R-rated movie than a happily ever after fairy tale. The judgment of God will come someday on a world which has turned its back in rebellion against Him.

Why does God spend so much time warning about His coming judgment? Why the chapters and chapters of prophecy about something we may never experience in our lifetime? Foremost, of course, God is concerned for our salvation. He does not want any to perish (1 Peter 3:9). Knowing what eventually lies ahead for this world is excellent motivation to move in the right direction.

But I think that an even greater purpose is served by the writings of prophecy for those of us already saved. When we read the plans of God, we are left with a lasting impression: God controls the destiny of the world. Everything is going according to plan. He demonstrates this by letting us know there is a plan. We can see much of prophecy has already been carefully fulfilled. What is still in our future will be painstakingly orchestrated as well. We can live our lives in optimism and hope because we live for a powerful God who holds the future in His hands. “In this world you have tribulation, but take courage: I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a story of a ship and its occupants moving dangerously toward the rocks in a violent sea. The ship's passengers huddled together on the deck below, in terror that their lives were at an end. One brave man volunteered to go above deck to seek out the captain to ascertain the situation. With great difficulty, he made his way above deck to the pilot house. There he found the captain, chained to the post, his hands confidently on the wheel. Seeing the passenger’s terror, the captain gave him a reassuring smile. The man gave his fellow passengers his hopeful news when he returned to those huddled below. “All is well. All is well. I saw the pilot’s face and he smiled.”

I had a similar experience once on a bumpy flight to Hartford. I sat in the same row as a uniformed pilot who had caught our flight to get to his next assignment. While turbulance usually makes me nervous, this time I watched him. If he suddenly hunched over into a crash position, I would know it was time to panic. However, while he calmly slipped his coffee and read his magazine, I knew all was well.

I believe this is the reason we are allowed a glimpse into the future. In the midst of seeming uncertainty and conflict, we as people of God can rest secure in the knowledge that He has it all in hand. Nothing happens that surprises God. Beyond the conflict and agony of this life, we have the hope of certain victory in Christ. The story is already written.

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