27 August 2013

Pondering, or missing the point?

Scripture: Revelation 1:12-20 NLT

"And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man.  He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest.  His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire.  His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves.  He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said,  “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. “Write down what you have seen—both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen. This is the meaning of the mystery of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands: The seven stars are the angels  of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches."

Observation:

John is using imagery here, rich in meaning to his audience.  But much of the poetic he employs simply isn't part of my cultural dialogue.  (We prefer oil-rubbed bronze here over burnished, but I'm familiar with wool, being a spinner & knitter.) ;o)  So John's descriptions tend to read literally in my mind's eye.  I see a man with fire shooting from his eyes and a long, stiff, double-edged tongue waving around.  But when I stop to think about it, I remember Paul telling the Ephesians to arm themselves with the sword of truth, and it begins to make sense.  And maybe burnished brass is trying to describe the way Jesus' darker Jewish skin shines with glory.  I highly recommend stopping and thinking about scripture.  Pondering.  The coolest stuff comes through the Holy Spirit when I do that.  (Pondering, btw, means slowing down and thinking about what you're doing.  Love that.)

But then! . . . then comes the best part.  John is overcome, and faints dead away.  And then, in my minds' eye, I see Jesus coming and kneeling over John, and touching his face or forehead with so much love, and reassuring him with all of the incredible love and gentleness He has.  He's not standing, aloof in power and majesty, reaching out magically without moving a muscle to wake John up, then booming out in command "Don't you dare be afraid!"  He loves John. He's comforting Him in deed and in spirit, as well as word.  John knows Jesus, and this is a moment rich in meaning and comfort and security.

Application:

The Son of God in full glory revealed Himself to His servant, and that servant needed a little additional help in order to bear that glory.  It wasn't easy, as the flesh, when surprised, tends to take over. lol But God cares tenderly for us.  He knows us.  He knows me! He wants so, so badly to manifest Himself to me in any way that I can possibly bear, possibly see, possibly understand.  He's always trying, kind of like a friend desperate for attention, saying "Hey, watch this!" as he does amazing things in my life.  The question is, will I see it?  Will I stop and think?  Or will I trundle on my oblivious way, seeing only a frightening figure, blazing with glory whose eyes and mouth are mortal dangers to me, blasting commands from his position on high?

Prayer:

God my Father, thank You so, so much for the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the urging to ponder as I feast on Your word.  Thank you for opening so many things to my understanding, and for waking me tenderly.  Please, keep guiding me.  Keep showing me Your love more and more.  Strengthen my knees and guide my feet as I walk daily in Your will for me, and let me draw ever closer to You.  In Jesus' glorious name, Amen.

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I welcome questions and concerns--they are most often what spur us closer to the truth. I only ask that we all give everyone the most generous benefit of the doubt, assigning the best motives possible. A soft answer truly does turn away wrath, and an atmosphere of Jesus's love is the best for learning, no matter which side of a discussion you're on.

Thanks so much, and God bless you!