April 10, 2013

Let me be singing when the evening comes

Since I started the online courses to finish my degree, I’ve felt a combination of great joy at the truths being studied and great struggle at the sense of being in the wilderness sorely tempted by the devil. I’ve learned more about my sinful self as the readings and lectures have opened my eyes to more about the person and work of Jesus Christ. Many days it seems as if I am standing in a blessed place, but wielding a sword at the enemy who keeps coming at me from every angle.

The Lord takes me this morning to a passage in Revelation concerning the vision John had of what is to come. These two verses offer encouragement. The battle will end and when it does, the saints of God will sing praises to the Lord who won it for us.

And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! (Revelation 15:2–3)

The devotional speaks of our struggle. If it isn’t with suffering, it will be with temptation and wickedness, with the power of evil in its earthly manifestations, with all that tries to drag down anything that is right. Praise God that everyone who belong to Jesus Christ will come out of this “victorious over the beast” and will enter the kingdom of heaven.

We will stand beside this “a sea of glass mingled with fire” — and sing. The sea of glass speaks of a calm, clear place, a symbol of rest and peace. The fire is used in the Bible to illustrate the testing of all things that consumes evil and purifies good. It never rests, never spares pain, but is a symbol of active trials and struggles. That makes this “sea of glass mingled with fire” a rest mingled with struggle, peace and achievement, yet trial and suffering alive and working with it.

This is where I am right now, not in the image in heaven where the victory is depicted yet the battle is over, but here, in the battle, in the sea of glass mingled with fire. If I focus on the sea, I’m blindsided by the fire. If I focus on the fire, I cannot defeat it — or sing.

Personally, I’d not expected this conflict. I’ve been to seminary, but was distracted in a living classroom by interaction with other students. These online discussion groups are not the same. Students tend to be more open, more to the point with their comments, if they make them at all. We are taking a difficult course, eight modules/weeks of foundational yet deep material, difficult to grasp yet incredibly wonderful. Our enemy does not want us to “get it” or apply it to our lives and ministry. He is hitting hard with those fiery darts.

The devotional writer says of this scene in heaven that our victory will be colored with the hard struggle that won it. That sea of glass will always be mixed with fire. Those whose life has been overturned by the strong hand of God, filled with the deep forces of suffering, and purified by the strong fires of temptation will stand by that place of discipline — forever victorious and singing praises to our God.

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name


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