April 13, 2013

Walking on a sea of fire

Looking back, I can see how the events of the past are built into the fiber of the present. God has directed all that happened to me for His purposes, including the unpleasant trials, and even my own errors and foolish choices. While I cannot blame Him for my disobedience and mistakes, He has graciously used all things for my good.

Today’s devotional points to the way God mixes past events with grace to give energy to His peace and rest. That is, resting in Christ has nothing to do with being a couch potato!

The image in this passage is a sea of glass, calm and serene, but mingled with fire. In the Bible, fire is often a symbol of judgment, but also of refining, and even zeal for God. In this verse, the devotional author sees rest mingled with that fiery zeal.

Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished. 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. (Revelation 15:1–2)

He points to Peter, a forgiven follower who preached the first sermon, was involved in the conversion of the first Gentiles, and became a champion of faith. Yet he is the same man who denied his Master and struggled with his denial as Jesus was crucified. His past no doubt had an effect on his fire for God.

He also considers Paul who was taken to the third heaven and sees awesome things, but never ceases to be the one who stood by at Stephen’s stoning. His past mingled with the peace of God became the fire in his ministry.

Each of us who have turned homeward to our Father carry with us memories of what it was like to be empty, hungry and eating pig food. As God’s saved children, we cannot (and dare not) forget that we were once lost. This can be seen in this graphic picture of a “sea of glass mixed with fire.” It suggests rest pervaded with activity, contemplation stirred by zealous service in the kingdom of God.

Some think heaven will mean idleness after our earthly battles with sin, yet this cannot be true any more than life here becomes idle when a spiritual battle is won. We are made to serve God with lively enthusiasm, an enthusiasm that increases after each victory. Heaven would not be heaven without the rest that God gives, but also without the activity that is part of a totally purified life.

This week, my degree course asks the question: What is Jesus doing now? The simple answer is that He is sitting at the right hand of the Father, but He is also forever interceding for us, and in some wonderful and mysterious way is present in the life of each Christian, guiding and helping each follower. That means He is busier now than He ever was while here on earth, yet more at rest for He has made our salvation complete. The sacrifice was made, atonement was accomplished; it is finished. But the work of His Body, the church, goes on, and He is right in the middle of that work.

Jesus shows us our future. What is happening with Him right now will also happen with us. We will sit down to rest beside that glassy sea; our battles are over. Be we will also be filled with fiery energy for whatever He gives us to do.

May God grant grace today so I can be more than a conqueror through Him who loves me. In that victory, may my rest in Him and my zeal to serve Him also increase. May I begin even now to walk with him in white on the sea of glass mixed with fire.

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