FOCUS – Taping into resurrection power
I recently saw the movie The Fellowship of the Ring. I confess I was scared out of my mind while watching that movie. I went with my oldest son, who was seeing it for the third time, and I frequently grabbed him by the shirt sleeve because it somehow made me feel more secure.
One of the things that frightened me most was the fight between Gandalf and Saruman, because they represented something very real to me. I’m not a Tolkien expert, so I may not have interpreted everything correctly. But Gandalf seemed to be possibly an image of Christ, or perhaps a powerful angel, and Saruman represented Satan. After an intense, supernaturally charged fight, Saruman defeated Gandalf and made him a prisoner. But his victory was only temporary.
Another spine-chilling scene occurred underground, in the dwarf mines. The good guys–the “fellowship”–were being pursued by the dreadful “orcs.” The orcs–representing demons–were absolutely terrifying. They were hideous and powerful. And plentiful. The fellowship barricaded themselves behind a door, hoping to keep the orcs out. But the orcs penetrated the room, and the rabid beasts grossly outnumbered the men of the fellowship. Completely sucked into the movie, I couldn’t begin to imagine that the heroes would immerge victorious from this battle. They did, of course.
Sometimes when looking at the evil of this planet, it is difficult to remember that God will win. That he is in control. That a day will come when every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. When women murder their own children, when a man can abduct a little girl from her own bedroom and destroy her, when young men can praise Allah while obliterating thousands of lives it is easy to forget that a better day will come. At present, evil seems to have the upper hand.
Even in our personal lives, we can easily forget that we are on the winning team, especially when we find cause to be afraid. Someone is afraid because a spouse has deserted the family, or because a job has been lost, or because a child is out of control. Those who are afraid have defeat in view. They cannot completely believe that everything will be all right.
Imagine the fear the apostles felt when Jesus was crucified. How could they possibly imagine that everything would work out once their master was actually dead? This was the final defeat–or, so it seemed. But death was only temporary for Jesus. He was the ultimate victor, the only man who ever raised himself back to life of his own power. In fact, Jesus was already the victor when they nailed him to the cross, for he had submitted himself to the will of the Father and provided salvation for humankind.
If indeed our Lord conquered the unconquerable–that is, death–perhaps it is inappropriate that we, his people, experience fear. What can overwhelm Christ if death could not overwhelm him? Is this month’s mortgage payment more than Christ can handle? Is a friend’s illness a threat to his power? Must the abandoned spouse cease to function, because such a crisis is more than our Lord can handle? For those of us who have opted to be on the winning team, we must allow him to infuse us with his power so that we can meet our challenges head-on.
Of course, that is not to say that it is always God’s will for illness to be healed, nor will an unknown relative bequeath money every time a Christian’s rent is overdue. But God has a plan to which the Christian must submit. With our submission to his direction, he gives us the wherewithal to handle all circumstances. II Timothy 1:7 reads: “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” The situation will determine how this verse is applied. One may need power to cope with a new life circumstance, or love to care for someone who is ill, or self-discipline to live under a stricter budget. No matter how this verse is appropriated, it never leaves room for fear.
Neither the forces of evil nor the challenges of daily life need frighten the children of God. It is our responsibility to remember that we worship the God of resurrection, of unlimited power. When we understand this fully, we are equipped to live victorious lives.