When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. 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. (Revelation 1:12-18)
Sometimes when I wake up in the morning my first thoughts bring to mind the worries and concerns and fears that I handed over to God the day before. If I am not careful, if I do not pause in that moment, these first thoughts will invade my mind like weeds, choking out the truth that I have nothing to fear as long as I set my heart and my thoughts on Jesus.
Life involves challenges. Life involves questions without answers, at least not immediate answers.
For us right now that includes our little girl’s health and the causes for things affecting her growth that we cannot determine. It includes making ends meet because there are unplanned expenses that are eating into our limited income. It includes unknown outcomes for some pretty big upcoming events.
If I am not intentional in taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Jesus, my thought life will take control of my behavior and my choices; I will end up living controlled by my fears and my worries. I will end up missing the joy and the blessings that abound around me.
If I allow them, my thoughts will become a storm that roils around me.
And so I pause and I quiet my mind, keeping those thoughts at bay with whispered prayers. With the whispered name of Jesus, calling on His power to still the storm and instill His strength and His hope in me.
I pick up His word and read one of many passages that tell me not to be afraid.
And in one of those passages is the picture John captured of the risen Christ in the scripture above. If I did not know Him, if I did not abide in Him, this word picture of Christ would overwhelm and frighten me: eyes like flames, feet like bronze refined in a furnace, a voice as loud as the sea, stars in His hand, and a double-edged sword in His mouth.
But His words are meant as much for me as they were for John: Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one.
In that moment, as I listen to His words and hear His voice in my ear, I take heart and I take control of my thoughts. I cast all of my cares and worries and fears on Him, this mighty warrior who fights for me when I call on Him. And sometimes I have to call on Him from moment to moment because fears, worries, unknowns, circumstances are powerful in the hands of the enemy.
I know Jesus as the Good Shepherd and as the Light. I know Him as the Way and as the Truth. I know Him as the Word and as Emmanuel.
But this picture of Him? This fierce warrior image? This is not one that typically comes to mind. At least not before today. But it is certainly one that I will call to mind more often, especially when I am faced with life’s uncertainties and the schemes of the evil one. Because I don’t know about you, but as powerful as the enemy’s manipulations can seem, they are in no way a match for Christ, the Mighty One described in scripture.
And that makes waking up and facing the world and pushing back the fears and worries a whole lot easier to do.
Take that, fear.