Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

It is…
by Rayola Kelley

If you ask me what I would consider to be the biggest challenge for people to survive in these days, my answer may surprise you. To me the biggest challenge to survive is reality.

Last month we talked about the tsunami of deception that is sweeping the world. The reason deception is so attractive is because reality is rarely desired by the flesh, pleasing to the taste buds, and comfortable to the selfish disposition. However, the definition I use for reality is that it is what it is. We can try to change it, ignore it, adjust it, or control it, but it will remain what is so. Reality is what something may be, but a love for the truth allows one to honestly face reality in order to come to terms with how to survive it. In truth there is a solution that not only gives hope, but it will show a way out or through a matter.

This brings us to the state of things. Until the last decade, many Americans have had the luxury of not having to face the harsh reality of life. It is only the intrusion of some type of loss and death that has caused Americans to realize that every person is in an unseen current that he or she cannot control. Granted, the current that runs against the bows of our diverse “boats of life” may vary, but the types of waves that we encounter on the ocean of life are the same. They may hit us differently and bring destruction to different parts of our lives at varying intervals, but nevertheless, they are the same. After all, the waves of life do not distinguish from class, race, or age, for life is what it is.

It is because life is what it is that many people in America find themselves struggling with the reality of the days we are living in. In their former fanciful realities it was easy to harbor fairytale notions about life, while ignoring the storm clouds on the horizon caused by a breakdown of the family, a blatant moral decline, and a caustic political environment.

I was aware of such immature fanciful notions in my younger adult life. My immature philosophy was that in the end all would turn out well. Even though I knew storms would come and go, I felt they would not be able to touch the core of what I valued or perceived as being important. I concluded that I could take the world on and change it in spite of the bumps in the road.

In reality, I was an unrealistic optimist. My optimism rested on sentimental hogwash that the hardness of life touched others, but somehow I was one of its favorites or elite and my fragile world would survive unscathed. I would somehow avoid the devastation that waves of challenges cause, and the cycles of life that could bring death and destruction my way. In a sense, I saw everything through a romantic frame of reference.

What I have learned through the years is that the waves of life have their way of stripping individuals, such as myself, of sentimental hogwash, bringing each of us to face the rocky shores of reality. In the past, I have struggled to keep from crashing against the formidable shores of reality in order to maintain my fantasy about life. Although at times I felt I had prolonged the inevitable, I realized that I could never stop the forces of life from slamming me against the harsh boulders of realism.

Due to my immaturity, I did not realize at the time that my inward character was not only being tested, but it was being exposed. As my real character was being unveiled by reality, I had the shocking discovery that I had no real character. It was a form of outward character, but it had no real inner substance to maintain the person that I thought I was or hoped to be.

It took some harsh reality checks before I wisely concluded that the waves of life were intent on pushing me towards the shorelines of my destiny, where my silly notions would be flung against the rocks where they would be ripped to shreds, while character would be forged in me. It was when the foolishness of my notions were shattered that I learned the most important lessons of life. As I have shared in the past, there are only three of them, but they must constantly be reinforced even in calm waters.

They are 1) there is a God, 2) we need Him to save us, and 3) nothing makes sense outside of Christ. It is clear that only a fool will deny in his or her heart that there is a God. It is also a harsh reality that man in his self-sufficiency sees no need for God until life knocks him to the ground and begins to bury him under a pile of the useless rubbish consisting of nonsensical hopes, dreams and pursuits. It is from the pit of desperation that man begins to seek God to intervene. And, finally as the world becomes more insane, nothing makes sense except Jesus, the Son of the Living God.

The world is constantly revealing its madness. Some are mad for power, while others are obsessive about money, and some have become fixated towards material possessions. It is for these reasons that the revelation of Jesus alone can bring a semblance of order and hope in the midst of such lunacy.

The truth is, the currents of life and the storms of the world are escalating as mankind rushes headlong towards the climax of this age. The formidable storm clouds are no longer on the horizon; rather, they are upon us. The winds are carrying the gale forces that point to judgment. Before it is over with, every foundation will be shaken, all worldly governments will be brought down into utter defeat by an unseen hand, and the unbelieving, despots, and infidels will know God’s wrath is about to consume them in the fiery ovens.

The question we must answer as we face the angry waves of this present age, the destructive rocky cliffs of judgment, and the unmerciful shorelines on the horizon is, are we ready and prepared to stand? As believers, we know that all that is unfolding in the Middle East and throughout the world has been prophesied in God’s Word. As those who stand steadfast because of His Word, we must be realistic about the signs of the times. The signs are telling us where we are in this present age. Granted, we can hope that we will be spared or wish away the momentum of what is happening. We can selfishly pray it will happen to the next generation or we can ask God to stay the inevitable, but nevertheless, it is what it is. Prophecy must be fulfilled for it is what it must be for God to carry out His eternal plan of redemption and fulfill His promises.

The reality of this present age is that we are living in the last generation. We have the blessed hope before us, but we also have the great travailing that will produce the culmination of monumental, unspeakable wickedness that the Bible refers to as the mystery of iniquity. This mystery has been in the working since Satan took dominion of this present world. It has been planted and sown in darkness, but in each age it has made various types of appearances through godless philosophies, tyrants, and dictators. However, an unseen hand has kept it from coming to full bloom, and whether we like it or not, it is again being unveiled to make another final appearance. The signs declare that it is time for it to come to fruition. When it does, it will be judged by the righteous Judge of heaven. It will not only be completely defeated, but it will be rooted out.

Meanwhile, as Christians, we must brace ourselves to face the reality of our times. These are precarious and ugly times that we live in. The reality of this time is frightening and overwhelming. It could cause the strongest heart to collapse in utter fear. Even though we have the hope of Jesus’ soon return, we do not know what we will have to face and endure until He appears.

For example, according to my initial understanding about the days we live in we were not supposed to be here to witness some of the events we are now seeing on the horizon. Because of some of the popular teachings concerning the end days, I fear some religious people are going to fall away from their real source of hope, Jesus. We know Jesus is coming back and our hope must be in the person and not events. We must cling to the immovable Rock instead of grabbing at the various “winds of doctrine” that appear to be failing to hold true in the contrary waters of testing.

The reality of the time we live in is, it is what it is, and until we honestly face it, we cannot be prepared to endure it until we put off this body and walk through the door of glory. Whether it be through the door of death, or meeting Jesus in the clouds, we must be ready to face what comes at us.

The first thing we must do to prepare to face the present is to get rid of fanciful notions about the world we live in. So much of our unrealistic emphasis is about being able to selfishly live above personal conflict, slide through discomfort, and live in denial about tough times so that we can feel good about our particular life. I am sure Abraham would declare that it was not easy for him to leave his home and relatives in obedience to God. Joseph found no joy in being rejected by his brethren as they sold him into slavery. Not only did he experience the bitterness of rejection, but he was falsely accused and went to prison. I am sure it was not fun for Noah to build the ark under the watchful eye of the mocking, and with the speculation of the unbelieving, knowing that the whole of his generation was under a death sentence. Clearly, Moses felt overwhelmed with his new role as leader and deliverer of Israel. What about David being on the run from Saul, and I sure that Jesus’ ordeal leading up to Calvary was not fun, nor did Paul feel good about his zealous attempts to destroy the new Church and the persecution and trials that followed his conversion. However, each of these individuals realized it was what it was. You cannot change what was without first accepting the reality of it. You can only face what is as you realize that life is not here to bow down to you, and you can only impact what will be by making the right decisions in light of eternity.

Now comes our relationship with the world. The world produces its own form of reality. It is true that we have a certain dependency on the world around us. However, when we strip away much of our dependency, we must acknowledge that it has nothing to do with our spiritual well-being; rather, it is about maintaining some type of vain lifestyle that has no eternal purpose to it.

I cannot begin to tell you the number of people who refuse to face present reality because they desire to hold onto unhealthy aspects of their present life. Even though some of these individuals are Christians, they will not let go of their fanciful notions about life. They become anxious, angry, and mean-spirited as they attempt to secure their life here. Sadly, they sacrifice their relationships, testimonies, and credibility as they chase after the illusive, the useless, and the ridiculous.

The truth is, the abundance of America is almost gone. This is the other reality we must honestly face. Life as we once knew it has forever changed. We cannot let the currents take us into the deep, miry waters of wickedness, but we must be realistic about what has happened to America and why we are in such a mess.

As Americans, we have bragged about the type of nation we were according to the vision of our founding fathers without facing the people we have become. I must mention that this indictment against America must be more so leveled at the Church. It seems that much of what I call the visible Church is going apostate because it has compromised with almost every aspect of the world including the recent unholy agreement with Islam. This state in the Church was also prophesied in Scripture. As a result, many of the sheep who have been involved in such organizations are scattering, searching for the real living waters of heaven.

The truth is, we as a people have let that which was valuable slide into a cesspool of immorality, while trying to maintain some image of greatness that can only exist when man is morally responsible to God and others. As a result, we flung our sense of purpose on the ever-moving waves of pleasure, traded our moral compass for the false promise of comfort and happiness, allowed our identity to be stolen by despots, and squandered our real heritage away on things that have no lasting or eternal purpose. Granted, we have been a benevolent nation, but in so many ways it had nothing to do with an inner charity that spoke of character, morality, and kindness. Rather, much of this benevolence has either been given from the wicked premise of social justice (a false gospel) or because some humanistic sentiment was aroused in us. It also appears that Americans gave because we had excess; however, will that benevolence still exist when the waves of judgment erode America’s wealth into the angry waters of the world, dispelling it by the many currents of despotism and judgment?

Reality is hard to face, but for Americans, the luxury to avoid the inevitable is no longer. We are now being forced to face what has become because we did not properly confront what was. In essence, we are facing what has been sown for the past 100 years by the liberals, progressives, and Communistic influences of educators and government officials. With the merciful intervention of God, past generations recognized it and pushed it back. Each time these despots retreated back into their dark dens to reinvent themselves in such a way that the unsuspecting would buy their image and sell their soul to gain their wicked, self-serving goal for them.

As God’s people, we must face what is in order to spiritually survive what is about to be. The only way we can face such harsh reality is in light of the great I AM. He is the beginning, the end, and the “in-between” of all matters. He knows what was, but He is in charge of what is, and will work out what will be in light of what has been ordained in the courts of heaven. As the great Redeemer, He has addressed what was. As our Lord and Savior He addresses what is, and as our soon and coming King, Judge, and God, He will bring about what will be.

I am saying all of this because as I look at the events of today, I have had to stop and admit it is what it is. I can pray about what is, knowing that God’s work is not done. I can push through the fear of what is about to be in order to come to a place of abiding rest and confidence in the Lord. I can know what will be in the future because of the sustaining promises of God.

As believers, we must deal in reality in order to face each day in lieu of embracing the hope of tomorrow. We are not of this present world; rather, we are citizens of an unseen kingdom that will be unveiled at the end of this age. It is at the point of reality that we can choose the way of faith as the fiery ovens of the age refines it. We can choose the way of self-denial in light of walking towards our fleshly demise to gain greater life. We can embrace what is in light of the glory that awaits us.

We must remember who we are in Christ. As we celebrate the victory of Resurrection Sunday, we must keep the promises of God ever before us. As we cling to the reality of our life in the Lord as to what was, we can stand in confidence that this is the beauty of our Christian life, heritage, and inheritance. This reality in the midst of great darkness must become our perspective in light of what is and our hope in light of what will be. It is from this premise that we will be assured of standing and surviving the present darkness as we endure to the end of the time of travailing and testing.