Sitting before me was a single engine plane floating on the surface of the Pacific Ocean. My itinerary for the day involved me getting on that plane, and flying to a pair of remote lakes found in granite bowls deep in the middle of the Misty Fjords National Monument in Alaska’s Inside Passage for a day of fishing with four of my friends. I could not wait to get on that plane and see these pristine waters, however, excitement was not the only emotion I had as I awaited my turn to board the plane. In addition to happiness, fear also was bubbling to the surface of my psyche, but why?
Well, in order to explain the fear I was feeling, you need to understand something about me. I have spent the first 34 years of my life with this love/hate relationship with bears. I love to see them, I would hate to be eaten by one . . . and as I prepared to board the plane, this dichotomy was in full effect. You see, I had heard that Alaskan Grizzly Bears were almost always seen at one of the lakes we would be visiting, and we should “watch our backs.” In addition, I had spent my time at a layover in the Seattle airport reading a book entitled “Alaskan Bear Attacks.” With that in mind, let me amend my previous statement . . . my feelings about bears just moved from love/hate, to fear and paranoia.
Even with that in mind, however, there was little I could do. Regardless of my personal fears and insecurities, I would be boarding that plane headed to those lakes in just a few minutes. It was at this point that up walked our guide who would be leading our extravaganza. His name was Dan, but I prefer to call him “Big Dan.” Big Dan was a former police officer, former fire fighter, and I am pretty sure, a former WWE wrestler. Big Dan stood about 6’3” and tipped the scales at a cool 250 pounds. Big Dan had spent half his life fishing summers in Alaska, and had routinely taken groups just like ours up into the Fjords. Big Dan had the manliest gotee I have ever seen, as it raised off his face a good six inches, and was a salt and pepper mixture of brown and grey. To top off the image, Big Dan was carrying the largest rifle I have ever seen. The bullets he put into that gun felt like cannon balls, and Dan looked as though he knew how to use it. As I stood on that dock waiting to board that plane, my thought was simple, if Big Dan is going to the Fjords, I will gladly go with HIM! As a matter of fact, the thought I had was that I would go anywhere with HIM.
Though most of us will not have the opportunity to fish the Fjords in the next few months, and though there are few Grizzlies waiting to devour us on the streets of your hometown, I believe this story serves as a great picture of a deeper spiritual reality in our lives. Though we will not face any bears this fall, there are plenty of other things that we will face that we have a love/hate relationship with that are potentially devastating to our spiritual lives. As we enter this season of life, no doubt many of us at the core of our being are hoping to grow in our relationship with God. Like a beautiful mountain lake, we cannot wait to get there, but at the same time, we are fearful of what we know lies ahead of us. For some of you, you enter this season fearful of starting something new. You may be leaving the comforts of your friends and family and heading into the new frontier of a new job. You may be fearful that loneliness is waiting to devour you in this season. Others of you are entering this season desiring to grow in your relationship with God, but knowing that what awaits you is a high speed internet connection and a search engine that can lead you to disaster. You know that pornography can devour your thought life in this setting, and so you are fearful. Still others of you have some other issue that is looming large in your life as you look to this season, and you begin to wonder how you might overcome this fear.
To answer this question, we need to turn to God’s Word. On the pages of the book of Revelation, we see a contemporary portrait painted for us of Jesus Christ. To the beleaguered church of the first century, God wanted to remind them of who Jesus really was, and that He was still in charge. To a confused church in the 21st century, we also can learn a lot by looking at the portrait painted of Christ in the first few verses of Revelation chapter one. You see, our most common image of Christ is either one of a baby (who we feel we need to protect), or a dying bloody body (who we want to pity.) Though these images were certainly a part of Christ’s life on earth, His current state is one which need not be protected or pitied. The picture painted for us of Christ in Revelation 1:12-18 is as follows:
“I (John) turned to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone ‘like a Son of Man,’ dressed in a robe reaching down to His feet and with a golden sash around His chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw Him I fell at His feet as though dead. Then He placed His right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid, I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
When you read that passage and see the description of Christ there, you see One who is clearly in authority and in charge. He carries a large sword, and His purity and power are evident in all that He is and does. Though He is awe-inspiring He tells us not to fear. When you have conquered death and evil, what is there to fear? When I see this image of Christ, I am reminded of one thought . . . I will go anywhere WITH HIM!
As you head into this season of life, and as you identity the areas of your life which are on the margins of fear and doubt, remember this contemporary picture of Christ. Take a good long look at the Savior and take courage. We do not enter into our lives on our own. He is with us (Revelation 1:20 tells us that the lampstands are symbols of the church, and Jesus is “among the lampstands), and this ought to encourage us to go anywhere with Him.