After 13 years and nearly 130 columns, we come to the closing of one chapter of sharing spiritual life together and the opening up of another in a couple of months—in a new column with a new title in The Good News magazine. Over this past decade and then some, you and I have intersected at the heart with so many lives and events, as we have explored together how to maintain a realistic but upward focus on the spiritual journey set before us. Time and again, we’ve striven together to hear the reassuring echo of “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21 Isaiah 30:21And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.
American King James Version×).
Some columns were about extraordinary people, but so many dealt with ordinary people like us, who did extraordinary things to ponder and emulate. Some were kings; some were firemen; some were just children; some were not even followers of Jesus Christ. But all were used to illustrate day-to-day principles of responding to the call of “This is the way” in a world increasingly devoid of spiritual and moral clarity.
Lives of purpose, stories to remember
I fondly recall the story of Jordan’s King Hussein opening up his palace to orphans in his kingdom. I picture with vivid memory him coming down the stairs of his palace with wide-open arms to receive the embrace of his little friends as they rushed up to greet him.
I remember with tears in my eyes the column written after 9/11 as I shared the courage of New York’s firemen, as they steadily went up those stairs of no return. Their courage was beyond human explanation, as they slowly moved up towards oblivion while everyone else rushed below to safety. Their steadfast courage fired me up to even more devotedly stay on the godly path laid before us—to walk a different walk even when seemingly so many are headed the opposite direction in a world teetering under Satan’s spiritual terrorism.
I remember sharing the story of our granddaughters when their eyes were wide as saucers at the scary flash of lightning and the rumbling of thunder over the mountains out our back door—that is, until Grandma and I turned and told them, “It’s okay; that’s God’s voice in the storm.” I remember writing how they emotionally settled then and that we continued to watch those same dark clouds that didn’t go away, but now with a different perspective.
I also remember the letter I received after writing that account. It was from a man relating how his brother had been struck dead by lightning and the tragic impact this had on his entire family for years. So much so that he had been horrified to be around anything electrical. Quite understandable! Yet he wrote to share how after reading that article his fears dissipated. His life changed from fear to faith. In fact, he wrote that he had just rewired a house and that he and his daughter were watching a lightning storm from the upper floors of a hotel room while their home was being remodeled. With lightning all around them, he too mentioned to his little one on that stormy night, “It’s alright; that’s God’s voice in the storm.” And his story of life-changing transformation became another column to show us “this is the way.”
This story highlights why so long ago this column was placed exactly where it is on the back cover of World News and Prophecy. Worsening conditions and news stories proceeding toward the dire events prophesied in Scripture can startle and rattle us just like the lightning and thunder out our back door if simply left to themselves—apart from understanding that a loving God is fully in control and that He is not only in the storm with us but above it all. And yes, to be blunt, we are only children grown up—and we, too, need to be reminded often as to whose voice rises above the storms of man’s making. We need this reminding so we don’t lose heart—the subject of a more recent column.
Imagine studying prophecy without heart. Without heart we are dead on arrival, understand little, and serve no one. Thus, “This Is the Way” was always designed to be the exclamation point of hope underlined in faith that our Heavenly Father will always grant us His instruction of “This is the way” as we travel towards His Kingdom.
Sharing some parting words in prayer
But now, allow me to share some parting words in my last column by this title. As Christians we often pray before departing from one another, and thus I would like to share a godly prayer with you that will guide you ever forward in following God’s directive of “This is the way.” While I will continue writing in a new column, nonetheless life’s intersections are a time to pause and take stock of who we are and whom we serve before taking another step.
Perhaps Paul’s words in Colossians 1:9-13 Colossians 1:9-13 9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10 That you might walk worthy of the Lord to all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, to all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness;
12 Giving thanks to the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13 Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
American King James Version×best frame what I have striven to express in so many words about so many lives over so many years. And thus I share his prayer that was not for the Colossians only, but for all who would read and take it to heart. It is a prayer with distinct steps to guide us from the ordinary to the divine—from that born in fear to that which thrives in faith. Indeed, “this is the way” to get our mind off the gathering storm clouds of this age and the tempests in our personal lives and allow our life’s energy to serve beyond what we can see—to entrust all to Him who sees all and does nothing apart from His will.
Paul begins his prayer by stating in verse 9, “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding…” When we understand that God’s great purpose for us is to eternally experience Him, His Son and one another in an intimate family relationship (see John 17:20-21 John 17:20-21 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me.
American King James Version×)—that this is why we were created in His image (see Genesis 1:26-27 Genesis 1:26-27 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
American King James Version×)—it releases us from a world of mirrors in which we see just ourselves and opens a world of windows to expand our horizons.
Such privileged relationship by God’s own choosing and our surrender in return makes us ever mindful that we are to be molded into the stature of His Son (Ephesians 4:13 Ephesians 4:13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
American King James Version×), who “became wisdom for us from God” (1 Corinthians 1:24 1 Corinthians 1:24But to them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
American King James Version×; 1 Corinthians 1:30 1 Corinthians 1:30But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
American King James Version×). While the suffering that comes with the fires and storms of life will still beset us, God will grant us wisdom and understanding to face these challenges by His grace and in answer to the heartfelt prayers of others like Paul.
He continues in Colossians 1:10 Colossians 1:10 That you might walk worthy of the Lord to all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
American King James Version×, “… that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;…”
Paul prays that our lives will worthily reflect the sacrificed life granted by God the Father and given by Jesus Christ for us to break through the barrier of sin that separated us from God and continues to separate the inhabitants of this present evil age to this day. Such full appreciation of the divine gift alters our mind, and we no longer live to please ourselves but to please God in what we say and do. The wonderful thing is that the more we obey Him, the more He openly shares. Whenever the path of “This is the way” seemingly narrows from our perspective, it is only that we might experience a fuller walk on a broader path on the highway of righteousness to experience worthwhile eternity.
Strengthened with all might
Paul then beseeches God on behalf of his brethren that they might be “… strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy…” (verse 11). Christ’s own words in John 16:33 John 16:33These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
American King James Version×foretold tough times for those who would follow Him, and yet they also resound with joy. “In the world you will have tribulation,” He said (it’s not optional); “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” It is this very proclamation that frames the spiritual portrait of those mentioned in Revelation 14:12 Revelation 14:12Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
American King James Version×: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”
Paul’s prayer and my prayer for you, as it should also be your desire for others in prayer, is that you might be strengthened regarding “the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the work of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:19-21 Ephesians 1:19-21 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
20 Which he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
American King James Version×).
Paul continues in purposeful plea to God in Colossians 1 that we of all people might be those “… giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Colossians 1:12 Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks to the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
American King James Version×). Paul is praying that God’s people be ever thankful, recognizing that ungratefulness is always the first step toward departure from God.
He further asks that God might by His Spirit remind and convict us that “He has delivered us from the power [the authority or dominion] of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom [the reign] of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13 Colossians 1:13 Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
American King James Version×). Yes, that we would be spiritually reminded that Christ came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8 1 John 3:8He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
American King James Version×) and to lead “captivity captive” (Ephesians 4:8 Ephesians 4:8Why he said, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.
American King James Version×), releasing us from Satan’s influence and the penalty of sin.
All prophecy points to this One
This column concludes, then, with thoughts of prayer for you, faith in the coming fullness of God’s reign, and a personal hope that you and I will remain citizens of that better Kingdom.
I hope you will remember that the purpose of World News and Prophecy as a whole, and my small role in it, has always been to point to that great Personality of the book of Revelation who trumps death, who has the keys to eternal life and who, amazingly, calls us His friends (see John 15:13-15 John 15:13-15 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you.
15 From now on I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you.
American King James Version×). Yes, the One who overwhelms all before Him—even the dreaded four horsemen of the Apocalypse as He rides on His white horse as the divine fifth horseman on behalf of our Heavenly Father (Revelation 19:11 Revelation 19:11And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war.
American King James Version×). It is to this One that all the prophets of old pointed, and it is through Him that our Heavenly Father will bring eternal peace throughout all dominions, be they in heaven or on earth.
Thus it is fitting to conclude 13 years of “This Is the Way” with full focus on the One whom Scripture reveals as “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6 John 14:6Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
American King James Version×). It is in the words of the apostolic prophet John that yet once more we hear the echo of “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21 Isaiah 30:21And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.
American King James Version×) and gain a sense of upward focus for our eyes and steadiness for the energies of our heart. Having seen it all and heard it all by angel and by Christ in vision, John exclaims in his conclusion at the end of Revelation: “Amen [meaning “So be it”]. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”