What is it about growing older that causes us to sigh, "Whatever happened to the good old days?" I can remember my father saying this and reaching back even further, I can remember my grandma saying it too! The danger in this, I am learning, is that one becomes overwhelmed with a sense of loss.
Coming into the beautiful understanding of the Jewish roots of our Christian faith was a powerful milestone in my life's journey. I clearly remember the trip to Israel when my spirit was awakened to all the fullness of the "Old Testament" that I had missed in my church years. It filled me with an insatiable hunger to dig deeper into the Word of God until my understanding of Hebrew words and the Jewish culture that Jesus was born into and lived in, drew me closer and closer to Him! His teachings and parables finally made perfect sense and the joy of learning the whole Torah was life-changing.
Soon I found myself part of a world-wide movement with many anointed teachers opening up our hearts to the Scriptures, Hebrew music and dancing bringing new Spirit-filled power to our worship, and new songs flowing through the Spirit to my own heart. Conferences sprang up where we could all gather together. The sound of the shofar awakened us to something ancient and yet altogether "new!" We discovered that the Feasts of the LORD were for all of us who are in Messiah Yeshua, as the Bible shows that we will be keeping them even into His Millennial Kingdom Reign (Zechariah 14).
With sweet nostalgia I recall my very fast Passover. We spent all afternoon roasting the lamb while some of the other women sewed beautiful banners of the 12 tribes to place on the walls. The young people practiced their graceful Hebrew dances and the fragrance of Middle Eastern dishes wafted through the church. Children carried beautiful flags and banners in the worship and for the first time, we all shouted "Next Year in Jerusalem!" It was a season of such joy, I can barely find words to describe it. But it seems to have faded away. Did the enemy steal it from us by causing foolish arguments and divisions? Or was it like so many other powerful moves of God that sweep over the people for a time and then give way to something new?
As I have found myself lamenting the loss of those glorious days, I realized that I had had a season just before that, that was also thrilling, but also came to a close. A team of seven, calling ourselves "Whitestone" had traveled across the U.S. and Canada for almost seven years in a motorhome, in a joyful ministry of evangelism and worship music. During those years the Holy Spirit had poured so many new songs into us that we could barely get them written and recorded fast enough; and our mission was to awaken a sleeping Church. God's call of evangelism on my life continued for the next 10 years as I traveled to many different nations with the Living Gospel, and I didn't want that season to end either!
So, two mornings ago I sat with the Lord in my morning prayer time and I poured out my heart of sadness to Him. "Whatever DID happen to those glorious days, Father? Where has it all gone?" He asked me to do something He hasn't asked for a long time. "Put your finger in your Bible and open it up to read. I will speak to you there." The Bible opened to Ecclesiastes Chapter 7 and when I got to verse 10, my heart stopped! It read, "Do not say, 'Why were the old days better than these?' for it is not wise to ask such questions.
Wow! How personally He spoke to me! Right there in my study He met me and rebuked me like any loving father would. But He didn't stop there. He then told me to turn back a couple of chapters and read as He had more to show me. Ecclesiastes 5:19b-20: "...to accept his lot and be happy in his work - this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart."
Gladness of heart! Being occupied with gladness of heart, right where we are, in whatever phase or years of life, in whatever we have been given to do. My lot right now is, as I wrote in my last blog, to be perfected in love toward my sweet husband, who is greatly declining in dementia. And in the midst of that journey God has graciously given us this precious baby boy to care for. He gives us purpose as we take care of him together, and he fills our lives with laughter and gladness of heart. It isn't as glorious as the years I've been reflecting on; but I get it, Lord. "Why were the old days better than these?" is not a wise place to spend time. God is never still. He is always changing, and always preparing His next great move. In the meantime, He can keep us occupied with gladness of heart if we are willing to find it in the simple blessings of each day.
As prophecies are being fulfilled at a more rapid pace and signs appear all around us, it is becoming evident that the return of our Lord and Savior, Yeshua, is getting nearer and nearer. I don't know about you, but despite my great excitement over this thrilling event, I have some fear. Am I really ready to stand before Him? Luke 21:36 says, "Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."
I DO pray this prayer. I AM always on the watch. I do ask the Lord to keep me safe in the terrible times of tribulation that end-times saints will go through - and I have a strong faith that He will, so this is not what generates fear in me. It is the last part: "that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man." How can I possibly be made ready for THAT? Standing before my Righteous King and Judge, giving account of my life -- that is an overwhelming picture that somewhat terrifies me. I know the FEAR OF THE LORD is a good thing! We must have that fervent, healthy awe and respect for Who He is. The Lord our God is a Consuming Fire, a Potter's Wheel, a Blazing Torch! But I came to realize that I must be missing something if I feel so unprepared to stand before Him.
Then a friend of mine in Israel sent me a book she has just completed and asked me to write a review on it. It is not yet in publication, of course, but when it is released, I will let you know. It is a veritable FEAST of Scripture and deep understanding to help guide us through these troubled waters ahead of us, WITHOUT FEAR. The book contains a chapter on the Judgment Seat of Messiah. As I read it, one passage absolutely captured my heart and convicted my soul, all at the same time. Do you remember when, as a child, your father disciplined you, and somehow you felt hurt and loved all at the same time? This is how I felt when I read this verse: "In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have boldness on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:17-18)
The answer to my haunting question flooded my soul. We will be able to stand before our Righteous Judge, Yeshua, with boldness only when LOVE has been perfected in us! When I can learn to love as He loves - I mean really love the "unlovable people" in my life - I will be able to stand before the Son of Man without all this fear. I will be as HE is in this world! Through these verses the Spirit showed me that my fear is fueled by regret. I am not regretting things I have done in the past nearly so much as I am regretting things I have left undone! Suddenly in that moment of revelation, I realized that I am not perfected in love, and that is the work that must be done in me to drive out fear and get me ready to stand before Him.
I know now where to start. The Spirit showed me the person I must reach in and love with my whole heart, without reservation, without condition. And when I have done that, then He will show me another, and then another, so that in this world I am like Him - and eventually these wobbly legs will shed fear and boldly be able to stand!
Kelly Ferrari Mills