In these very unusual times we cannot help but meditate on the warnings in scripture that speaks to the end times. “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places.” (Matthew 24:6). Yet, even if we hold that no one knows the day nor the time as prophesied — we do know that the word of God has been missioned to all corners of the earth.
Not only in these times but in all times, we must pay close attention to the promptings of the Holy Spirit within us. How many times have we all had a nudging? A warning? A ... something just doesn’t feel right. Or perhaps a loved one telling us that they are concerned about us. More than once, my father, a Christian man, would tell me he just “had a feeling” about something pertaining to my life and sure enough he was on target. How much more does our heavenly Father know our needs and stand for our protection?
Yet, in a world filled with so many distractions, we sometimes, if not many times, overlook these quiet whispers in our ear. I look back upon my own life and along the way trusted when I should not have trusted; was innocent when I should have been wise. And I put myself in harm’s way because others had intentions that were unfortunately hidden, deceitful and self-serving.
Perhaps, these are all a part of our life lessons. But, as a child of God, we must be as scripture tells us in Matthew 10:16 “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” I was indeed the sheep among the wolves. Had I been able to revisit my past, I would not have trusted the boy with eyes as blue as the ocean. I would have seen the dark truth behind his magnetic charm. I would have not allowed the thief to come “but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” (John 10:10). I would have known my true friends. Brothers and sisters. I would have known the ones who loved me and the ones who wore a disguise, a mask, covering lies and manipulation.
Yet, I was not a warrior. I was a recruit in training. Do not even soldiers go to boot camp or are they just thrust into battle unprepared? As Christians we go to spiritual bootcamp. And I was in the trenches, for years, for decades.
However, our stories do not end in the trenches. God has a plan. And He has a plan for every single one of us if we trust in Him. And He will work every sorrow, every pain, every torment, and every suffering, for His glory. He revisits our past. Not only does He revisit our past, He heals our past.
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper and every tongue that rises against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.” (Isaiah 54:17). I think of everything that has happened to me and how by almost incomprehensible and inconceivable odds I have survived everything. Not only have I survived, I am thriving. Yet, it had nothing to do with the odds. It wasn’t luck, or good fortune, magic, sorcery, kismet. It was only God. God who put His hand on me — because I drew near to Him in my suffering.
The most incredible freedom has come over me. Even now, in these unprecedented times. Even now, when dramatic change and shadows cover the earth. When the familiar is unfamiliar. When the openness of the world has been replaced with many closed businesses, schools, activities, and even those that are reopening have new procedures and restrictions. And yet, freedom. Freedom, because I am no longer bound by who or what sought to harm my soul.
The time comes when we realize on our faith walk — that the freedom we seek isn’t the freedom to do anything we might desire, to go anywhere we want to go, to follow the ways of the world — but to align our deepest longings with God’s will for our life. Be ready and receptive to hear the Holy Spirit within to move us in that direction. To be ready and willing. No, this is what the prophet Joel spoke: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visons, your old men will dream dreams.”
Are these the last days? I do not know. But I do know that as Christians, we should indeed live as if these are the last days. We do not want to be the one looking for oil for our lamp at the 11th hour. Nor should we wait till the 11th hour to burn in love for our Lord. Our whole life should be our burning. Our whole life should be our following Him. And till our last breath — whenever that may come — we should listen to God’s plan over our lives. His purpose for us is greater than anything we could ever imagine for ourselves.
Jackie Morfesis has a BFA in fine arts, MA in liberal studies and teacher certification from Rutgers University. She held a Rotary Scholarship to Greece in the arts and humanities. An artist, poet and educator, she is a Greek Orthodox Christian and involved with prison ministry in the Charleston area.