See, the storm of the Lord
will burst out in wrath,
a whirlwind swirling down
on the heads of the wicked.
The anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he fully accomplishes
the purposes of his heart.
In days to come
you will understand it clearly.
I did not send these prophets,
yet they have run with their message;
I did not speak to them,
yet they have prophesied.
But if they had stood in my council,
they would have proclaimed my words to my people
and would have turned them from their evil ways
and from their evil deeds.
- Jeremiah 23:19-22
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we are all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
May I confess something? I wrote a post with this title and quotations about two acquaintances. Each had marvelous testimonies. One could easily not be true in that the change that the person talked about was no change at all. In fact, they acted worse after professing Christianity than before, now thinking that their sins were forgiven, so why not sin more. The other, I feel, is true and could be true of so many people. They invite Jesus, as Revelation 3:20 states, to come in and dine, but instead of joining Jesus, they sit holding the door open. For a variety of reasons, they never seem to grow in faith. And if you did that to your friend, your friend might think you are holding the door because you cannot wait for your friend to leave.
But those types of walks not matching talks stories are all too common.
Whether I like it or not, I have two testimonies. They talk about the talk matching the walk or the walk matching the talk. Both are testimonies. We say what happened in our lives or what we think happened in our lives and then we live the life that we talk about. The saying goes that actions speak louder than words. These may sound like quotes, but they are truisms that are often woven into famous quotes.
Eerily, the Dickens quote fits my mindset, and could easily be a Christian testimony. Each couplet seems to mirror the issues at hand.
Testimonies of Christian conversion usually talk of life before Jesus coming into the person’s heart to stay. In some cases, it could be both the best of time and worst of times. We could be on cloud nine in our personal life, but spiritually we are dead inside. That is common. But for the person who is struggling just to get two puzzle pieces to fit together, never mind the whole puzzle, it is all worst of times, but then they meet Jesus – the best of times.
The wisdom-foolishness couplet is simple, in that to deny that there is a God is foolishness, according to the Psalmist. We come to God in either belief or incredulity, and God gives us the faith that solidifies our intellectual belief into a spiritual awakening or turns incredulity into amazement.
The season of darkness for the Christian is followed by the season of Light, because Jesus is the Light of the world. And Jesus is Hope; we can cling to that Hope even in the midst of despair. Whether we have anything before us at all, based on earthly hope, God will give us what we need, even when we have nothing. And Dickens final couplet is true of each of us. We either have Jesus and we are going to Heaven, or we will “go the other way.”
The Scripture is talking about false prophets. They may sound plausible, but what is their motivation? Yet, someone with a great testimony and a lousy walk with the Lord could be having a hard time with the initial battle between good and evil. It may not be a situation of false prophecy.
These battles of darkness and Light in our lives are the inevitable tests of faith. Regardless of your status in life, there will be tests of faith. Many people will fall by the wayside as a result. But our walk must match our talk. That is a tough one when we are flawed human beings, but we will know Christians by their fruit. When no fruit is evident, we end up like the fig tree just before Jesus was betrayed. It withered and died.
And it was very hard for me to write this post, even on the second attempt, because when I point a finger at anyone else, I have a few more pointing back at me. I am shocked when I realize that on days when I am not doing chauffeur duty, I spend at least 12 hours researching and writing. On chauffeur days, my research and writing time gets reduced by 4-6 hours, depending on whether I must wait or simply drop off and return home. With 8 hours of sleep or mostly trying to sleep, that leaves four hours of eating meals, bathing, and oh yes, doing things that I should not do. I have practically no time to misbehave, but I seem to do it with regularity. And sometimes, God must tap me on the shoulder and tell me to let it go, or I will self-flagellate in my guilt, not accepting the Grace offered me – yet another example of misbehaving. How can someone be that naughty, to do something wrong when there was so little time in the day in which to take one’s eyes off Jesus?
No, we have a tale of two tales. We should have a walk that matches our talk. Only God can sort it out. I know that I am forgiven. I know that I am saved, but when it comes to knowing about others, that is above my pay grade.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.