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Take Heart! The Punishment Has Been Overcome

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 4:18

The tyranny of the urgent is powerful.  For me, it is safer to be carried with that strong, rushing current of loud and threatening demands than to push against it or even try to climb out onto the bank.  At least the urgent current seems to be going somewhere and sitting on the bank would just be, well, sitting on the bank…kind of like those childhood songs about bullfrogs.  To keep the river analogy, rivers are formidable and intimidating.  They take everything in their paths and seem to be on an important mission.  Their waters can offer life as often as they can destroy it.  But they are to be respected.  My problem, I think, is that my respect of the urgent at some point moved to submission and even trust so that I feel safer and more confident “obeying” its tyrannical rule than submitting its demands to the person and work of Jesus.

A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.  I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.             John 16:32-33

He does not offer me a trouble free world or one free of urgent and loud demands, but He does offer me a less troubled heart…peace – in Him – in this world.  Part of the peace is that He Himself is peace.  But He also explains the peace as the outcome of His overcoming the trouble, the demands and the tyranny of the urgent.  They might try to dominate me, but He and His Kingdom dominate them.  They might threaten to destroy me but He has already defeated them and will be the only king standing in the end.  Where my failures earn punishment, He has taken my punishment…not just eternally but even daily.  The worst consequences that I dread become mere shadow creatures on the wall, eliminated as soon as the lights are turned on.  From reconciling relationships to reconciling bank accounts to reconciling “blown” opportunities, there is no form of death that can hold Him down, or prohibit His power to restore life.  There is no large or small area of creation nor aspect of life outside the reach of His redemptive work.  No mistake or even blatant sin is fatal for those who rest in Him.

Practically speaking, this means that the threats fired at me by the tyrant of urgency become bluffs.  I can stop being bullied by the fear that I am getting behind in an unrecoverable way.  I don’t have to be threatened by accusations of pending fatal errors that I may be making at every turn.  He overcomes even my fatal errors and brings life from death.  For this reason, the consistently unfinished tasks around me no longer need condemn me.  The “opportunities missed” with my children to play, dream and create which are replaced with frantic survival mode type wasting of time need no longer condemn me.  By His person and work, in His gracious and extravagant love, punishment no longer lies around every corner unless I work frantically to avoid it.  Take heart!  He has overcome the world, and He graciously overcomes even me.

Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice.   Surely the LORD has done great things!  Do not be afraid, you wild animals, for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green.  The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.  Be glad, people of Zion,  rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful.  He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.                                                                                            The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm— my great army that I sent among you.  You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.  Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.  Joel 2:21-27

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