“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55, NIV2)
Weeks after I wrote about Stephen’s stoning, one verse remained vividly in my mind: The one mentioned above. In fact it was haunting me. That verse certainly will change the perspective of our world.
Imagine being surrounded by enemies whose only purpose is to stone you. They yell at you, slander you and ridicule you. Your life is on the line. How can you stand undisturbed? How can these menaces mean nothing to you? Only when our reality is beyond this world, when God is our reality, and we can see solely His presence.
Have we ever experienced such glory? If we ever had to do so, worries would become a thing of the past.
“Wait a minute! There’s a large crowd surrounding me with the purpose of killing me. That’s a lot to worry about!”
Tell me, will your worries miraculously stop the stoning? If so, worrying is truly a worthwhile endeavor, but if not, it’s purely a waste of time!
Elisha’s servant once woke up surrounded by an enemy army with numerous horses and chariots. Naturally his first thoughts were: “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” (2Kgs 6:15b, NIV2) He truly was quite worried! Wouldn’t we be the same?
However Elisha responded wisely: “Don’t be afraid . . . Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2Kgs 6:16, NIV2)
The same was true for Stephen!
Only when Elisha prayed for his servant: “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” (2Kgs 6:17, NIV2), could his servant realize the presence of our Mighty God. Maybe it’s time for us to have our eyes opened as well to the very reality of our Father!
“But, but,” you may interject, “The scenario concerning Elisha led to victory. Not so with Stephen!”
There again, we worry because our eyes are focused on our reality instead of God’s reality.
To Stephen, God’s perspective was everything! His reality was on our Father. This is why he stood undisturbed, even while being stoned! Even his last words were words of peace: “Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lordship, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:60, NIV2)
“But he died!”
Yes, in total peace. We may forget at times where we are heading when we pass away, but not so for Stephen. His thoughts were just as the apostle Paul: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (Phil 1:21, 23-24, NIV2) In other words: we have nothing to fear! We will go to a place that is “better by far!”
Truly if our reality is focused on our Father, all of our fears and worries will become insignificant. Why? Because the “One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4b, NIV)
We either focus on our reality or on our Father’s. One leads to peace, the other to worries. The choice is truly ours.
If we have some difficulty in focusing solely on God, ask for His help. He will answer you (See Mat 7:7)
I never faced a squad whose intention was to eradicate me completely from this world, although at times I came close. However, whenever I focus on the reality of my Father, solutions are provided to me, answers that I would never, ever fathom.
Last year, for example, I had an episode of acid indigestion. Whatever I tried led nowhere. Only when I walked into the reality of my Father did I get my solution. God gently whispered the remedy: “Drink some milk!” When doing so, the acid indigestion calmed down immediately. Wow! Thank you Dad!
Just last week I woke up with my bottom teeth hurting terribly. I would rinse my mouth with Listerine. It freshened my mouth, but it did nothing to bring relief. Only when I went for a walk and my lower teeth started to hurt me so bad, did I realize that all of my focus was on my lower teeth. It was time to reverse this role! I started to focus on the reality of my Father and there again God whispered to me my solution: “Use the canker sore solution that is in your bathroom.” Canker solution? But I have no canker sores! But why not? Within 2 days all pain was gone. All my bottom teeth were back to normal.
As my youngest one said: “It’s way better to depend on God! It’s way cheaper than paying hefty medical bills!”
Where is your reality?
(To access the entire “Facing Unimaginable Odds” devotional series, please click here.)