When You Think it’s All Over, And That End is a New Beginning

John_on_Patmos

So John, beautiful, sensitive evangelist, is exiled to Patmos, a Roman penal colony, by the Emperor Diocletian.

It’s all over for him. He who had been one of the three with Jesus at every climactic moment of his ministry; who had leaned on Jesus at the Last Supper feeling the physical and verbal beat of his heart; who stood by Jesus at the Cross, seeing the heart of the Gospel; who intuitively saw the connection between the Old and New Covenants, beginning his Gospel echoing Genesis, In the Beginning was the Word.

Oh, he’s done for.

Here he is on barren Patmos, the sun scorching him by day, and the moon by night, the few springs hard to find.

It’s all over, John. You had been commanded to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to all creation.

But here you are, alone on Patmos.

You who once wrote with the pen of an angel—you have recorded your memories of Jesus.

Nothing new is happening. What are you to write?

* * *

Meanwhile, The Roman Empire rushes on in its empirely way, and the Christian Church flourishes underground, getting stronger in its paradoxical way. And John: alone, forgotten.

Silent.

He who has learned so much, and has so much to teach has no platform; no readers, no listeners, nothing…

* * *

It’s apparently all over for you, John…

Except for that one thing that still can happen to the one exiled to Patmos, who feels that all his life has been a failure, and that life is almost over

One thing no one can rule out: not the exile, or the prisoner, or the solitary.

God.

God spoke to you.

* * *

The Word of God.

The Presence of God.

It changed everything for John.

He hears a loud voice like a trumpet, and turns around to see a man whose eyes were like blazing fire. His voice was like the sound of rushing waters. And from his mouth a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance (Revelation 1: 10-16).

And Jesus said

“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look: I am alive for ever and ever!”

Do not be afraid, oh hidden one, for you are hidden in me. CTT I am the Alpha and the Omega, the A and the Z, and within this alphabet all words are possible, all things are possible.

I was dead, dead as you fear your future is, dread as you fear your hopes, your work and your influence are. But now I am alive.

And in me, all the crushed, hidden, suppressed things in you shall come alive too. Tweet: And in me, all the crushed, hidden, suppressed things in you shall come alive too. From @AnitaMathias1 http://ctt.ec/3WP3a+

 In me, your future is bright and full of possibility.

 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, in a book.”

And at his word, John begun a new chapter of his life, writing… Words of comfort and revelation for 7 churches and 21 centuries.

* * *

Diocletian exiled you to Patmos, John but Diocletian was not writing the story of your life, though he may have thought he was. He was but a pawn in the Grandmaster’s good plot for your life.

You were exiled to barren Patmos out of fear and malice and the desire to control and neutralize you.

But that was exactly the plot Jesus permitted, to get you out of the way of ministry; out of the way of teaching; out of the way of adulation and followers and rapt listeners; out of the way of Simon who would buy your power, and James and Peter who might wonder who was the greatest.

This barren island, where no one wants to hear from you, no one wants to speak to you, where is there nothing to do and no voice to listen to but Christ’s, this place which seems an insane location for the man who knew Jesus better than any man did, the beloved disciple, for heaven’s sake, who could tell all the world about him– why would Jesus permit you, John, to be in Patmos?

Because you did have more to write, as it happened, and he had to get you quiet to hear his words, away from teaching or ministry or church planting, or trouble with the Romans, or trouble with the Jews, away from it all, the important necessary work of building a church that would be the hope of the world, to do something even more important.

To choose the better path.

To hear what the man with eyes like fire and a voice like the sound of running waters said, and to write it down in book.

* * *

Oh reader, does your life feel becalmed? As if all your bright dreams have come to nothing? Does the Empire run on with you, both the Kingdom of the World, and the Kingdom of Christ, while you are forgotten in Patmos.

You are not alone. He who sits upon the throne walks unseen beside you. Tweet: You are not alone. He who sits upon the throne walks unseen beside you. From @AnitaMathias1 http://ctt.ec/3e8HC+

Your future is bright, for he who is light itself can turn your trajectory around in a moment. Tweet: Your future is bright, for he who is light itself can turn your trajectory around in a moment. From @AnitaMathias1 http://ctt.ec/LB7eM+

 For every seismic change begins within. Tweet: Your future is bright, for he who is light itself can turn your trajectory around in a moment. From @AnitaMathias1 http://ctt.ec/LB7eM+

And while He chooses to let you stay exactly where you are in your dark season, he who is light itself will be for you light in the darkness. Tweet: He who is light itself will be for you light in the darkness. From @AnitaMathias1 http://ctt.ec/Y24IV+

* * *

Oh you who feel the sting of failure, do you know that being beaten and coming to the end of yourself are powerful things? Closed doors force you to look for the door that Jesus will open and no one can shut. Tweet: Closed doors force you to look for the door that Jesus will open and no one can shut. From @AnitaMathias1 http://ctt.ec/ft9a2+

Oh you who are well and truly beaten in what you set out to do, you who are well and truly out of energy, be of good cheer. You will now be forced to rely on a power beyond yourself for sustainable strategies…and this I know, his strategies will beat yours, any day, every way.

When everything seems to have ended, a new chapter can begin when you see the face of Jesus and hear the word of God to you.

Be not afraid.

* * *

So you who are on Patmos, what do you do?

First of all, surrender the rest of your life to Jesus. Open your hands, and pour all the dreams and ambitions in them into his hands. Pour your health and your talents, your money and your resources, or the lack of them, all the things you have going for you, all the things you do NOT have going for you, into his hands

Do not dream of beginning a new chapter, a new project, a new enterprise without his direction.

Is your life too quiet? Do not fight the quietness. Tweet: Do not fight the quietness. From @AnitaMathias1 http://ctt.ec/Ni2gL+ Do not seek to make things noisier unless he tells you to.

Are you unknown, and unrecognised; are your words dormant within you? Ask him to give your words wings, to bring them to all those who will be blessed by them. Hand your career over to him as clay, asking him to fashion something beautiful, something lasting with it.

Train yourself to act not by might or by power, not by force or manipulation, but by God’s spirit. Tweet: Train yourself to act not by might or by power, not by force or manipulation, but by God’s spirit. @AnitaMathias1 http://ctt.ec/1aNU0+

When you think it’s all over, and you think you’ve failed, and are on a downward spiral, too old to do anything new, beautiful or important, get quiet on your Patmos, for as many days or weeks as it takes, until the noise of the outer world blows away.

Get quiet, beloved failure; listen hard for the one with blazing eyes, with a voice like a trumpet.

The answer may come immediately, or in the ten days it took the prophet Jeremiah to hear the word of the Lord. Or longer.

Then do what he tells you.

It may be that when everything is lost, he will speak, he will whisper, whisper softly in your ear. Stage directions that you really need to hear.

And all your past will be an insignificant chapter compared to the great chapters he is now going to write in your life, you and he together.

And all the words you have written will fade into insignificance compared to the words you will write, as he whispers softly in your ear.

He saves the best for last.

And if he says so, “write everything you have seen in a book”. (Revelation 1:11)

* * *

Tweetables

When you feel everything is dead, lost & over, but God suggests a new beginning. From @anitamathias1 Tweet: When you feel everything is dead, lost & over, but God suggests a new beginning. From @AnitaMathias1 http://ctt.ec/ej6mH+

As we listen to God, the trajectory of our lives can turn around in a moment. From @anitamathias1 Tweet: As we listen to God, the trajectory of our lives can turn around in a moment.  From @AnitaMathias1 http://ctt.ec/db1Da+

When everything seems to have ended, a new chapter can begin when you hear the word of God to you. From @anitamathias1 Tweet: When everything seems to have ended, a new chapter can begin when you hear the word of God to you. @AnitaMathias1 http://ctt.ec/G576W+

Within the Alpha and the Omega, all words & all things are possible. From @anitamathias1Tweet: Within the Alpha and the Omega, all words & all things are possible. From @AnitaMathias1 http://ctt.ec/nAtax+

Image credit

Get all my posts quietly in your inbox by entering your email:

“Thin Places,” where the Boundaries between the Spiritual and Physical World are Almost Transparent

Celtic Christians prized “thin places,” where the boundaries between the spiritual and physical world are almost transparent. Where we can sense shimmering in the physical world the just-as-real, invisible, supernatural world, charged with the glory … [Continue reading]

Images from a Magical Week at the Isle of Man

02-IMG_3467

The Isle of Man is a perfect cross between the glories of Ireland and England. We loved it. We crossed on the Ben my Chree, which has a dog lounge.  Merry loved it. Here is the Cashtel yn Ard stone circle, facing the ocean. The burial place … [Continue reading]

At the End of Broken Dreams, an Open Door

rp_1d105e050ede66e2c1981ff309e78c92.jpg

About 20 years ago, in Williamsburg, Virginia, we used to sing this in church,  "At the end of broken dreams, an open door." I sung it because I liked the sound of it, but I had no interest in the open door at the end of broken dreams, because … [Continue reading]

On Liturgy (which I Dislike)  

rp_Choir-Medieval-Ladies.jpg

I was interested to hear the leader on my silent retreat say that different approaches to prayer or the spiritual life are like food. Different people like different things. Such a simple way of expressing a new thought for me. (I had a mental … [Continue reading]

The Only Form of Multitasking that makes you Cleverer

juggler

My daughter returned from a talk by neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield informing us that multitasking decreases fluid IQ more than smoking marijuana, or losing a night’s sleep does. My daughter, as intense as I am, walks around the house … [Continue reading]

Grazie Signore. “Thank you, Lord, for people who have greater gifts.”  

rp_738815.jpg

In his excellent The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning mentions the limited Antonio Salieri, court composer to the Holy Roman Emperor, who was conscientious, devout, and wildly jealous of the wildly gifted Mozart who--neither conscientious, nor … [Continue reading]

Wriggling towards Shalom

rp_cropped-dancing-2.jpg

When I find I am stressed, or distressed, or sense a vague fear and unease, I like to pause there and then instead of going through the day with this undefined, subterranean unease. What is it? What's bugging me? What is this nebulous dark cloud? … [Continue reading]