By Charlie Johnston
I know people are edgy and need comfort now. The turmoil throughout the world has gotten so bad that only the most vainly self-absorbed and ambitious can ignore it. The stark division in families has become so great that it distracts some from how bad the world has become in their puzzled grief over how divided their family has become.
We have badly mangled the glorious liberty God bequeathed us through the many heroes who sacrificed, who lived lives of true martyrdom, that we might be free to love and serve God by loving and serving each other. This is what we have sown. Now we see, once again, what it reaps. Some are so captive to the feeding frenzy of their self-absorbed ambition they cannot see tragedy and chaos in any light except how they can manipulate it to make themselves seem more important without absorbing blame for it. I am often angry at such people, but more often I pity them. How empty a life without love must be! How desperately miserable a life devoted to proving itself a superior and entitled specimen of humanity when we are all such schlubs! How agonizing it must be to try to convince oneself of such things when one’s sins and failings are ever in one’s own mind, whispering to the arrogant from their own skull of their perjury! Unless they repent and turn back, it will go as hard for them as for Pharaoh’s Army.
Our societies – throughout the world – are crumbling. Like a once-vigorous 97-year-old man, they are so enfeebled a simple cold could kill them. No matter how devoted and pious we think ourselves, every one of us is complicit in this. We all killed Christ, whether by hammering in a nail or slinking away for cover instead of resisting effectively; whether by assaulting the faith or by ineffectively screaming instead of actually repelling the assault. If God were to leave us to our own devices, we would be doomed – and we would have well earned it. But God does not despise those He has created. As He has throughout Salvation History, He opens up a path back to Him. In His mercy, He allows the Storm we have brought on ourselves to proceed to collapse – that all the more might know how much they need Him, that as many as possible might be reclaimed to life, to Him.
In mid-May of this year, I was given intense instruction from the Lord over two days. He did not tell me when or how final collapse would come, but He did show me what would be the signs that I must act. He started out by rebuking me. It certainly isn’t the first time that has happened, but there has always been a gentle instructive character to His rebukes. Not this time. To put it charitably, He tersely chided me for being too gentle – that my purpose was not to get along with everyone, but to get as many safely to the shore of Rescue as I could, by whatever means I could.
Nine years ago, I was instructed to begin planning temporally for the period of Restoration – or Regency. Our Lord made it clear that I was accountable to Him for that period. Now some jump to the conclusion that that means I will be the Regent. That could be, but it could also be that I would act as an advisor to the Regent, or that I could continue to simply exhort people publicly on a larger scale. Or it could be by some means I cannot conceive of. God is a very tricky Fellow. You must be prepared for what the obvious is, at least in terms of our frail logic, but you learn to routinely see Him act in ways that never occurred to you – and even astonish you. What I know is that I am personally accountable to Him for this period. In all things, I am to carry the message of, “Be not afraid: God calls all men to salvation.” I reiterate that my three prime duties are to 1) defend the faith, 2) hearten the faithful and 3) defend the faithful. I am, in fact, to defend the Shepherds of our Church with vigorous abandon, even while being obedient to their lawful authority in all matters of faith and morals. The heart of my work is temporal, informed by my faith and joyful obedience to my Church. It has ever been. You have seen my work to hearten the faithful in preparation for the collapse – and many have thought it the heart of my work. It is, rather, the prerequisite. Yet as tough as what I am held accountable for is, you all have a tougher assignment. I only have to keep things temporally steady on the way to Rescue. Afterwards, you all have the responsibility of setting a permanent system that is fertile soil for the faith, but respects the freedom of all.
In God’s plan for Restoration, there is no violence – at least not from Christians (except perhaps for a few cases of actual self-defense – and most decidedly NOT aggression playing at self-defense). Oh, there is plenty of violence. We see it right now in places such as Milwaukee, Dallas, Orlando, Baton Rouge, Baltimore, France, Germany, the Middle East, Ukraine – just to name a few recent places. That is the violence incident to a dying culture going through its death rattle. We can’t help that. It must come and all we can do is to endure until it is complete. We had a part in it, but we have no part in it now if we have chosen to be participants in preparing the way for Rescue.
As I said, in mid-May I was given explicit instructions on when to act and how to begin. It shook me for a while. By any human reckoning, the instructions would have me walk defenselessly to my certain death. It was my son who soothed me in the first week of the aftermath when I told him of it. Recognizing my fear, he said, “Dad, don’t you know that is how God always acts? If you aren’t killed that will be a sign in itself to help give heart to people when they need it desperately.” He was right, but it did not completely erase my concerns. Oddly, my fear is not primarily over my own death, but that a premature death there would rob many of hope. Yet I am resolved to live obedience to the end, however scary it is.
There is a time for a captain to soothe his frightened troops, to put his arm around them and give them comfort. But that time is not after they have been called to battle stations. People are human – and can’t help but sometimes lose it in the face of terror if their temperament is not suited to it. But they can’t have arms wrapped around them when on the verge of battle. If they lose it then, they must get a grip or get out of the way and go back to their berth. We must stare death in the face and resolve, with Thomas, after hearing Jesus’ determination to go up to Jerusalem even amidst the mortal plots against Him, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” (John 11:16) Thomas was not convinced they weren’t going to their death, but He chose to go with Jesus until the end. For a time, that sort of resolve may be all we have to sustain our purpose.
I know people need comfort. For a time, though, the only true comfort you will find will be that of comforting those around you. God DOES have a plan.