By Bob Barney - The Plain Truth -- 1st Publish in 2014
“It's a fine line between the darkness and the dawn
They say in the darkest night, there's a light beyond”
Tragedies and sorrows abound. The tragedy in El Paso, Dayton, and Newtown Connecticut... sorrows in Aurora Colorado and places around the world we have never even heard of. What's it all mean, and how can anyone cope with the pressure of an evil world. One thing I have learned over the years is that people face tragedy differently. Some can't handle their sorrowful times, and just “tune out.” These people will not face reality no matter what the consequences. Others, jump into the face of tragedy and fight with everything they have to stay sane. Many turn to God, and others to “religion.” Often some go into a morbid period of denial. I can very well understand family members of the slaughtered in these senseless shootings fitting into one of the categories above. My hope is that they turn to God for help, but many may not. It is sad, but the world we live in is not God's world. The apostle Paul said that this world is ruled by the Devil and his demons masquerading as false ministers of Christ who pray on those in distress and lead many to despair. He says in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that, “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”
Some have such a difficult time grasping the practical this concept- that this is not God's world, perhaps because we think of God as Creator and marvel at the staggering beauty of what God has made. In that sense it is His world. But the society is not. In 1 John 2:16, John writes, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the.” William Barclay in his commentary on this verse writes, "To John the world was nothing other than pagan society with its false values and its false gods" (p. 56).
It is hard for us to grasp a loving God with hardships, tragedy and depression, but because we are not living in God's world, under God's Laws and following God's religion, we are subject to living in a world that will hate us, hurt us and for some, kill us. Jesus warned his followers that “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues [today it might be from churches]; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them." (John 16:1-4) Paul added, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
I am not writing here as a mere observer, or a teacher; but rather, as an expert, familiar with the pains and sorrows of failure, misery and despair. Many years ago, after I began seeing God's word (called the Bible) as the truth, I traveled to Texas to meet the person who had probably more to do with my confusion and reeducation as anybody alive. But first a little history.
I was born into an average middle-classed New England Episcopalian family. My mother was a devote believer; my father was too, but not outwardly in the way mom was. He grew up very quickly and terribly hard during the depression. His father died when he was very young, forcing his family to be broken up and sent to various farms to work as cheap labor – slave labor. At 12 and 13 years old many kids like my dad, ended up living with farm families, just for a bed and a meal. Little pay – if any.
They were often treated like mere slaves. My dad tells of times that he would have to stay in the kitchen, as the farmers real kids celebrated Christmas in the living room, opening their presents and having a great family gathering. Dad was not included. That's how he grew up in the real world - one that was often cruel and uncaring. Dad dropped out of school after the 8th grade in order to work. That experience made him sure that he would better himself, and that his family would never suffer as he had. He succeed, through hard work, and a sense of honesty and character. All who knew him respected him, most I would say looked up to him.
His story changed. Dad worked hard, and people noticed. Like Joseph in Egypt, he had a knack to turn things around and make people money. Soon this got the attention of the Nestle company, and Dad was hired and quickly worked his way up the ranks to a high paid management position. In doing so, we (his children) grew up in a storybook life. We lived well in the 50,'s 60's and 70's. As for me, I was good in school, went to college and ended up graduating at the University of Connecticut in the mid-70's. We were the first family in my neighborhood (and maybe in my town) to have a color TV set, a second car, a swimming pool, and impressive vacations. dad did all of this through holding down 2 and 3 jobs at once! He worked almost every day, 10-12 hours a day.
Now back to my story and my trip to Texas in 1978. My life began to change during these years, as I went from initially believing in God- as my mom did, to one that came to be convinced that God wasn't real. School taught me that God wasn't real, and that the Bible was full of fairy tales. Modern science, not ancient religion, was the real hope for mankind. One day I started listening to a guy on the radio who challenged about everything I thought I knew. His name was Garner Ted Armstrong, and his show challenged me to do my own research and not believe anyone, not him, or my teachers or some man, but prove through original research what were real facts, and what was myths. I soon found out that religion was full of myths, but so was science!
To make this short, I soon learned that evolution was as mythological as Pandora's box! It was shot through with holes, junk science and a bunch of junk science. I learned when one investigates any subject that they think they know, they often realize that they knew very little, and many of the experts teaching those subjects are more like “preachers” than teachers. So after several years of studying everything I could, I found myself believing in God, and more importantly believing what God said in the Bible! I have found over the years that many people believe in God, few believe in what God says! There is a big difference.
In 1978 I traveled to Texas to meet the man that had changed my life so drastically. I was surprised with our meeting. I told him that I believed God was calling me, but I didn't have a clue on what I was to do. What he said blew my mind. “If God is calling you, you better be prepared to have a quite miserable life,” he surprisingly said. “You better be prepared to lose your friends, family and sometimes even your own mind. You will be torn apart within, and often feel hopeless and weak. You see, God doesn't call people to save them, or for that matter to make their lives better. God calls those who will work for Him, and pay the price that will be required - which is often heartache and pain.” I didn't know what to say.
He continued, “Have you read the Psalms?” You will find those of David are mainly filled with fear, defeat and devastation! David didn't have a great life, you know- and neither will most people following the call of God. What you will have is the beginning of the greatest friendship you will ever experience. You will learn that God is very hard on those He loves, and that through the tough discipline, God will turn you into His tool to bring the Gospel to others searching for that same truth that you are searching for today.” I confess, this wasn't what I expected to hear. But is was, the plain truth of what was to come.
He turned out to be right. My life has had up and downs, great blessings and great sorrows, but my travel down God's pathway has never stopped. I have had great periods of depression and doubts. Many times I have thought God had left me, only to find out it was the other way around. I struggled with myself, and my God. There are times even today I worry about the things that in the long view doesn't mean anything, I still get distracted by this world. I still make mistakes and often find myself crying like a baby, pleading with God for help. The other day, feeling sorry for myself, as we struggle to make ends meet, I heard the words of this song which said:
“It's a fine line between the darkness and the dawn
They say in the darkest night, there's a light beyond”
“But the ending always comes at last
Endings always come too fast
But they pass too slow”
As I heard those words, I literally cried, because I know that God is there, and allows the darkest night, but we also know that His light is just around the corner. And it is for me, and it can be for you.
You see, I don't just believe in God. I know God. I know how God thinks, what God feels, and what great wonderful things God is going to do when His kingdom comes to rule on this earth. All those who ever lived and died will find they have another chance! All will have the chance to relive their lives without pain, suffering and evil caused by the Devil. I do not have to worry about saving anyone in this world, because everyone will have the chance to be saved after the Devil is chained in the world to come.
All those children that died so brutally in Newtown will live again. Not now in heaven, as churches falsely proclaim, but at their resurrection when Jesus comes back to rule as King of Kings on this very earth where we walk on today! All their pain will be gone and happiness will abound. I often stupidly worry about my day to day life, but I know that everyone has the chance to someday find the real God and The Plain Truth of His Gospel.
However some of you are being called now, and you are the FirstFruits of the great harvest of God. These first fruits are the saints, the Christians of the Bible, who make the choice in this lifetime to follow God and His Law and believe what God says. They are people like John, Peter, Paul, and maybe you! Yes you too, if you are being called can know today what you and everyone else will know tomorrow - Those who are Christians will not be raised back to mortal life at the resurrection, but raised to Spirit at the time of the coming of Christ, and we will be His brethren. Our mortality will be turned into immortality and we will be “Born Again,” not of flesh and blood, but of spirit and become fully begotten members of the God Family, made out of the same spirit that God the Father and Jesus His Christ are made from. We will see God the father and Jesus as they are, because we will be like them!
I laughingly say that, if you want to join a miserable bunch of losers, ex-whores and ex-thieves (as the Jews called the early Christians) then anyone willing to walk the walk are accepted. Most don't want to join now, but even with the heartache and bumps in the road, it is great knowing the mind of the Living God, and what the truth is. And the best part? You don't have to fill out an application and send it to anyone. There is no cost, you simply tell God it's what you want – and if He is calling you – YOU WILL GET THE INVITATION SENT BACK, but probably not in the way you expect.
You may be being called now to teach others about the truth of God and the future of the world. It is an awesome task. If you are, times will be tougher than ever, but you will find that “fine line between the darkness and the dawn and that light beyond the darkest night.”