The Apostle John of Patmos
John the apostle, once fondly known as a 'son of thunder', was getting to be an old battle axe now. He moved somewhat more slowly and on more creaky joints around the humble living space that John now, half jokingly and a little sadly, sometimes called home. While Patmos wasn't too bad in itself, in his old age and exile, his heart was in no way tied to the island penitentiary. Rather his emotional ties and heart strings unraveled out over the wave tossed ocean, and bent out towards his sons and daughters in the faith. It was this great concern for the believers that inspired his waking moments. He was, to be sure, still the 'beloved' disciple to whom our Lord spoke and of whom The Lord had said to Peter, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?"
Once physically a much more impressive figure, he carefully re-lit the fire, which began to crackle and throw shadows on the walls of the small and sparsely furnished room. As the fire flickered into lively flame, so too the flame of his great love for his Lord whom once he had walked and eaten with, whose teaching he had sat under and who had called him friend.
Much older now, than when he had walked Palestine as the friend of the Messiah, the flames danced as the apostle focused his attention on the scroll before him. Later the fire burned down and the not overly insulated elderly gentleman again pulled the blanket tighter around himself. He began to focus his mind on the prayer that had formed in his heart, and then he began actively to pray.
It was a warm and passionate outpouring of faith and emotion. As the voice rose and fell, now fast came the words and then slow. The saintly prayers were then followed by some melodious songs of faith and joy, sung with feeling both for his own encouragement and as worship to the Lord, with a heart full of love and gratitude.
At what point the elderly man moved from the realm of active and heartfelt worship of the Lord and prayer, to a more passive quietness and a listening, waiting; no, not sleep, not yet. Not a natural dreaming with rapid eye movement between waves of deep slumber; no, this was a stillness and an alertness, at once preternatural, real and spiritual: a private visitation of a man's spirit and soul, with The Almighty. With the beloved apostle almost resting his head again on the bosom of the Savior, and with a sense of the disciples all around in attitudes of rest and conversation... this time only the embers of a small fire kept the room company. The old man may not have been able to say if he were in the body or if he had crossed completely into another realm; for in a vision so bright, alive and real; he heard behind him the Voice, as of a trumpet.
Turning to see, he saw, among a group of seven lamp-stands The One: like the Son of man, and glorious in appearance. And, the loud, and golden voice said, "Do not be afraid, I Am the First and the Last. I Am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I Am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and of the grave!" And in His right hand, the Glorious One held the seven stars, who are the messengers of and to the seven churches...(Rev1)
When the Apostle John came back to a sense of the ordinary Sabbath day rest there at Patmos,it was to a realization that the Spirit of God was blowing into life a powerful message of light and life for the believers. He sensed that the message would be encouragement in the Living Christ, couched in shadowy portents of events to come. The writings he had in mind would be carefully constructed and would detail vision and image like none other. It would be scripture, explained by and explaining scripture. Its purpose would be the benefit and encouragement of the believers.
The old saint's heart went out to the brothers and sisters in the faith; a troubled but triumphant family. As John the apostle's heart was drawn down the centuries to the final encounter with the living God, he realized that most of the faithful of the Lord were still to be drawn into the broken-stepped, fellowship-family of humbly obedient child-like believers. He knew that they would be instructed by his vision of The Christ; and that The Spirit of God would enable them to positively respond to the upward call. Just as he and the first generation of believers had been safely shepherded through the vale of tears, they too would be safely shepherded to the throne of grace. Miraculously, the faithful would go forward in slow progress. Despite trial, setback and opposition, a great though often hidden pilgrimage of saints, would wind along the 'narrow way' towards the great heavenly re-union and wedding feast which would once and forever, close out the world of time and usher in eternity.
The old Apostle's heart beat faster in anticipation of his own role in publishing again the gospel news of the Kingdom of heaven; and, of the great heavenly faith-family reunion. His mind's eye began carefully formulating the words and phrases to be wrought into a great new invitation, which would once again be sent out among all the churches. His writing this time would be a powerful challenge to faith and encouragement; parceled and packaged in apocalyptic mystery. As always with scripture, he knew that the message would best be understood and illuminated by the light of the Elder Brother, as reflected off of the old rugged cross, and interpreted in the light of all previous scripture - God breathed.
A log fell apart on the fire, causing for a brief moment a small flash of gas combustion and a miniature thunder clap. The flare of light showed the old apostle on his knees, arms raised in worship and supplication. The Savior's presence was so palpably near and real. Thanksgiving flowed off the old man's lips. Lips which had drunk deep droughts of living water - living water now rising up a flood from within the old saint's spirit; welling up in a fountain of worshipful emotion, Living Water of the peace of God welling out from deep in his spirit, in a light and joyous spring, floating and carrying out to eternal life.
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Great description, with a wonderful lesson. Thanks for sharing it.