The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born (Revelation 12:4)
I read somewhere recently that Billy Graham, the famous evangelist who brought so many to Christ, really regretted getting involved in politics and wished he’d spent more time with his family.
I thought that was interesting because it is sometimes a temptation, isn’t it, to get involved in social and political causes (however ‘noble’ they may seem) that can actually lead you away from the things that really matter i.e. your nearest and dearest – which in turn can cause you to drift from Christ. Even a man as strong in the faith like Billy was clearly vulnerable to this kind of thing.
The book of Revelation is full of curious images and symbolism and one of these is of a woman in labour about to give birth to a son. But it turns out that, unbeknown to her, there is a terrifying dragon who is lurking, waiting to devour her child the minute he is born. (Revelation 12: 1-6)
But notice the child is safe until he is born. Inside the womb he is protected – it is a haven where he can develop and grow without any outside interference, and he is being sustained completely by the mother. The dragon can’t get his ‘claws’ on the child until he is outside the mother’s protective womb.
This illustrates exactly what God does with us too doesn’t it? The Lord often gives us times of ‘incubation’ where we are alone with him for an extended period of time – away from the ‘outside world’ where he can help us grow in spiritual strength. These times are not always easy because some of us are ‘chomping at the bit’, desperate to get out there and get ‘involved’ in something! But we need to be very careful that we don’t try to rush things or take matters into our own hands because this could result in a premature birth. In other words, we will go out there unprepared, vulnerable, not fully developed and not totally up to the task. Thus when we are hit with all of life’s ‘slings and arrows’ which come from all directions, we stumble, lose our footing and lose sight of God and the things that matter.
The ‘slings and arrows’ often come from a place we least expect, don’t they? Perhaps we get involved in a charity thinking we are helping others and it turns out there’s infighting and money being spent on the wrong things, or it may even come from the church itself.
We may think we are strong but our sustenance comes from Christ alone – very quickly our lights will be extinguished when we are faced with never-ending demands, accusations or internal politics which we are ill-equipped to deal with.
So the message for me, (once again!) is be careful – keep the focus on Him. Incubation periods can sometimes feel long and protracted but we must remember that the ‘devil’ is out there ready to devour us. And if your intense incubation period is over, keep coming back to Him regularly for nourishment and sustenance; don’t end up like Billy – full of regrets!