Sweat blurred my vision. My back ached. My legs throbbed. I had been open-air preaching for close to three hours, and the crowd of nearly a 100 students had not lessened, but only grown.
The South Park Blocks, beautified with an abundance of green from late Spring through the summer, was cold and hard in the sober winter Oregon months. The sheet of an iron-grey overcast sky only magnified the stone and cement, damp with recent rain, that spread out between leafless trees which clawed high into the air above me.
The array of faces surrounding me this winter day was a mixed lot. Some were sober, others intently listening, still others angry. A heckler, who called himself Mychael, and had made it his mission to blaspheme YHVH in front of my face every time I chose to preach the Word, lifted his hands in his typical antics of mockery.
As Mychael poked fun at my preaching, many in the crowd would laugh. And as the Spirit of Yah burned deep within me, Abba spoke quietly in my heart.
This is why I will bring judgment to this nation, Daniel. Because it is filled with clowns.
I began to ponder Yah’s Word.
The nation was filled with people who made light of His Scriptures. These clowns were not just at PSU. They were the poor, the rich, the business men, the blue collars, the clergy, the church-goer, the young, the old. They were on an endless laugh track, making light of everything as the only means to drown out their accusing consciences. A fast food diet of football, movies, concerts, games, and entertainment all contributed to the frivolity of modern America -- a frivolity directly at odds with the sobriety needed to pursue a Yah who was about to shake the heavens and earth.
This would be one my hardest days at PSU. I never had a break. Mychael would constantly chide and mock me throughout the afternoon, and many times it felt the Words Yah placed on my tongue fell flat, not reaching any of the mocking multitudes.
Yet, in the midst of the mockery, I spotted one lone student under deep conviction. Abba’s Voice spoke to me again. There. That one. He is one I am calling into My Kingdom this day. Keep preaching, Daniel. Keep preaching.
Now it’s early Spring. Rain has been falling most of the day as I grip my umbrella in one hand, my damp and well-worn Bible in the other. Despite the wetness of the weather, a crowd of maybe 20 to 25 students have gathered to listen to the preaching.
My heckler from winter has long since departed, only to be replaced by a new one named Marcus. As mocking as Mychael was, his antics failed to even come close to the bile Marcus spewed at me.
As I preached, Marcus drew close to my face, his nose nearly touching mine, screaming vile things that my mind has since blocked out. He continued his tirade for a good half hour, until his voice finally broke into a hoarse-like sputter.
Sweet waves of the Spirit would wash me as Marcus yelled in my face, and by the time he was too weak to contend with me, a renewed strength filled my heart to reach out to those students who had gathered to hear the preaching.
That day would probably bring one of the most profound dialogues I would ever have with Marcus.
Tired, worn, his voice still hoarse, he approached me a few hours later and said, “Daniel, are you on drugs or something? How do you do this? How do you keep going like this?”
Marcus didn’t want an answer. He asked with a biting, sarcastic tone and walked away.
Flash to a new scene.
Having preached at PSU for a good two solid months throughout the winter, I had arrived on campus for the first day of the Spring quarter. A young Asian student with short cropped dark hair approached me before I had reached the stage from which I normally preached.
“Preacher Dan! I’ve been wanting to ask you for a long time -- how do you do it? How do you keep coming out here day after day and preach for as long as you do?”
Sincerity filled his dark brown eyes, and I smiled at him. “It’s not me. It’s not me at all. It’s YahShua who lives inside me. He sustains me. He keeps me going.”
The student nodded, his sincere questioning gaze fading into troubled puzzlement. I pressed a tract into his hand, and he thanked me before heading to class.
Love never fails. As I Corinthians 13 states -- Love suffers long. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
YahShua -- who is Love Personified -- is the only Person who could possibly sustain me during the months of preaching. The exhausting work of laboring not only physically but doing battle against spiritual powers of darkness unseen, would break the human spirit -- unless it is sustained by the One who can bear all our infirmities.
It is this unfailing, ever enduring Love that will become so essential during the dark days of Tribulation before YahShua’s return.
“And it was given unto the beast to make war with the Saints, and to overcome them: and power was given the beast over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” Revelation 13:7
“ . . . and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of YahShua, and for the Word of Yah, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands . . .” Revelation 20:4
These verses always conjure up for me images of the infamous French Revolution. In a matter of months, 18th century France had gone from a relatively peaceful nation, to one shadowed by the cold, stark blades of the guillotine. Blood flowed across the cobble stoned streets of Paris as a mob gone mad began to accuse anyone and everyone of treason against the newly formed “republic”.
This same mob-madness will evidently fill the anti-messiah, for we read in Daniel 11:44: “But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to take away many.”
How does one endure such a maddening holocaust? The endurance that will see us through is found in I Corinthians 13. Love never fails. In the face of the blackest hatred ever to have manifested on earth, the Love of YahShua will truly help the Saints to “love not their lives unto death”.
In the 1st and 2nd centuries, there were believers in Rome strapped to jagged, wooden poles, their clothes torn from their bodies. As they were lit on fire and their skin popped and sizzled on their charred bones, they did not scream in terror. They lifted up their voices in adoration and praise to their Maker. This stunning display of grace won many pagans to YahShua.
The Person of Love -- YahShua -- who filled these early believers, poured the grace needed upon them in that hour to endure even the fires of the crazed Roman emperors.
We cannot endure, it is impossible to take the stand we must make, if we do not have this Love growing within us. This is the ONLY way we will endure until the end, bearing in glorified, resurrected hands a shining crown of glory that will never perish. And no doubt, as we stand on the Sea of Fire and Glass, having overcome the beast, we will cast our glittering golden crowns at the Feet of Him who died to set us free.