I’ve been thinking lately how odd this phenomenon is. When life is tranquil, we tend to drift away from God like ducks gliding across a pond. We may not actually leave the pond, but we paddle over here to pursue this interest, and we spend time over there doing that. We may cast cursory glances back at the Farmer, or perhaps we forget Him altogether. Until the waves get rough. Or a hawk flies overhead. Then we come streaming back, squawking noisily for help. It’s during those times of trouble we cultivate the closest relationship with Him. Why do we do this? Why are we always drifting to the edge of the pond during times of blessing? Why is it so hard to maintain a close relationship amid distractions?
I’ve been reading about the persecuted church this month. I’m rereading The Heavenly Man, by Brother Yun and Paul Hattaway. Brother Yun is a modern pastor who recounts the often miraculous events and the mindboggling growth of the persecuted church in present day China. And I read Richard Wurmbrand’s autobiography, Tortured for Christ, for the first time. Pastor Wurmbrand lived through the Nazi and later the Communist takeovers of his Romanian homeland and spent many years in prison for his work in the underground church. He established Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) in 1967, a mission that gives aid to the families of imprisoned and persecuted Christians.
Both of these books have been challenging and eye-opening. We don’t realize how soft we are here in America. Neither do we realize the blessings we miss out on by not living on the edge of our faith as these saints do. We get so distracted by pleasures, by leisure, by hobbies, work, retirement plans, church programs, vacations, life goals, and the predictable routine of life that our focus drifts off the eternal.
We, who have every freedom to share our faith without serious repercussions, don’t do it, while they risk their lives and families to save one more soul. We have so many entertainments that we don’t always take twenty minutes a day to spend in the Word. They memorize entire books, because ownership of a forbidden Bible is so precious. Surrounded by our glut of food, medical sciences, and government safety nets, we forget our every breath is borrowed from God. They live their lives in His hand.
So who is truly more blessed, Americans or the persecuted church?
I have a burden for my country and my family. I minored in history. I still dabble in it. I’m well aware that no nation has ever pulled out of the moral and economic abyss we’ve descended into. Yet God promises to heal the land of believers who repent and call on Him. What’s the better way to pray? That God would bless America? That He would revive and heal our land? Or that He would allow rough times through which many more might be drawn to Him? It’s a conundrum that reveals my cowardice and sets my eternal perspective at war with my temporal hopes for my kids.
I guess the only thing I can do is swim close to the Farmer, trust Him with the future, and teach my kids to do the same.