My generation is lost. Following the great enlightenment, of the 17/18th centuries and the cultural enlightenment of the sixties, which our parents grew up under, once having children, they instructed us in their ways. We were told that our personal happiness was the highest goal; and suffering must be avoided at cost (and is never from God!). We were told that if we married and became unhappy, God would not want us to be so, divorce was justified, allowed, even recommended. Sexual pleasures outside of marriage were expected, and then allowed; considered normal and not in conflict with the Faith. All moral boundaries became suspect and left up to a personal consciousness never developed in the first place. The grace of God became a blanket to cover all our actions, Gods forgiveness was always extended (leaving out the ‘go and sin no more’ exhortations!). We were told that God only has good things for us so we should pursue whatever made us happy and fulfilled; that was God’s will. Disciplines were lost, because our own parents could not subject themselves to them, how could they train us to do so? Not only do we now lack discipline but also following the disciplines (prayer, fasting, giving/tithing/silence etc.) is associated with religion, which must be avoided at all costs!
BUT! When I consider the hero’s of the faith, those written about in the Bible and those who have lived through out history, I see men and women who surrendered, or desired to surrender, themselves completely to the will of God regardless of what it meant during this temporal life. These were men and woman who recognized their souls were little more than unruly toddlers crying out for a candy at every turn, toddlers who needed to be trained so they could grow into adults, mature in surrender.
We were taught a false understanding of happiness and peace. In Reality, (useing the capital to designate true Reality from our reality or life as we see it.) true joy and peace come from submitting to the will of the father no matter the cost, knowing that both the happiness and pains of this life are but for a moment while the eternal life of God will never end!
I consider those like Hudson Taylor who, though he could afford more comfortable dwellings and satisfying food, determined to live in his now as if he were already in China. He prepared himself for the sufferings he would surely endure for the sake of the Gospel knowing that by doing so those who lived in darkness would see the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ and become awakened to eternal life! This was his joy and pleasure- to suffer for the sake of Christ.
I consider the missionaries (Ed McCulley, Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian) who entered the Amazon jungle in Ecuador to reach out to the most violent tribe believing that their violence sprang from not knowing their creator God and His great love for them. These men who were martyred for the sake of the Gospel, who did not fight back, whose families did not require vengeance (as expected), but instead gave up their life as well to go back to those who had killed their husbands and fathers and love them. The blood of those martyrs called out to the Huaorani (Auca) Indians and the light of the Gospel shone in the jungle as many saw Christ and believed in Him.
I consider men and women willing to live a celibate life if God asked them do, willing to forgo the physical and emotional desires for a spouse for the call of God. Those who cared more for holiness than personal desires, those willing to discipline their bodies, their eyes, their hands, their mouths, all for the sake of Christ. Those who counted all these things a joy realizing that it is not about what one gives up in this life but what one gains from giving of their whole life to the loving creator God.
These heroes of the faith, and many more, knew that suffering was not to be avoided but accepted when it came. They knew suffering could be a gift from God to refine the and train their own soul. They believed that in this life our suffering, with grace and endurance, allows the light of Christ to shine into the darkest places.
Today, I consider Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American citizen; a man working to build an orphanage in Iran, fulfilling the call of the Gospel to care for the orphans, a man arrested for his faith and sent to one of the worst prisons in Iran. Pastor Saeed is tortured, beaten, and mocked through the day, every day. He is now suffering internal bleeding from so much abuse, and yet he still prays daily for the salvation of those who beat him Here is a man who hugged the fellow prisoner who lunged to attack him. A man who bids us to look at all of our circumstances in light of the Gospel of Christ and decide now if we will give all of our life, holding nothing back, knowing that in all things- God is still Good!
These decisions are not ones made when the trials arise but now, in the dailies of our life. When Elizabeth Elliott (wife of Jim Elliott, one of the missionaries to the Ecuadorian Jungle martyred) was asked about her husband dying in the jungle she simply yet emphatically answered that Jim did not die in the Jungle. The reporter, confused because it was very clear, her husband died in the Jungle, asked her again. She responded that Jim did not die in the jungle- he died when he got down on his knees and gave his whole life to Christ!
These were men and women who believed in God- more than yearning for the fleshly desires of this world, yet they experienced greater joys that we could ever imagine. They saw life reborn, they became vessels delivering the miracles of God. These ran not for an earthly crown, which withers away, but for an eternal crown which they will receive as they enter the gates of splendor, cheered by all for the sacrifice of their whole life for the glory of God. They were over-whelmed by the all-consuming love and truth of God and gave their all in return!
These are the lives my generation must meditate on and emulate. The lives we must live in front of our children and talk to them about in the evening. Becoming and raising a generation knowing true happiness, self-sacrifice, and the love of God. A generation fulfilling our call on earth, spreading the light of Christ in the midst of so much darkness. A generation repenting for the ways in which we are sucked in by the world and bewitched by her ways. Surrendering our whole self to the will of God knowing that He is good and He is love!
Imagine a world where believers lived with such self-abandon for the sake of Christ! Imagine a church over-whelmed by the holiness of God and desiring that very same holiness present in their life. A church willing to live so closely to the truth of God, unwilling to waiver, unwilling to submit to culturally relevant demands often contrary to “The Way”. Imagine a Church so in love with God they are not their first priority. Imagine you, me, more in love with God everyday, so much that we desire to train up our own soul as we would a child. Us, willing to give up our favorite television show to pour over the word of God. Us, willing to give up our favorite meals to practice the discipline of fasting- growing closer to God in the process. Us, understanding the Grace of God is not a blanket covering everything we do but the power to live a crucified life, the power to overcome sin and our own selfishness, the power to actually give our lives fully to Him.
“And people who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives... and when the bubble has burst they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.”
Missionary and Martyr for the
Sake of the Gospel in Ecuador