Monday, January 25, 2010

Extreme Devotion


They huddled inside the room while hearing the screams of fellow Christians being butchered outside. Pastor Hendrick Pattiwael and his wife were helping to lead the Indonesian youth camp, and they felt responsible for the young people in their care.

The camp had been a joyous time of spiritual growth and worship. Then they were attacked.

When the radical Muslim mob surrounded the building where they hid, Pastor Pattiwael went outside. Distracting the bloodthirsty mob’s attention away from his wife and the young people, the pastor was attacked while the others escaped.

“Jesus, help me.” They were his final words.

His wife next saw him lying in a coffin. Ugly wounds crisscrossed his torso and arms. In shock and anger, Mrs. Pattiwael cried out to God. “How could you let this happen? Why didn’t you protect my husband?”

But the Holy Spirit reminded her of her husband’s words only days before the attack. “If you love Jesus, but you love me or your family more, you are unworthy of Christ’s kingdom.” He told her that he was ready to die for Christ’s kingdom.

Remembering those words, she refused to become bitter. She still works with her church in Indonesia. The advice that she would give Christians in free nations is simply this: “Seek God more earnestly, so that you can stand in the midst of more trouble.”

We don’t have to go looking for trouble. It already has our address. Jesus often reminded his disciples that trials are part of daily living. Seeking God more earnestly does not mean seeking more trouble for our lives. No, the benefit of seeking a deeper relationship with God is to better prepare us for the inevitable. We don’t have a choice about what troubles come our way. However, we can choose to have a relationship with God that prepares us for trouble. Some trials may mean losing our lives for Christ's sake. Yet this is not the real sacrifice. The extreme sacrifice must come long before. We must sacrifice selfishness at every level in order to develop intimacy with God ahead of time. When we have sacrificed all to pursue a preeminent relationship with Christ, we will have already done the hardest part.

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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