Would we be willing to die for the gospel? That was the question I posed to my dear husband this past weekend. We had just visited the Bible exhibit at the "Christ of the Ozarks" in Eureka Springs, AR. Our tour guide did a wonderful job of taking us through the evolution of the written Word of God. We saw ancient writings on vellum (calfskin) and papyrus. Amazing! For a lover of history, I wanted to look at every one of the thousands of Bibles. Especially the ancient manuscripts. We heard the stories of brave men and a few brave women who risked their lives to translate and print the Bible in the english language. Men who felt it was important that all people have a personal copy of the Word in a language they understood.
Every time I hear stories of the sacrifices made before me that have enabled me to have religious freedoms, I ask myself the same questions, "Would I?" If I am honest, I'm not sure. I tend to love things comfortable. For example, we stayed in a cabin during our little weekend away. Now when I say cabin, I mean a tiny little cottage with gas fireplace, flat screen tv, and wireless internet. Not a traditional cabin! My idea of camping always includes air conditioning and a bathroom. See what I mean! Could I stand persecution?!
Maybe the bigger challenge during the age we live is living godly in abundance. Maintaining intimacy with God when we appear to have every thing we need or want. When there is no crisis. When the world is literally at our fingertips. How do we stay connected and intimate when we're not fighting for our lives because of sickness or desperate for the money to pay our next house note?
There is no doubt that challenges and test tend to draw us closer to God. These times deepen our dependence on Him and strengthen our faith. So how do we live in abundance? Part of the answer surely is by choice. Maybe those times on the mountaintop are really a test too. Will we still hunger for a deeper relationship with God "as a deer pants for water" when we are full and satisfied? Will we still pray, read the Bible, attend church services, give of our time and talents? Why must there be a crisis?! Deuteronomy 6:10-12 gives this warning "When God, your God, ushers you into the land He promised through your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you, you're going to walk into large, bustling cities you didn't build, well-furnished houses you didn't buy, come upon wells you didn't dig, vineyards and olive orchards you didn't plant. When you take it all in and settle down, pleased and content, make sure you don't forget how you got there - God brought you out of slavery in Egypt." (MSG) Be careful, don't forget what God saved you from. Don't forget how it felt living in bondage in your personal Egypt.
Where are you at today? On the mountaintop or in the valley? If you are in a valley, I probably don't have to encourage you to get on your face before God. If you are on the mountaintop, enjoy! Just remember to keep God close. Just as you enjoy spending time with your loved ones when life is grand, so does your heavenly Father. He's crazy about you!
Until we visit again...