August 19, 2021
My dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,
I know I am far from you, worlds away in a place where being called a “Christian” still lingers in parts of the country as a compliment. I know that for you, this title is a death sentence. I know that the word “execution,” which to me sounds foreign and distant, has sharp edges that draw your blood. I feel helpless, sorrowful, and angry. But I know I’m not helpless, because God has always helped his church through the prayers of his people. So, this is a letter of prayer. This is a letter of comfort. This is a letter of hope. God help me.
James said something that’s always stuck with me, a question that ushers my life forward like a father softly pushing the back of his child. “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). It doesn’t sound so hopeful, does it? But look closer. The answer to his question has two parts.
What Is Your Life?
The first part is apparent. Your life probably feels like a mist right now: frail and fleeting, disappearing with every threat of evil men under Satan’s grip. You move at the slightest breeze, changing shape, ever searching for a place to rest. That’s how I would feel. Watching the lives of loved ones evaporate before you only confirms the terrorizing truth that we are a mist. We want to be stones or trees or mountains: things hard to move. But we’re not. Some of us just have the luxury of believing that we are, whereas others don’t. In the end, we’ll all see that we’re mist, passing so quickly through a world of color and sound and shape.
But there’s a second part. Your life might appear to be a mist, but it’s actually, by faith in Jesus Christ and the dead-raising power of the Holy Spirit, invincible. If the Spirit of the living God has made his home in you by your faith in Jesus, then hear this. You. Have. No. End. Keep reading those words. Chant them if it helps. I’m chanting them for you right now. You have no end. You’re invincible. As the great hymn puts it,
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever.
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
Forever. That’s in you. Right now. Forever is in you. Forever is in me. Forever is in every saint that calls Jesus Christ “Lord.”
If our life is a mist, a simple breath, then it’s also filled with the breath of God’s own Spirit (Gen. 2:7). And that breath cannot be taken. That breath keeps going. It’s been heaving from eternity, and it’s never going to stop. That breath is in you. You are an eternal mist.
What I Ask
Still, that doesn’t mean I’m not on my knees for you right now, begging that God would strike fear into the hearts of your enemies, that he would tear them down, that he would, in his mysterious grace, not only stop them, but convert them to himself. For our God, I’m reminded, love is primary. For the false god of your enemies, power is primary. But love has already conquered all. There’s no hope for the power of force. That power was crucified on a tree two thousand years ago. The nails went all the way through it. It died. And it’s never going to rise again. Only Love rose again, only Jesus. And in him you will, too. And so will I. Love has won.
I ask also for courage, confidence, faith, and hope. These simple words are kicked about as if they were fallen autumn leaves, worthy of nothing but the soles of our feet. But they are so much more. They are mountains. They are colossal. They offer strength through life and light. I pray that you may stand on them, and see far into the glorious country that awaits all of us. God’s country . . .
I pray that the truth we confess together might resound through you. That your life may be an utterance of “Jesus Christ.” That your daily turmoil would serve as soil in your sleep, giving the ground of your life what it needs to sprout white flowers of hope. I pray that in and through you, the whole world might witness the fierce and fragrant power of sacrifice in the Spirit of the Son of God, who gave all of himself so that we might possess all in him. May your beating heart at this very moment beat with his. May mine as well.
I love you dearly, though I’ve never met you. Such is the mystery of God’s church, a family bound in the blood of another. It’s in his blood that I pray for your own. I leave you with these final words. Until we meet again.
God of pity, peace, and love, the church you love is bleeding.
We are a weak bunch of souls, in need of daily feeding.
When the earthly bread is gone, and nothing is before us,
We ask for pity, peace, and love with one eternal chorus.
We see our end so starkly, barely yet convincible
That we have eternal life; now we are invincible.
Give us the light bread of hope, from hands far too great to see.
Grant us a holy vision of blinding, bright eternity.