Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Happy People in Darkened Places

Happy are the people whose God is the Lord. Psalm 119:15

Oh, how happy indeed. I am pondering afresh the reality of these words, trying to comprehend and imagine an entire culture neither permeated with Godly principles nor established in His ways – a culture predicated upon centuries of not knowing truth - a culture built upon ignorance and deceit – a culture whose every tradition and celebration is founded upon some evil notion woven by the enemy of God, the very Father of lies (for if we are not for Him we are against Him) – a culture whose people have for generation after generation promoted sinful patterns and whose lives are wholly gripped by Satan and all the sorrow and bondage that belong to him.

This is not our culture. We should daily rejoice at the light all around us. Yes, there is gross darkness encroaching upon us, but ours is a culture rich in truth whose traditions are founded upon righteous understanding. Those traditions are being threatened, but as of yet, they are not swallowed up in darkness. They surround us and are seen everywhere, if we look. We can see examples of family as it should be. Honesty is still revered. Self sacrifice is honored. Vestiges of our Judeo Christian heritage are everywhere present.

But in most places it is not so. Satan has ruled entire nations and whole cultures for generations. In these places people have never had a thought that isn’t twisted and perverted by evil. From the earliest hour of learning they have been taught untruth; what they have seen modeled from their first perception is corruption of all that God intended. They have never had an inkling of how it was intended to be, they have never dreamed of proper relationships, and their minds are barren of knowledge of His word – His wonderful, redeeming, healing Word. In their world, it is nowhere present.

Barren. Broken. Hopeless. And even when they hope, it is brought to nothing because their hope is wrongly placed. So despair becomes the portion of even the most daring among them.

I just finished reading The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, a classic novel telling the story of generations, time, and life on this earth – life apart from knowledge of the Word. As I turned the final page I found myself in tears. As I lay in bed last night my eyes filled once again; I lifted my voice in prayer. And this morning my heart continued in heaviness and tears continued to flow and my thoughts were still full of these people – fictional people, I know – but people that represent a vast multitude in reality.

Oh, God - how does one undo centuries and centuries of abject and heinous living? How can such an enduring legacy of absolute deception be exchanged for one of truth? Who will teach them His ways?

When will that broken woman who has been stripped of all value find healing and acceptance? Must she die like her mother and grandmother, never knowing that she is beautifully and wonderfully made, utterly debased through wicked traditions of men? When will that twisted husband who has never experienced true love, but has only learned to manipulate and deceive and misuse in selfishness, know how to love? Will his father heart ever be free to communicate the pleasure he has found in his sons - will he be free to know such pleasure? Will he ever appreciate the woman beside him? What of that proud young son who believes wholeheartedly in age-old lies, thinking they will lead to happiness only to find his heart broken and his hands empty - and what of that beautiful young daughter who faces a lifetime of abuse and hopelessness which will end as all others, in complete despair? Who will bring them truth and real hope? How can they be rescued from the abyss of destruction in this life and for eternity?

Do I have faith to believe that our God, even our God, the God of Love Himself, can affect a change? Do I really believe that in such dire circumstances our God, the God of Hope Himself, can bring hope?

He can. He alone can. And the entrance of His word can bring light and understanding.

Oh, the beautiful light of His word! The joy of walking in understanding!

Have you ever ventured through a black tunnel or cave, or a darkened hallway? What about that instant when the electricity is hindered and all our incandescent bulbs cease to shine? Our eyes instinctively, frantically, search for light – any light – desperate for the aid it lends to our pathway. A simple match set aflame, small as it may be, inspires renewed hope. It fills the entire scope of our view with expectancy and anticipation. We know where to step next; it is as elementary as that. We need to know where and how to walk.

But there are those that have been born into darkness – absolute darkness. There has never even been a faint glimmer of light from any direction around them. None. They have never heard words of light, never seen light infused into someone’s life. Their blindness is such that they have adjusted their expectation accordingly. Some have never even imagined a lighted path – the concept eludes them altogether. They sit right where they are, not venturing on. Others stumble in the darkness, thinking that somehow they will find their way, even in the absence of all light.

Who can imagine what feelings flood the soul of just such a one when suddenly a glimpse of heavenly light touches their world? It is blinding - even if it is as small and simple as a solitary match! They immediately shrink back in pain as light strikes at the blindness. Then some will respond in fear, some in doubt, but many will be drawn, as we are – drawn to the light that shines now upon their pathway and the hope it represents. Oh, that they might know it is the fulfillment of all truth and all things good - that they would comprehend that this light brings healing and release from bondage! That those women who live in pain, those men who have broken lives, and those children who are shackled from the earliest of their days might let that light dispel all darkness in their shadowed lives.

And, oh, that there would be those who would be willing to bring such a light to shine in such places as these. Oh, that it might be so.

Oh, God of all ages, Great and Mighty One who holds all of time and eternity in Your hand, rescue these people! Break through the centuries of bondage and shame, shine Your glorious Light upon their blackened pathway, teach them, as You have graciously taught even me, Your Holy Ways.

And, oh, Merciful King and Redeemer of all flesh, let them also become the happy people whose God is the Lord.

For we are happy people indeed.