Last week while life plunged forward–the podcast, work, sports, ice and late-starts to school. All the while, my heart lay heavy with Christians around the world over the 21. I have to confess, though, that I only read the headlines and stepped into a few related posts like Ann Voskamp’s. And then I read Michele’s post. In it, she shares what the Lord said to her after asking Him what He thought of the beheadings and other blatant sin.
Where have you been? I looked for ones who would stand in the gap. While I searched, you slept. While you slept, I wept as they cried.
My people, why have you slept so soundly, and remained deaf to the cries?
I know my Shepherd’s voice and it was there in those words. I was convicted for my slumbered state.
I printed out the post and I committed to begin this awakening process. I read the post over and over and began to pray to see what it would look like.
The first call I felt was to see.
I had purposely avoided the details. Never looked past the headlines, unwilling to step into that world. I wanted safe and clean and not dirty and evil.
The words from Seth Godin I heard all those years ago from Catalyst still echo in my mind. We need more people that aren’t afraid of emotional labor. Galatians says it’s like this: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” I was unwilling to bear the burden of their pain.
And so, I began clicking through and searching out. What was really going on? And then, of course, the emotions began.
What atrocities. What evil. How could this be happening?
And the thing was, it wasn’t just to them, it was personal. As someone who identifies as part of the People of the Cross, it was really personal.
And so, of course, my next question after I began to see is what do I do? What can I, a suburban mom in South Carolina who identifies as a person of the cross, do?
And then the words from a marriage conference of all things came to mind–when someone wrongs you, you must not just forgive, but bless that person. That is the way to true freedom.
Luke 6 says it like this:
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
And I wondered what it looked like to bless someone who beheaded your brothers in Christ. What could I possibly bless them with? Was I blessing the evil acts they were clearly a part of?
Then I thought the only thing they could possibly be blessed by was Jesus. Jesus is the only thing that would have the power to transform an evil like that. You can’t self-care your way out of that lifestyle. You have to be transformed. 2 Corinthians tells us it’s not just possible, it’s what Jesus is all about:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
And so, that’s what I want them blessed with. Jesus.
And then I clicked through another headline and listened to the response of a mother of one of the beheaded. And she already knows the truth. She says
I will ask God to open their eyes and ask him in our house because he helped us enter the Kingdom of God! Dear, with this good spirit, I ask you to pray for the ISIS members. Dear God, please open their eyes to be saved and to quit their ignorance. and the wrong teachings they were taught.
My flesh wants justice. My flesh wants them punished. And yet, the Spirit in me wants them redeemed. The mother of one of these wants them redeemed. This is the true way to stop this violence. They need an encounter with the Savior.
And then I ran into an article from John Piper, and he addresses this very thing and not only does he agree with a blessing, he gave me words to do so. Words and prayers I didn’t really know how to form. They are in the form of the Lords’ prayer:
- Father, grant that my enemy — my colleague who snubs me, my wife who belittles me, my child who disrespects me, the ISIS member who wants to kill me — grant that they would come to hallow your name. Grant that they would treasure you above all, and reverence you, and admire you more than anything.
- Father, grant that my enemy would come under the saving, purifying sway of your kingly rule and that you would exert your kingly power to make my enemy your own loyal subject.
- Grant, Father, that my enemy would love to do your will the way the angels do it in heaven with all their might, and without reservation, and with the purest motives, and with great joy.
- Grant, Father, that my enemy would have all the physical resources of food and clothing and shelter and education and health-care and transportation that he needs to fulfill your calling on his life.
- And forgive my enemy his sins, as you bring him to repentance, and make him a forgiving person, and protect him from overpowering temptations, and from the destructive power of the devil.
Salvation, forgiveness, love, resources, protection from temptations. It is the blessing I was looking for.
I heard someone say it and I agree–I’m also praying for a Saul to be raised up. A man that is persecuting the church who encounters a great light and is transformed into a Paul. A man who can help transform his people for the sake of the gospel.
And so, I am seeing and I am praying. And I want you alongside me doing the same.
Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:19-20