ADVENT – DAY 8
A few years ago, to celebrate the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church a Bible Study leader on our local military base arranged for a military personnel to barge into our study, unannounced, and demand all of our Bibles be confiscated. For me, the most frightening part was the thought of losing my Bible, and so I quietly hid it under the table while many in the room handed theirs over. In that moment, unaware that we were a part of a charade, I would rather have risked myself than lose my precious book. Later everyone’s Bibles were returned, but all in the room became palpably aware, for some in the world that very day, the outcome wouldn’t be so simple and painless.
During WWII, a Dutch watchmaker and his daughters risked their lives to save Jewish people. They were eventually caught and sentenced to a concentration camp for their “crimes”. Corrie ten Boom, one of the watchmaker’s daughters, was the only one in her immediate family to survive the concentration camp. She tells their story in “The Hiding Place”, an amazing book of heroism and faith. She and her sister had decided long before they were caught, that should something happen, Corrie would carry her Bible in a small bag hung around her neck. Even through the forced strip searches these two sisters endured while in the camps, the small bag around Corrie’s neck went undetected. It was truly a miracle. But, had she been caught carrying such contraband, it would have cost her life, and tortuously so.
I have heard stories of prison guards ripping up Bibles in Communist countries for the purpose of using the pages as toilet paper. God orchestrating a prisoner in need of their precious words to find them while cleaning out the fowl stench. Treating those stinking pages as pure gold, they would clean them up, sharing them secretly with other prisoners. Each risking their lives to read even a small portion of this precious book – with the same zeal a starving person would cherish even the moldiest of food to satiate ravenous hunger.
Why? What is so important about this one book, that there would be such a response? Many a philosopher, religious zealot, and many a prophet have written books that have so captured the hearts and minds of millions they have willingly gone to their deaths, but there is no book like this one. The Apostle Peter said it well in John 6:66-68. Jesus had just finished teaching a crowd, his words greatly offending many of those who had up until that point followed him.
66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. 67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”
68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (italics mine)
This book gives life to those drowning in shame and guilt, and hope to those who have lost all hope of change. It gives light to those in darkness, and breath to those whose pain has taken their breath away. How? This book offers the very life of its author to any who would embrace its words.
If you’ve found this book boring or hard to understand, I offer you a challenge. I’ve linked the book of John where the above passage came from. It is in story format, and in a modern language, and so is easy to read.
Read one chapter daily (it will only take a few short moments). Begin by asking Jesus, the author, to show you who he is in the words you read. Do this every day until the book is finished. After you have finished, I would love for you to email me, letting me know what you discovered. I guarantee it will change you one way or another, because Jesus does that.
Lord, right now I pray for anyone who has read these words and is willing to take this challenge. Open your word to them, and show them the truth of who you are. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
With love and prayers,
p.s. You may also be interested in reading: “Reading the Manufacturers Instructions”