This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, 100 Prison Meditations--Cries of Truth from Behind the Iron Curtain (Author: Richard Wurmbrand, founder of Voice Of The Martyrs). In the following short quotation from Pastor Wurmbrand, there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
It is fear that made some Christians around us become Judases.
Revelation 21:8 enumerates eight categories of men who shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone. First on the list are not the unbelievers or murderers as would be expected, but the cowardly.
Fear is so human. Peter feared in Gethsemane. We all do, but it is more abhorred by God than many gross offenses.
A Christian never flies except to the devil's throat. He can say of himself what King Charles of France says in Shakespeare's Henry VI: "Him I forgive my death that kills me when he sees me go back one foot or fly. My army, rather with their teeth the walls they'll tear down than forsake the siege."
We are Jesus' sheep. Sheep do not run from the wolf. They cannot defend themselves, but they witness for their Creator by enduring their deaths patiently, without turning their backs to the enemy.
Children of God can be burned at the stake, but they cannot be made to give in. We are assigned to be the scourge of demons.
When Henry VI said, "Of all base passions, fear is the most accursed," he expressed a biblical thought.
A moment of introspection: In a recent devotional entitled "Boldness Required--Enquire Within", the gist of my reflection presented the need, in these days, to be bold for our Lord. Pastor Wurmbrand elaborates on this thought, through speaking of boldness' opposite: fear. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt declaimed during his first inaugural speech, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself", we Christians likewise have not been taught to fear our mortal enemy. Rather, our guide for life instructs us to "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." (James 4:7) To this, Pastor Wurmbrand repeats, "A Christian never flies except to the devil's throat." In our personal lives, let us not flee, but find victory over fear through our developing confidence in Christ.
Satan would have us cower, to respond to these days of turmoil and trouble through fear and cowardice--to consider becoming Judases. But we are not given a spirit of fear by our Maker, and we have examples of boldness in faith--in the Holy Scriptures. In Ephesians 6:10-20, we are told to don the armor that will protect us against the wiles of the devil, "For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places..." This behest is repeated in 1 Thessalonians 5:8, and in both passages, we are provided with the defensive and even offensive tools with which to deal with any externally-evoked fear or anxiety. These are effective tools in our battle within this mortal plane. There is a good resource for understanding these implements; if you can locate a book entitled Spiritual Warfare (by Ray C. Stedman, ISBN 0-87680-431-8, Copyright 1946 [renewed 1973 by Word Books]), this resource explains the battle we are engaged in, with the heavenlies--and shows how the parts of the armor we put on serve to protect us and to gird us for the boldness of battle. In this life, we will have trials and tribulations--but these are not meant to induce fear, but to temper us--to bring us beyond acting the role of Much-Afraid (in Hinds Feet on High Places). According to 1 John 4, "...we know and rely on the love God has for us" (vs. 16), and we are empowered. Again, from Hinds Feet on High Places, and the continued saga of Much-Afraid: "Next moment the Shepherd was standing beside her. 'Be of good cheer,' he said, 'it is I, be not afraid.'" We are the sheep of the Good Shepherd, and sheep do not run from the wolf.