Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Could I stand, would I stand, if persecution came my way?

(photo courtesy of Red Letter Believers)

I sat on the hard wooden pew, my legs too short for my feet to touch the floor in their white ankle socks and black patent leather shoes.  My hair was a halo of blonde curls from the pincurls Mama had put in my hair the night before after my Saturday evening bath.  The dress Mama had sewn for me to wear to church was too fussy and itchy for my liking, so I kept wiggling my shoulders against the back of the pew, trying to scratch the itch caused by the irritating lace.  In my hands I clutched a little Gideon New Testament that I must have been given by an older sibling, since I was too young to even read.

Suddenly, the back door of the little sanctuary swung open and in marched armed military men in full uniform.  They went from pew to pew demanding that we all relinquish our Bibles.  I was sitting right next to the center aisle.  When one of the men got to me and gruffly demanded my Bible, I looked up at him, took my Bible, and sat on it, refusing to relinquish it.

I've never been persecuted for the cause of Christ, not really, not in comparison to the Ethiopian martyrs killed in Libya last week, not in comparison to a friend who was imprisoned for his faith when he lived in eastern Europe under communism, not in comparison to someone who's been fired from their job, or not hired at all, because of their faith or moral stance.  But the story above about me is true.  Evidently the fear of communism and the cold war spurred this illustrated sermon in the little church up the street from the house I grew up in.  No one told me that the whole thing wasn't real.  All I knew was two things, I loved Jesus, and that little Bible was precious.  Of course, I didn't know how to read it, so I hadn't fallen in love with the actual words yet.  My knowledge of its contents was limited to flannelgraph stories I'd heard in Sunday School.  All I knew was that the Bible was treated with a special reverence in our house.  You didn't set the Bible on the floor, you didn't set other books or items on top of the Bible.  The Bible was holy and you were expected to treat it as such.  Somehow, on that long ago Sunday morning,  I also had a fundamental knowledge not to deny Jesus.  Had my parents taught me this?  Was the message ingrained in me from the songs we sang back in the day, songs with words like, "Stand up! Stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the Cross!"  Was it the Holy Spirit living in me that gave me that kind of courage?  Most likely it was a combination of all of the above.  All I know is that it was totally against the nature of that shy, overly sensitive little girl to stand up to someone older, bigger and stronger than her.

When I think now about the spreading persecution of Christians around the world, I wonder if I could, if I would, stand true and refuse to deny Jesus no matter what.  Remembering that little girl gives me hope, gives me courage, that if and when that time comes, by God's grace I will.

still following,
  


Darling Downs Diaries

USE this for BLOG


at 3-D Lessons for Life

and sharing my story at The High Calling

35 comments:

  1. I think a lot of us are asking this question, could I? would I? and i like your ending, by God's grace we will! Sobering but necessary questions to ask!

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    1. Janet, I know God gives us His strength, courage and grace when we need it.

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  2. I have similar childhood memories. My father also read Little Pilgrim's Progress (a child's version of P.P.) to us - maybe a couple of times. I think hardships Little Pilgrim and Faithful faced helped me know the "going" may not always be easy. .Like you, I wonder if and pray that when/if faced with a decision to die or deny, I will die with grace!

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    1. My first remembrance of Pilgirm's Progress was the Sunday School superintendent reading it aloud to us, bit by bit, each week when I was in grade school. I've since read it to my own children and used it as a weekly devotional to the children in our church's outreach to kids.

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    1. I'm sure it is by His grace alone that there is courage to stand strong.

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  4. Maybe this is why Jesus told us that we are to become like children. Thanks for sharing and God bless your ministry!

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  5. Oh wow. I think I would have had a heart attack. I nearly had a heart attack reading it. That's a pretty vivid illustration.

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    1. I know, right? Can you imagine trying to do something like that in this day and age?

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  6. Hi Elizabeth,
    I think most christian in America are asking themselves that question these days, but all I can think about is God says He will never leave us or forsake us,
    and since He lives in us, I think He will make sure we stand up..........His grace is never a minute too late or too early. I think about so many christians that we have heard about that were killed for their faith, like Stephen and how is looked up into heaven and said father forgive them they know not what they do.....only the spirit could do that, and how about Joan of Arc going to her
    death singing as she burned at the stake.........and I recently read somewhere that all those christian that were beheaded on the beach died singing songs
    about Jesus.........that kind of courage can only be the spirit of God.
    Honestly, just like a Pastor named J Vernon McGee once said, to think
    about dying for Christ sends a chill up my spine.......and it certainly does
    mine or any christian, but he went on to say I think he wants us to be more
    concerned with living for Him than dying for Him. I think the best prayer we
    can utter every day is Lord help us keep our eyes on you and Lord please
    keep our hearts from fear, and give us boldness like the early disciples.
    It is just so sad and heart breaking to see what our brothers and sisters
    in Christ are having to go thru, it is such a grievous and scary thing to hear about and watch, and it can really wear on our spirits, and one thing has
    helped.....recently I have seen several devotionals about what we have to
    look forward to in heaven.........guess we all need to get a more heavenly
    perspective as we might not be here much longer anyway, if the Lord
    should come............Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!

    and loved your story about when you were a child, the spirit had you stand
    up then, he will have you stand up later if need be...........

    Blessings sweet friend,
    Nellie

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    1. I like your quote from J Vernon McGee. I used to listen to him on the radio!

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  7. Wow. What a sermon. What a story. What a lesson. Thank you. You may not have known the words in your head, but you knew them in your heart...the place where the Author dwells, where there is no fear.

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    1. Thank you, Doug! I appreciate you stopping by my blog.

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  8. Very convicting. I love the Lord and His words. May we always be found faithful...and willing to take a stand no matter the cost.

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    1. Julia, I am saying AMEN to your comment.

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  9. I agree with Sandra - wow! I've asked myself the same question. But I remember seeing in movies how Peter felt after denying Jesus and I am praying that I wouldn't do that.

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    1. Jen, a stunt like that could never be done today, but my memories of it aren't one of fear. It actually gave me confidence that when I need it, God's strength, courage and grace will be there for me.

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  10. God sat with you in that pew and He was the strength and assured sense that was needed to do what you did...shy or not. God is not shy and He took the reins. Praising Him and praying for those many persecuted Christians around the world. We are blessed here in the USA but also must remember that those we see lined up there could be us.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

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    1. Linda, We are definitely blessed here in the US, but I fear that things are looking grim regarding what we could face in the future.

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  11. Hi Elizabeth! That is a memory that would NEVER pass away from my mind. Yikes! I'm surprised you weren't scared to death. I would be!
    I often thank God that I was born in the USA. I don't think I'd be strong enough to stand up to a gun in my face. Of course, I don't know what kind of grace would be given me in that situation, but it had better be a lot, because I know I am a chicken at heart. Only with Him would I have a chance at standing up and staying with Him.
    What a story...
    Ceil

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    1. Ceil, that's the weird thing, there is no fear associated with this memory, just a strange peace and comfort in knowing that courage from God is there when needed.

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  12. I wonder too, Elizabeth... What would I do if faced with the challenges they're faced with? I can seem so wimpy with even some of the small things God calls me to do.... I pray God would give us the courage to honor him at any cost if ever faced with that catastrophe, and with every thing in between.

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  13. Elizabeth,
    I wonder, too and have been for a while...I have to keep praying for grace in the daily and trusting God will give me the courage to do what I need to in that moment, just like He did for you as a little girl.

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    1. I believe that's true, Dolly. God will give us courage and strength when we need it.

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  14. Wow, what an awesome story. I pray that I would have your childlike faith as when you were a little girl faced with fear of persecution. I pray that God would give me His strength to stand up for Him as my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at all cost.

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  15. As missionaries in a third world country we were given training to help us know how to act and react in case of times just as wrote about. For sure there was a couple of times that training paid off. but what paid off the most was trusting Him for the courage to stand when fear moves in our hearts. Courage to act when filled with fear...God can do that, He has done that for me more then once. Bless you for sharing this sweet story of trust.

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    1. Betty, trusting Him for the courage, yes! He did it for me all those years ago, and I trust Him still.

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  16. I've asked myself the same question. I think of Paul's words: 'I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength'. Jesus didn't deny us and I pray for courage, if that time comes, that I won't deny Him.
    ~Adrienne~

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  17. Oh Elizabeth what a wonderful post, thank you so much for sharing at Good Morning Mondays. I have heard stories of missionaries and their children being killed because they wouldn't deny God and I have always wondered how we would react if the same thing happened to us. I pray that God will give us the courage to stand firm in our faith. Blessings

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  18. Elizabeth. Thank you for writing about this. The church needs to stand with those who are suffering for their faith and your post does exactly that. it also asks some hard questions about our own faith and committment. THank you for participating in our Community Call at the HIgh Calling.

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