Friday, December 21, 2018 -
The reality of me being here for Christmas is sinking in, but I am at the moment not stressed about that. God will sustain me. I’m certain it will be harder for Kathie and our children.
It’s about 11:30am, and I just finished reading Job 31. Job here provides an excellent list for us to examine oneself:
1) Have you made a covenant with your eyes not to gaze at a woman with lust (v. 1)? This is more relevant today than ever!
2) Has your life been one of falsehood and deceit, or one of integrity (v. 5-8)? In other words, have you always chosen the right path, being honest in all your dealings and relationships? Or has your “heart followed your eyes?”
3) Has your heart been enticed by another besides your spouse (v. 9-12)? Note: Job uses the term “lurking” at his neighbor’s doorstep.
4) Have you listened to the grievances of those who work for you, or despised them when coming to you with their complaints (v. 13-15)?
5) Have you ignored the plight of the widows, orphans, naked, cold, or hungry without trying to alleviate their suffering (v. 16-23)?
6) Have you cursed your enemy, or rejoiced at their demise (v. 29-30)? This is no doubt a difficult one.
7) Are those who live with you satisfied with the sustenance (meat) you’ve provided to them (v. 31)?
8) Have you opened your door to strangers and travelers (v. 32-33)?
9) Have you, because of the fear of what others may say or think, refused to confess your sins one to another (v. 33-34)?
10) Have you been fair and equitable in your dealings (v. 38-40)? There’s a lot to think about and contemplate here.
Job provides an excellent self-evaluation guide, particularly for those in wealthy lands like here in America, where we have the vast majority of the world’s possessions and are fabulously wealthy compared to the rest of the world.
A little after noon, we received our “Christmas bags,” containing 22 snack bags of cookies, chips, etc. It was a much anticipated event for my “celly” and most of the others here, most complaining the bags get smaller and smaller each year. Immediately the trading began. I opted to keep what I got.
Just a little bit later, “S” came into my cell saying he had already read about a third of “A Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life,” and was very enthused about it. He said she is such a good writer, and just the style he likes, and how different it is than other Christian books he’s read. He read the one part to that struck him the most, that we cannot rely on our feeling when it comes to a consecrated like, which, in his young Christian life, he’s struggled with the most. He said God has this book for him for just this moment. I said, “That’s what I thought.” He indicated struggling to know what God’s will is for the next step in his life, and I told/showed him there’s a whole chapter on figuring out God’s will when it comes to making decisions.
Later this afternoon, I read the story in World Magazine about Huang Yam, who was tortured and imprisoned by the Chinese government for speaking out internationally about the government’s persecution of Chinese Christians. Her torture and the torture of those documented was severe, and nearly cost her her life. She said, “If you do evil (in China), the government reveres you; if you do good, it suppresses and persecutes you.” Her story makes me thankful that at least I’m not being beaten and tortured, albeit I am in prison for being convicted of doing good – heeding Scripture by rescuing a child from being sexually abused. I read the article, I must confess, in a rather judgmental way, particularly after I read this statement from Huang, “If God lets him (Xi Jinxing) get away with it, I don’t think I can believe in this God anymore.” And Huang made things worse for herself by constantly yelling at the guards while shackled, calling them scoundrels and wolves for detaining an innocent woman. I realize my persecution doesn’t compare with what she went through and the guards where I am don’t beat me, and I hate being judgmental, but I believe God in Scripture commands a different reaction to our enemies and persecutors. I believe God has shown me to love them in return, be kind to them, yet, as did Huang, refuse to compromise my principles. And for no reason, even if it means my death, must I ever deny Christ.
I pray I will never be faced with that decision, and if I’m ever in the position as was Huang, that God would give me the love for my enemies and the demeanor of Christ when He faced the cross – because of my sin.
Anyway, the article disturbed me by what is happening to believers in China, but also encouraged me that it could be much, much worse for me (and for that I’m thankful). It also challenged me to remain faithful even in my attitudes and demeanor for my enemies, and for the government that falsely and wrongly imprisoned me. Yet, by the grace of God, I would not break.