He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.
”But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
I’ve had more pleasant experiences in my sleep than the one I am about to share. It felt that no sooner had I closed my eyes, that I re-opened them to see a very unique scenery.
It was nighttime in a remote and quiet countryside. I understood to be somewhere in eastern Europe. I was crouching atop the splintery criss-crossed, rough hewn rafters of an old abandoned barn. Inside, a wrath-filled mob spoke only the silent language of fist and foot while they were systematically forcing a dozen bound Christians to climb to the top of the rafters via a rickety wooden ladder. Unseen by those around me, I bore silent witness, as they were being strung up with rope around their necks and one by one, kicked off the rafters.
An angel appeared next to me, watching the event as it unfolded. I began to sob the way I do when I see our family being martyred. Suddenly, all the rafter tops of this lantern-lit barn were filled with other angelic witnesses and I wondered why none of them moved. Looking down to the structure floor, I saw the night was well under way.
Our brothers and sisters made no attempt to escape. Their countenance was a mixture of tremendous grief equalled only by love. They kissed and touched head to head whenever proximity allowed for it before being punched or clubbed. The feelings they held for one another are beyond my ability to write. So was the love they had for their captors. Tears streamed down silent faces. No one said a word. As one particular young man was pushed to the edge of a rafter beam I reached out my unseen hand to touch his cheek.
I felt the Holy Spirit connect us. I knew his story. He knew mine. In my mind’s eye, I saw the events that led to this dark night and shared the emotions he managed for the family being left behind. A deep, quiet joy, mixed with depthless sorrow mingled between our hearts. I had never felt so much love for a person as in that moment. I was one with this fellowship… and yet eternally apart. Counted among this company, yet unworthy of the honor they shared amongst each other. I wanted to die with them.
“Peace,” was all I could utter, and I felt the love of God flow out from my hand. At this, the angel to my left turned his head toward us, and silently gave a half-nod.
The man looked up at me; directly into my eyes and in that moment I knew he could see me. His mouth turned every so slightly upward at the corners, and the most restful, peace-filled gaze I have ever seen from another person flooded me with such raw, untainted nature of Father-God that I wept uncontrollably, yet resolved to never break our mutual stare.
“Thank you,” he whispered. “See you soon.” With that, he was violently kicked in the side and fell some 15 feet short of the barn floor; the rope snapping taut.
“Daddy… does your head hurt?” My 7 year old, Daniel was beside my bed, and it took me a moment to realize I had been crying in my sleep… again.
“I made you coffee. Mommy said breakfast is ready. Will you play with me?”
As I write this, I feel the back of my neck begin to tighten and my desire to share is waning. I need to pray; to ask my Savior where He must touch my being and transform my heart. What else stands in the way of being more of… Him.
Soulish writing? An emotionally darkened blog post that pricks only at our fallen nature and not our spirit-man?
Only you can perceive that for yourself. But… how do we feel when we study about the Roman art of scourging? What do we feel when we read of the prophets being sawed in half, of Paul being stoned or Stephen being murdered? These brothers and sisters died for something much more than living for oneself. They died for you. They died for the love of the good news.
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:7-8
How do I really feel when my neighbor suddenly passes on without Christ? Now, the question I must ask is, why is my response such-and-such? Where is my soul in relation to the Spirit of God living powerfully within my spirit-being?
I close my eyes for a moment as I type. I see the man from my dream, now part of that great cloud of witnesses, encouraging me. He gestures with a sweeping arc of his arm, like the man from Macedonia did to Paul. He beckons. So little to ask of me…
He has the eyes of his Father. No condemnation. No shame. No disappointment. Only love. A love that burns and compels. He bids me take my place at the seat of my Savior’s heart. Beyond all cliches and catchy church billboard signs, he silently encourages me to “let go and let God.” So much to ask of me… Perhaps I won’t. Then again…
Perhaps I will…
All my love, brethren.