Don’t crawl off the altar.
That was a phrase our youth pastor mentioned in his sermon on Sunday. During the entire service, I finally felt like I am there for a reason, after a long drought period. And the sermon was the culmination. It wasn’t that he said something nice, which made me feel all fuzzy inside. Instead, he talked about the troubles in our lives and how God uses them to shape our character.
If there are no trials, how can we grow?
This is a time of trial for Ukraine.
The political situation is quite dire at the moment, and some say we are on a brink of a civil war. I am hoping and praying it won’t come to that, but I don’t know the future. For more information on what’s going on, you can read this and this article. Suffice to say, my country is in an uprising.
As with most of the conflicts, I tried to avoid it because I simply had no idea what is the right thing to do (besides praying).
On one hand, the first reaction is to go out there, join the multitude of people, and protest against the injustice of our government.
On the other hand, a passage where Paul talks about earthly governments comes to mind.
Anyone who is against the government is really against something God has commanded. Those who are against the government bring punishment on themselves.
Romans 13:2 ERV
I avoid conflicts because I hate answering “I don’t know.” Especially when I am asking myself. I think, that was the original motivation behind reading so many books – I wanted to know all the answers. Oh, if I were Eve, the serpent would be able to sway me even faster than he did her. The knowledge is my strength and my incredible weakness.
So what is a Christian to do in a situation like this?
A situation where you cannot find within yourself enough strength to pray for the men who turned into animals and brutally beat up peaceful demonstrators.
A situation when the government is saying they got rid of people in the main square because “New Year is coming, and it’s important to get the city’s Christmas tree and ice-skating rink installed.” (Seriously, that was their explanation why security guys attacked people.)
I fought with these thoughts for several days. Poor Sam got to bear the brunt of my frustration on Saturday, and that only added to mine – not only I was mad at myself for not knowing the answer, I was somewhat angry with him for feeling passionate about this whole thing and then extremely sorry for being short with him the entire day. It wasn’t the easiest day we had in all the time we’ve been together. I know it won’t be the last, but still.
During the weekend, I felt the need to pray for wisdom about what to do. I was tired of being unsure and wanted to finally have an opinion that was based on His will. And God answered in the form of a sermon.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.
James 1:2-6, MSG
Don’t crawl off the altar.
Paul calls us living sacrifices. When we give ourselves to God – completely, truly – we give Him the power to do what He wills. Well, I guess it would be better to say, we acknowledge His power to do His will. So when we are on this altar of a sacrifice to Him… we should trust Him to do what needs to be done.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
Romans 12:1-2, MSG
I still panic when I am in a crowd, but it felt good to be among 1.7 million of other demonstrators on Sunday at the main square in Kyiv called Maidan Nezalezhnostee (Square of Independence).
And while I don’t cheer for the fact that there are people who were hurt in the process of these demonstrations, I cheer for the fact that we are still alive and care for what is going on in OUR country.
There is a quote from Dune that I often am reminded of at times like this.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear.
Please keep Ukraine in your prayers.
- It is cold right now in Kyiv, and those demonstrators are there 24 / 7. So pray for health and places for people to get warm. Already numerous cafes and restaurants downtown are offering free tea and coffee to protesters as well as places to sit down and get warm.
- Please pray for peace. The main thing about the demonstrations is that they are supposed to be peaceful, and that’s what all the politicians are reminding people of daily. However, there are a lot of provocations from the politicians at power as well as from the “bought protesters” (i.e. people who are paid to protest… yes, there are those too, and it’s not even a secret.)
- Most importantly, pray for a godly leader for Ukraine. It is one thing to get rid of our current president, but what is even more important is to have a leader to replace him who will take proper care of the country and not just want to get all benefits for himself / herself.