“Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.”
–Hebrews 13:3 (NLT)
Have you ever asked yourself which things define your life? If not, you should try it. It is very revealing, in both positive and negative ways.
Many times, we allow pleasure or pain to act as the master architects of our souls, and we are shaped by our circumstances. We often forget, however, that God must remain our first priority, and that we should be shaped by Him. In other words, we need to see the Creator of the universe not only as the Master craftsman, but as the one who first drew up the original blueprint.
The problem is only accentuated, however, when we don’t look behind our circumstances to see God’s hand. Just as clouds can prevent clear visibility, God’s workings are often hazy to us because of the obstructions which overwhelm us. When this is the case, we usually make mountains out of molehills, instead of going to the one who can remove them altogether.
By using the following stories, I would like to tell you how God became a priority in my life. I’d also like to draw some word pictures for you of the important changes God has brought about in my experience.
My stone age was cold, and I was angry. You see, I was following my human nature, and doing everything I said not to do above. I had allowed myself to be shaped by my circumstances. Since I was blind and therefore had a disadvantage, I wanted to prove myself to the world, and I nursed my own sense of bitterness.
But when God became number one in my life, all of that began to change. When I surrendered to Him, I felt a tremendous weight fall from my shoulders–the weight of having to be somebody else. In other words, I found out that the walls inside me, and not those in front of me, were the ones that held me down most often. The darkness that had previously ruled my life lifted when the light of the world came into my heart.
Now I am not trying to pretend that life is all roses and no thorns, because living in this world is a challenge for each of us. But because of God’s grace, the door to freedom began to open a crack.
This leads me to the second and final change I’d like to discuss with you today. As my new life in Christ continued, some friends of mine got together to create an unforgettable moment in my life.
I am a Braille reader, and I didn’t have an entire accessible Bible. Because of my friends’ love for me, I received one as a gift.
I began to learn how fortunate I was, as most persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ don’t have one in Braille. A Bible in their own language is unheard of by the average Joe, let alone those Christians who have been blinded for their faith.
In a nation where God’s Word has been taken so much for granted, I pray that God will continue to use the love of my new friends to wake up America. I pray that He would multiply this love as He did long ago, when He multiplied the loaves and the fish.
Like those early disciples on that hillside, you and I get to pass bread out today. But this is not merely physical bread–it is the bread of life.
Persecution is increasing at an alarming rate throughout the world. According to Open Doors USA, over 360 million Christians live in places where they will experience high levels of persecution. In other words, 1 in 7 Christians throughout the world will suffer persecution.
Therefore, I would like to issue a call to support our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world. The door will only swing open wider as you walk through it with me.
Here are some steps you can take to make the suffering of these Christians more real. Read and listen to what fellow Christians are being put through. Two great true stories which are available on Audible.com are God Smuggler by Brother Andrew, and Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand. Other things you might consider include listening to podcasts like Voice of the Martyrs, and writing letters to persecuted Christians.
As you continue to take your first steps, I encourage you to become involved more and more in the battle of love. Create a prayer chain with me as we lift up our brothers and sisters who need our strength to stand.
Finally, I would like to leave you with these two principles which Jesus elaborates on in scripture. They are bearing fruit, and remaining in Jesus–the true vine.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 313-209-8800. Our PIN is 8699032. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.