When I was young, something horrible happened to me. I was far from home with no way of contacting anyone. In the months proceeding I had found that the Lord's promise of 'those who seek Him will find Him' to be true. I had called to the Lord to fill my heart longings, to guide me and be real in my life. His love had overcome my homesickness and struggles. Suddenly, in the wake of cruelty and abuse, had he left me?
That next morning, I disappeared out into the woods. I called to the Lord in anguish and He was there. In the presence of the Lord, I found comfort, a washing of my innermost thoughts and emotions, and healing. I silently forgave the perpetrators. I did not understand then, the power of that act of forgiveness, but I do now.
When Jesus said from the cross, "Forgive them for they know not what they do" death had already begun to lose its power. Jesus' example spoke the words of freedom into the depth of my being and I embraced his way, instead of becoming a victim and allowing hatred to wreck havoc in me. The sins of those who hurt me would not shape my life, my Savior had already redeemed me through the greatest act of selflessness, man will ever know. My freedom could not be taken away by any human act of violence.
Because of that experience, Jesus' cloak of love not only restored me, but it also covered me in the full measure of grace (God's definition with no strings attached). I learned that it is possible to love the sinner while hating the sin. I understood that condemnation had no place in my life and that God can heal truly any earthly sorrow. Most importantly, I learned that forgiveness empowers us to love radically with the love of Christ in this dark world. And in that freedom, joy everlasting, abounds.
Beloveds, I tell you this story, because of the evil we face on the frontline. We are tempted to fear in the wake of persecution, revenge and death. The brazen violence throughout our world appears to be insurmountable. In Revelation 11, we are told that when the "witnesses" had completed their testimony, the Beast made war on them, conquered them and killed them. But after three and a half days the breath of Life from God entered them. We know the outcome and who the overcomer is!
In the end death will not prevail, but while earth endures, Jesus' love can and does change lives! As we walk in surrender to the truth of God's Word, we shall not fear. Perfect love casts fear out! The remnant is strong and God is good. This we prove in the way we live, trust and bless. That which is filtered through God's hands, he can turn to good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. Love is stronger than anything else! Jesus Christ is the fuel and the freedom through which we are empowered and under which evil will someday be extinguished. Until that day, we rise up as a community who does not submit to fear, but walks in courage and battles evil with good. He loves unconditionally and so can we.