I heard a story this Sunday morning, told by Bro. Andy Lovell. I’m not sure where it originated, but it went something like this…
A village was being pillaged and persecuted by a group of terrorists. There was a Christian family who would not deny their faith. The terrorists forced the family to dig a trench. Once they completed the digging they told the entire family to get in the trench. If they did not deny their faith, they would be buried alive in the grave they dug themselves.
With strong resolve, all four of them stepped down into the trench and the terrorists began pushing the dirt back in around them. The father was strong until he looked over and saw the dirt had reached his son’s chin. He cried out,
“Stop! Stop! This is not right. My wife and I are prepared to die for our faith. We are ready. But, please. Please let my son and daughter go. Please let them live.”
Just as he finished his plea, his son looked up at his dad and just began singing an old hymn. (The name of the song has been lost as the story has been told over time. And, as Bro. Lovell said, it would be a shame to assume what it was. So I’ll just say that it was a song about Jesus and His love for us. As you imagine the story, you insert your favorite song.)
After the son began to sing, the daughter joined in. As the dirt continued to rise over their heads, the whole family just sang to Jesus….their Savior who they were about to see face to face. Everyone who was there watched as this entire family faced death, together, and in total unity. The world watched as Jesus comforted them in their greatest time of need and they entered heaven together as a family…rejoicing in their salvation.
One of the terrorists who helped bury the family was haunted by the song they sung. For years he could not escape the sound of those children singing with their parents, and the thought of them facing death with such peace. He played it over and over in his mind, until one day, he walked into a church and gave his life to Jesus. The death of this family resulted in life for this man, and probably many others.
As I listened to this story, all I could see was my family. I could literally see us. Standing there in the trench. Nasty, ugly, mean terrorists all around us yelling at us and throwing dirt on us. I could see how Clay and I were strong. We are grown ups. We are ready. We are mature in our faith. We are able to see that God is made strong in our suffering and that He is using this trial to bring people to Himself. And, we are spiritually mature enough to surrender to His will.
But, I could just see Clay looking over at our kids. When the dirt got to Ben’s chin, I could see him yelling,
“STOP!!!! Take us, but let our children go. Please.”
What father or mother wouldn’t do this? I have stood before the Lord many times since May 2 and pleaded for my children. I have yelled at the devil and all his stupid demons and reminded them that they can NOT have my children. They might cover our heads up with dirt, and take the breath from our bodies, but they will NOT take our souls from Jesus.
I have this overwhelming desire to see someone come and pull my kids out of the pit and take them to safety. I’ll gladly stay here with Clay, but please let my children go. Let them live. Let them never face trials and trenches. Let them have joy and happiness. Let them have abundant blessings.
But, I can’t make that happen. I can’t protect them from some things. I can’t promise them a life with no trench. I can’t take away the pain they feel or the hurt they may still face.
The only thing I can do is teach them the song.
They have to know that song. The song is what will get them through. The song is what will give them the resolve to stand at peace while their head is covered with dirt.
You know….the song in their heart that reminds them that Jesus loves them. That He is a Savior. That He is a healer. That He has built us a home in heaven that is waiting for us. The song in their heart that tells them that He is a good Father. He is a loving God that makes all things work together for good. A song that proves He gives peace that passes all understanding. A song that causes their heart to praise God, no matter the circumstance.
Here is what David said,
“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be astounded. They will put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:2-3
You see, God GIVES the song. I can teach them the words, the principals, the truths, the scriptures, but God has to give them the song. He is the one who writes it on their heart. He is the one who puts it in their spirit. He is the one who proves it to them and gives them life through the song.
And, y’all, let’s be honest. How many people, especially children, learn deep truths and important lessons just from hearing about other peoples’ experiences? Not very many. We learn by experience. We learn through difficulty and hardship. Look back at the scripture. God didn’t give David the song, until after He lifted him out of the pit. Going into the pit, gives God a chance to teach us more about Him, and then He gives us a song.
So, I had to realize that, while I want to rescue my kids from this trench….this trench is where God is proving Himself to them. He loves them more than I do. He knows the deepest parts of their hearts. He is here in the trench with us and He is going to hold them up, just like He is holding me up.
And, just think back to the story. In the moment where the father was pleading for the childrens’ lives, the mother was probably bawling and begging, too. Imagine the look on their faces and the feeling in their hearts when the son started singing. And, then the daughter joins in. Could anything in this life make you more proud? How would it make you feel to see them face death with you and lead your family in a song of praise to the Lord?! I bet those parents’ faces were beaming as they joined in on the song.
Yesterday was Clay’s birthday. He told me at least 5 times last night that he had a really good day. It was very simple, but we had a lot of good quality time. We spent the morning together and then had lunch by ourselves. Then our parents came for dinner and cookie cake. We even had a visit from Daniel Wesley, who is a sort of local celebrity right now, and a good friend of Sam’s.
After all the celebrating, we sat down with the kids, and I shared a lot of what is written here. Clay and I both told them how we feel and what we desire for them. Clay really shared some powerful words that can only come from him…or from a person in his situation….about the peace of God and the importance of knowing Jesus before you face death. He told them how much he wants to be sure they are in heaven with him so that we can have an assurance that we will all be together for eternity.
We told them, through lots of tears, that we want so badly to rescue them, but we can’t. We reminded them that God didn’t make this tumor and put it in Clay’s head. That this is not punishment for sin. That God isn’t just playing with our emotions. We reminded them through scripture that our lives are solely meant to demonstrate the glory of God to the world.
We explained how living with a heavenly perspective can completely change your view of your life and circumstances. This one is really hard for them to understand right now, but I think they are slowly getting it.
Do you remember the song “Thank You” by Ray Boltz. It’s an oldie, but a really goodie.
I used this to explain to the kids why God uses us in the lives of others. And, just imagine the feeling…one day when we get to heaven…we will know and see all the people who are there because of our testimony. What an amazing feeling to look up and see a line of people just waiting to tell you how you impacted their lives. People who are coming to tell you thank you for giving to the Lord.
And, imagine the feeling of standing there, surrounded by people you’ve touched, and then seeing Jesus! Jesus is there and He also sees all the people who are there to tell you thank you. And, He gets all the glory, but you get to stand there with Him and see what He was able to accomplish through your life.
If we can live each day, totally believing that this moment will truly come – we can change the world. I mean, can you imagine anything more wonderful? Can you imagine anything on this earth that would be more important than that moment? I can’t.
This is how we live with a heavenly perspective.
And, that heavenly perspective, along with a song in our hearts, is what will give us the resolve to stand in our trench and sing a song of praise to our God while we are surrounded by rising dirt. And the world will watch and the world will see that our God is greater. Our God is stronger. Our God is faithful. And many will be astounded and put their trust in the Lord. Amen!