Mary Adams (25 Jan 2015)
"Will I ever learn, God?"


 
 
 
Will I never learn, Lord? 
Will I ever reach far enough into your words to allow understanding to penetrate a mind that is so opposed to some of your ways?
 
The world tugs and tears at mine, for vengeance satisfies with a temporary ephoria--- to make me feel justified and
convinced I have done the right thing. But personal blame and guilt has been buried behind in a sepeculre I chiseled with my own hands,
and a heavy stone seals the gravesite.  I go my way, and am convinced I have done God’s will.
Jesus’s words shroud me like a cloak I wear to keep me warm and comforted.  I understand what He says about love and forgiveness, but there are times when that mantle slips off my shoulders and exposes a part of my spiritual skin to a damp coldness. Without anyone pointing it out, I know that a part of me lacks total acceptance of all His words.  I WANT that warmth which most of it brings to me, but am afraid to trust all if it completely, for it makes no sense to me.You plainly taught your disciples something that was totally opposed to both our human nature and their religious precepts.  They rejoiced to see your many miracles and be a witness to incredible and indisputable proofs that you were Messiah.  They believed in you. But then you said:
“You have heard that it has been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate your enemy. BUT I SAY UNTO YOU,
love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully
use you and persecute you”. (Matthew 5:43-44)
Men that behead children?  Men that slaughter, rape, dismember, enslave innocent people?  Who ram airplanes into tall buildings, who
destroy and do dispictable acts of violence in the name of their god?
 
Love them? Bless them? Do good to them? Pray for them?
  
Righteous indignation rises up inside of me:  Absolutely not!  They should be wiped off the face of the earth!  Destroy them all! Get rid of such people!  Are you telling me, Lord, we should just lay down and let them continue their reign of terror? 
 
This is what has troubled me most. 
 
Until now.
 
For it suddenly occurred to me that hundreds of years ago it was such a terrorist that brought the gospel to me, a Gentile. That a man, so obsessed with his religion, he “ravaged the church, entering house after house, dragging off men and women and put them in prison”.  A man who watched, and held the coats of those who stoned a young Christian named Stephen to death and personally stood and watched  them doing it.  And who, afterwards, went to obtain legal permission to go to Damascus and root out those Christians who had escaped dangers in Jerusalem. 
 
This terrorist gathered a cohort of men to accompany him to carry out this purge.  But on that road, as they neared Damascus, this terrorist, “breathening out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” was suddenly struck by a blinding light from heaven, and he fell to the earth and heard a voice saying unto him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks”. (Acts 9)
 
Pricks?
 
As I re-read this story, I wondered.   What were these “pricks”?  Could it be Stephen’s last words he overheard him pray?  “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge”.  That perhaps this terrorist Saul might have wondered, how could he do that?
 
One man’s last prayer was for those killing him.  And so was Jesus’: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.
 
I remember reading the testimony of that Japanese squadron commander of the Pearl Harbor attack.  After the war, he was called to the war trials in Tokyo. On his way out of the court house, as young airman named Jake DeShazer was standing, handing out tracts he had
made which said, “I was a prisoner of the Japanese for 3 1/2 years.  But I love the Japanese people”.  He had found Jesus as his Lord while in that prison, and his tract was to tell how it happened.  He spoke of Jesus’ crucifixion and His last words, “Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do”.  He urged whoever read the tract to find a Bible and read about it.  That Japanese man, Mitsuo Fuchido, went and purchased a Bible, returned to his hotel room, and read that story, fell down beside his bed, and found Jesus Chrit in his heart.  Both men later became evangelists in the country of Japan.
 
So I wondered.
 
For this terrorist Saul later wrote in one of his letters to Timothy:
..the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty to the pulling down of strongholds”. 
Could anyone ever understand it better than him?
 
Is there a powerful meaning I have overlooked—that our loving, sincere prayers for these cowardly, brutal terrorists might possibly cause another “Damascus road event” in some of their lives?
 
I cannot take part of Jesus’ words and leave that which I don’t like.  And to pray it with sincerity?
 
For myself, it will be difficult to do.  But if I cannot, then I must pray someone will pray for me—for I surely am the one needing a bright light and a voice from heaven too.
 
MARY E ADAMS