This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled Extreme Devotion, compiled by the Voice Of the Martyrs. In the following passage, the account of the villagers of Dobrogea (Romanian citizens) provides us with fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6)
Farmers, landowners, and peasants everywhere lost everything: fields, sheep, cattle, houses, and furniture. This once-thriving agricultural sector of Romania was destroyed. Every farmer now became a slave of the state, working for pathetic wages on the state's field. Families stood in line just to obtain bread.
To keep the people from becoming resistant to his strategy, the dictator himself helped in the initial launch. In the Romanian province of Dobrogea, all of the villagers were gathered together in the town center and asked to willingly give up their possessions. When no one volunteered, Ceausescu shot ten people with his own gun. The vote was taken again: "Who is willing to give up all of their possessions?"
They played military music and chanted the praises of Communism. As the people were forced to dance, a video was made propagating their enthusiastic adherence to socialism. One farmer who had lost everything reported later, "They thought they took everything. But they left something very important--our hymnals. So we sat down and sang praises to the Lord."
FURTHER: People often play games to get new people talking and learning about each other. One of the more revealing questions is to ask people what one thing they would bring if they were stranded on a deserted island. Most people have a hard time deciding, and have to be reminded that this is only a game. However, the people of Romania did not have the luxury of playing a game; they were experiencing real life. Their government didn't even allow them one possession. But the villagers realized the presence of those overlooked hymnals brought joy to their village, which now resembled their own deserted island. The people treasured the hymnals, and God treasured the people.
A moment of consideration: The Apostle Paul said to the Philippians, that facing times of plenty or of hunger had brought him to be satisfied no matter the situation, able to abide all things--and to continue his ministry of reconciling the world to Christ. The head of the World Economic Forum has promised that we will own nothing--and we will be happy. On the surface, such a claim by Mr. Schwab would seem oxymoronic and full of dire portent. The Christians of Dobrogea were faced with the outright demand that they surrender all their earthly goods, their jobs and careers, and their homes--and become indigent serfs. Mr. Schwab implies this as well:
If the denial of worldly goods frightens and concerns us, perhaps we might love the world more than we should. (1 John 2:15-17) Christians around the world have little by way of worldly goods, yet they survive and remain faithful amid the "storms" of life. We face an uncertain earthly future: the overshadowing threat of war and invasion; chemical trails in our skies dropping toxins upon us; manufactured plagues with remedies that kill; famine, as grain fields and farm animal herds are decimated; unhealthy genetically modified, bioengineered, and lab-produced foods (e.g., meat and milk); "Apeel" coatings on organic and regular fruit and vegetables [MSDS Sheet says "do not touch"]) introduced at our markets; an economy that is held together by a thread; and hordes of immigrants streaming illegally through our open southern border. More and more people are standing against the abrogation of their livelihoods in Europe and south America, among other places. (This is critically important in opposing the purposes of Satan.) This, then, is the world we "love"; but God calls us to love Him instead of this fallen orb (1 John 2:15). Whether in dearth or in excess, it is right to ask ourselves: is Jehovah Jireh ["Provider"] any less or great (Revelation 1:8)? In lack or want, does He still reign on high? God has promised to meet our needs. (Philippians 4:19) His promises are sure; His Word is unfailing--His love abiding. What other intangible needs do we have as Christians? Hope? Encouragement? Fellowship? Courage? Spiritual strength? Let us look to our need for Him, and see perhaps if salvation is needed, if Emmanuel's nearness is intact, and if God's love abides. These too are often tacit needs, yet of great importance. More tangible needs are healthy food and clothing . As we look to the Lord, may we, as Paul, rejoice--whether we are facing plenty, hunger, abundance, or need (James 1:2-4).
In their loss, the Romanians in this lesson looked to the Lord and sang hymns of praise to God with hymnals they discovered. We likewise can and should praise God with what we have, bringing Him glory and honor. The Apostle Paul described the other "stuff" of life as garbage, rubbish, or trash. "Good riddance!" he might have said. Perhaps we too may deem everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. Paul said that he, like the Christians in Dobrogea, had suffered the loss of all things and came to consider such "things" to be rubbish, in order that he might gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8) Yet he, and we as well, should rejoice in the Lord. (Habakkuk 3:18-19)
Our survival plan should begin with reorientation. Paul urged the Christians at Colossae, saying to them and to us, "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." (Colossians 3:1-2) "For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life--is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." (1 John 2:16-17) In all the turmoil surrounding us, remember that our hope is in Jesus, not in the possessions that weigh us down. Remember, too, Paul’s words to Timothy, as he counseled him: "…godliness with contentment is great gain [my emphasis], for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction." (1 Timothy 6:6-9) Godliness with contentment is desirable; being satisfied with what we have, whether much or little, is a key to happiness in this life.
Remember, too, the times we live in. Paul has alerted us, as he did his cohort Timothy:
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. (2 Timothy 3:1-9) These are times that will try our souls, as asserted by Thomas Paine. Today, as then, we will need boldness, assured faith in Christ Jesus, trust in the Almighty, and confidence in our God.
This is not a game. Much is at stake in our lives as the devil ramps up his desperate acts and attacks around the world. Our citizenship is in heaven; look up, for our redemption is near! Set our minds on the things above, and be certain of our readiness to respond to the Lord’s upward call. Until that time, let us be faithful, resolute and occupiers of the land until He comes. We’re in this together.