It's Monday and I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend. Mine was very nice attending the GodBlogCon at Biola University this past weekend where we had the opportunity to share the ministry of The Voice of the Martyrs. Today's devotion is from the book Extreme Devotion and it was encouraging to me because it reminds me that our walk of faith is not always comfortable and can often be challenging. If you are being challenged today, remember God is still very near to you.
Countless Christians in the Ukrainian town had already been sent away to Siberian labor camps because of their faith. Now it was Vera Yakovlena’s turn. The reputation of these camps was widely known, and she was certain she would never survive.
When a guard found her witnessing for Christ, her punishment was to stand barefoot for hours on the ice. When she failed to meet her work quota, she was beaten and denied the watery broth they called the evening meal.
One evening, depressed and crying, Vera walked out into the prison yard to be alone. In her misery she didn’t notice that she had crossed into the forbidden zone, where prisoners are shot on sight. Suddenly a harsh voice yelled, “Hey, is your mother a Christian?”
The stunned and frightened Vera, who had actually been thinking of her mother at the time, answered, “Why do you ask?”
The guard said, “Because I’ve been watching you for ten minutes, but I haven’t been able to shoot you. I can’t move my arm. It’s very healthy—I have been moving it all day. So I figured you must have a mother who is praying for you. Run back—I’ll look the other way.”
Vera saw the guard the very next day. He smiled at her and raised his arm saying, “Now I can move it again.”
We like to play it safe. We like security over adventure. We prefer comfort to challenge. When it comes down to it, we want to safeguard our lives from as much doubt and fear as possible. Yet we have forgotten that God offers his protection at times when we are on the front lines in his service. God’s protection is more like a shield in battle than like a security blanket for our comfort at home. When is the last time your stepped out in faith so much that you simply had to rely on God’s protection? Are you so busy safeguarding your life that you have forgotten how to trust God? Are you so cautious that you never take risks for God? Regardless of the outcome, a witness is not simply a “risk.” It is faith.