In Albania, the first self-declared atheist state in the world, a young Christian by the name of Valerii Nasaruk was arrested for boldly tattooing a cross on his hand. He wanted everyone to know from the first handshake that he stuck to his faith in God. Valerii was frustrated, however, by not being allowed to verbally tell others about God’s love.
At the trial, the judge told Valerii’s mother, “Tell your son to change his ways so he can go free.” She thought for a while before responding through tearful eyes, “Valerii, my advice to you is to stand firm and not deny Christ, even if it means your death.”
In a subsequent letter to the underground church, she wrote, “I attended the trial, which was so hard on me. I wished I could have taken his place. The hardest thing was when they asked me in court to advise Valerii to change his ways, but I could not do it. The world accuses us, his parents, for his being sentenced, saying it is the result of our influence. Even some Christians can’t understand why I did what I did, but then I remember that Jesus was misunderstood. When I struggle with depression, I am reminded that Peter advised Jesus about saving his own life. God gives me the power to bear everything. Please pray for me.”
God loves us, and he has great plans for our lives. The problem is, everyone else has plans for us, too. Do this. Do that. Try this. Try that. Words of advice are cheap and plentiful. The time comes, however, when words are costly. Any time another believer encourages us to carry on with God’s call on our lives despite the consequences, we know we have heard from a godly person. Anything to the contrary, even well intentioned, is bad advice. To whom do you listen for spiritual guidance? Recall and record the last bit of spiritual advice you received from a trusted friend. How well have you followed through?