In light of the many terrorist attacks in November alone -- Beirut, Lebanon (43 dead, 240 injured); Paris, France (130 dead, 368 injured); Nigeria (55 dead and over 100 injured in two separate attacks) I thought this entry in Ray Ortlund's Blog - Christ Is Deeper Still, was a good word to all believers in Jesus. The entry is "They Calmly Sang On" (Nov. 20, 2015).
It is written in light of an event that occurred in the life of John Wesley (founder of the Methodist denomination). What Wesley witnessed on a ship at sea was so startling to him that although he was heading to America to do missions work, it made him realize he didn't yet know Jesus. The Moravian's (of whom he writes) were devout Christians from Germany who had experienced an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit in mid-August of 1727. It is often referred to as, "The Moravian Pentecost." From that point on (and lasting for nearly 100 years) their zeal for prayer and missions and godliness (evidenced most notably in their humility and willingness to both suffer and sacrifice for Jesus) has seen few rivals.
Of the event referred to by Ortlund in his blog entry below, Wesley wrote in his journal on January 25, 1736 that the Moravian's, or simply "the Germans" as he called them:
"...had given a continual proof of their humility by performing those servile tasks for the other passengers which none of the English would undertake; and for which they desired, and would receive no pay, saying, “it was good for their proud hearts,” and “their loving Saviour had done more for them.” Every day had given them occasion to show a meekness which no injury could move. If they were pushed, struck, or thrown down, they rose again and went away; but no complaint was found in their mouth..."
Wesley then states that as they gathered on the ships deck for a worship service (remember this is in late January!) an intense storm whipped up: "As they began the first psalm the sea broke over the deck, split the main-sail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the decks, as if the great deep had already swallowed us up."
Ortlund picks it up from here. Enjoy.
They Calmly Sang On
"John Wesley finally saw how little he knew of Jesus in the middle of the Atlantic, on board the Simmonds, when a storm suddenly broke out. A group of Moravian missionaries happened to be having a worship service on deck at the time. Wesley records that, when the storm became intense, “a terrible screaming began among the English.” But “the Germans looked up, and without intermission calmly sang on."
"I asked one of them afterwards, ‘Were you not afraid?’ He answered, ‘I thank God, no.’ I asked, ‘But were not your women and children afraid?’ He replied mildly, ‘No; our women and children are not afraid to die.'” Wesley then knew that something was missing from his life. [On May 24, 1738] he found it in Christ. He found all he needed to face life and death in Christ alone.
When the next 9/11 hits us, may we serve others in every way we can. But through it all, and even right now, may we not yield to hysteria. May we calmly sing on, because we have in Christ a hope that nothing in this world can destroy. Our serenity will make an everlasting difference to others."
Wesley would actually finish that entry of January 25, 1736 by writing: "From [the Moravian's] I went to their crying, trembling neighbors (the Englishmen), and pointed out to them the difference, in the hour of trial, between those who fear God, and those who fear him not."
Clearly everyone would wish and pray that terrorist activity would stop. Yet from what we are seeing, it appears that may not be the case in the near future. And though we would hope it never comes near to us, or our loved ones (or anyone else for that matter), it still doesn't erase the questions which the possibility thrusts upon us, like: How would we personally face danger or death, like those who know and fear God, or like those who don't? Do we really believe? Do we really trust that our lives are in the hands of our loving Father who governs the universe? Could we, like the Moravian's, be calm and unafraid in the face of death because we know Jesus? Do you know Jesus?
In the Grip of His Grace, Pastor Jeff