The Hammer and the Anvil
Last eve I passed a blacksmith's door
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
When looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers worn with beating years of time.
"How many anvils have you had," said I,
"To wear and batter all the hammers so?"
"Just one," said he, then said with twinkling eye;
"The anvil wears the hammers out you know."
And so, I thought, the anvil of God's Word
For ages skeptics blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed - the hammers gone!
- John Clifford -
Today is the National Day of Prayer. In fact, there is a very great possibility that today is the very last National Day of Prayer. In the past few weeks many historic events have occurred surrounding this day. A judge ruled that this celebration of prayer is unconstitutional. I heard a news broadcaster on the radio this morning sharing this story, and added that until all of the appeals are done "we can still pray." He meant it as a comfort to those who would miss this day, and that perhaps we could still participate in this national observance. But I was taken aback at his word choice - that right now it is still legal for us to pray, as if one day it could not be. Also, the Pentagon rescinded its invitation to Franklin Graham to speak at their observance of today because they said that he was too one-way in his thinking. They felt that his belief that Jesus was the only way to Heaven was biased and might offend some people. Also, he dares think that Jesus saves, and that Islam is not the way to God. My friends, the enemy is on the move. He is alive and well, using his lies, maneuvers and manipulations to subvert the Word of God, scare His children into hiding, and cause so many to compromise the Truth. We are living in a time when telling someone the Truth in love is considered hate speech, when sharing the love of God is called bias and following Him will cause you to lose friends, jobs, family and maybe even your life. But we are not the first to experience these things. In fact, we are called to experience these things. Jesus told us that if we followed Him, the world would hate us as they hate Him. Going through persecution is not new. Every single disciple, with the exception of John, was killed for their devotion to Jesus and for preaching His Word. (A side note - John did not escape persecution, just death from it. He was exposed to all kinds of insults, injuries, exile and many other things). We in America have enjoyed a life of leisure and luxury when it comes to our freedom of religion and freedom of speech. We have been free to think, say and worship whomever we choose in whatever way we choose. There are churches on almost every corner in some areas, in a variety of denominations with different music, Bible translations, baptism styles, etc. You can attend the church/synagogue/temple/mosque of your choice, or none at all (most seem to choose the latter). We have taken this for granted. Around the world Christians are beaten, stoned, burned alive, arrested, harassed, exiled, spit upon, and killed for their devotion to Christ. In China, people meet in homes in secret, at the threat of jail, torture and detriment to their families, livelihood and bodies, to read the Bible, fellowship with other believers and worship the one true God. When I visited Cuba we attended a church that is technically illegal. The members took every opportunity to be together - nearly every night they shared their food, prayed and laughed together, while outside the policia walk the streets carrying machine guns, ready to harass them. They worship God with such abandon, and depend on Him to provide their every need - from a home, to food, to medicine, healing and protection. We do not understand such a life. We cannot comprehend a time when speaking the name of Jesus is illegal, and reading the Bible can have you thrown in jail. But that day is coming. I don't know if it will come in my lifetime, next year, or a hundred years, but it will come. When it does, I will have to have already established who I serve and to Whom a belong. Today, I pray for this nation that God has chose to bless so much. But more than that I pray for the believers throughout the world that are suffering for their faith. I'm praying for the people that have laid it all on the line for Jesus, and that I would have a faith like that. I want to be willing to live sold-out for Him in whatever way that means - living in a different town, living on less, serving, forgiving those who hate me, or even unto death. I want to be willing to give whatever He would ask of me with joy because I know that the only real life worth living is the one that is surrendered to Him. So today I join thousands, maybe even millions, of believers in praying, but I pray that we would be on our knees before the Father not just today but everyday, earnestly seeking Him and living a life that is fully surrendered to His Will. The world will not like it, but just like those hammers in the poem I started with, they will fall away. Only the Lord will remain. I know how the story ends, and I want to make sure that I am standing on the side of my Lord.