Knowing my love of biography a friend handed me a slim paperback titled Evidence Not Seen (Harper One, © 1988). Darlene Deibler Rose wrote of the 4 years during which she was a POW in a Japanese internment camp in Indonesia during WW2. She was just 23 years of age, a girl from Iowa, when she married a missionary and went to New Guinea to reach jungle people with Christ’s message in 1937. When the war broke out they were trapped there, eventually separated, and her husband died in 1943.
She endured starvation, torture, and a life that defies imagination. But on every page, there is authentic hope born of an unshakable faith and humble submission to the will of God. Instead of hating her captors, she led the camp’s sadistically cruel commander to faith in Christ. He was a transformed man who went back to Japan to share Christ with his broken nation. At the end of the war, she returned to the States, regained her health, remarried, and returned to missions service for the rest of her life!
The faith that radiated from that book moved me deeply, even to the point of tears. It is not a rosy, ‘everything is wonderful, God answered every prayer with blessings’ story. It is a gritty, often grim, account of circumstances of horrific inhumanity. But, she tells of those moments of worst pain when the Spirit of God whispered His Word to her, when His comfort found her, when the community of faith and love sustained her. I could not help but wonder how I would respond to an ordeal like she endured?
There is amazing strength to be found in giving ourselves to the will of God without reservation. We modern Americans, trained as we are to love our independence and to question, may find it more difficult than some to surrender ourselves to the unexplainable, to the ‘unfairness,’ to a child-like faith that trusts our Abba.
The Scripture is filled with examples of those who did just that. Paul and Silas show us the path of the faithful. After being falsely charged and cruelly beaten they were thrown into the dungeon of the jail in Philippi. Through their tears, they lifted their hearts together in worship. Luke tells us that “Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.” (Acts 16:25, NLT) Chained to a wall, with backs bloodied by Roman whips, not knowing what the morning would bring – they chose to worship the Lord! Just wow, right?
You know that story. At midnight God sent an earthquake that shook the foundations of that prison. Miraculously their chains fell off. But the best result that night came when their jailer saw their great faith in the Lord and trusted in Christ Jesus. The Church was planted in that city that night, growing out of a sacrifice of praise. Worship changes you and me in the middle of life’s circumstances. N.T. Wright says that “You become like what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship.” ― Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
I want to be like Jesus, so I will come and bow in worship! What we do flows out of who we are. Do you want to be changed? Then, become a person who lives worshipfully. Sometimes worship pours out of us like a standing ovation at the end of a great performance. God’s Presence touches us so deeply we just cannot help but praise Him! And then there are times when we worship Him because He demands it and we desire obedience!
Know this: because worship releases such power in us and through us, and because it pleases God, all of evil will conspire to keep us from it. If we are consumed by our work, obsessing about our appearance, frantic to make things work – our hearts are given to idols. But, Jesus teaches that if we “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, (giving worth to God) … all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33, NIV)
Are you working through a difficult situation?
Is your heart crushed by disappointment, your soul aching?
Are the questions outnumbering the answers?
Choose faith and surrender, expressed in true worship. It need not be noisy or demonstrative. It might simply be the act of becoming quiet, sitting before God, and offering yourself again to Him. It may be walking in the world without complaint. Borrow a Psalm, sing a song. Quietly adore Him. Write a prayer of thanksgiving. Pour out your concerns. These are acts of worship.
The word from the Word is the song of the faithful in the time of trial. Make these your words of worship today. “But as for me, I came so close to the edge of the cliff! My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. … Then I realized how bitter I had become, how pained I had been by all I had seen. I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you are holding my right hand. You will keep on guiding me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. …
But those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.” (Psalm 73:2, 21-24, 27-28, NLT)
(Video of this blog at this link)
O worship the King all glorious above
O gratefully sing His wonderful love
Our Shield and Defender the Ancient of Days
Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise
O tell of His might O sing of His grace
Whose robe is the light and canopy space
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm
You alone are the matchless King
To You alone be all majesty
Your glories and wonders
What tongue can recite
You breathe in the air
You shine in the light
O measureless might ineffable love
While angels delight to worship above
Thy mercies how tender how firm to the end
Our Maker Defender Redeemer and Friend
Shine in the light
You shine in the light
Chris Tomlin | Johann Michael Haydn | Robert Grant
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