The only way I know how to stop terrorism is through the work of the Holy Spirit. In my own power, I can do nothing. Although I long to do good, to help others, to lift up my neighbors and care for my brothers and sisters, and although billions of people feel the same way and are exceeding the expectations of any of us in these areas, I still cannot change the world. Not in my own power. None of us can. Only God can change it for the better.
One may argue that the End Times are fast approaching and the world is getting exponentially worse, and that we are all spiraling downward at such a rapid rate that there is no way to reverse it. God’s Word is true. He does promise an End Times, a Last Day, and great suffering in the immediate days before it. I believe His Word is true.
But I don’t know if these are the Last Days (only that I’m to treat them as such, and assume that Jesus Christ is returning soon, at any moment, to watch and wait for Him). I don’t know. To be honest, it’s frightening to think that we might be near the Great Tribulation, to be at its doorstep. Jesus says that the floods and earthquakes are but the birth pangs, and it’s still not the end. It seems that the earthquakes are coming more rapidly, and the floods as well.
Lord, please help me. Please help us!
Yet it is my conviction to believe that good can still come of our work here. I have to believe that until that time, unless Jesus comes back today, I must work to improve our world. I must still hope. Still believe. But as I mentioned earlier, I cannot change this world for the better. Not in my own power. I must let the Holy Spirit do so in His timing, in His power, for His glory.
I pray all the time for things that don’t turn out the way I anticipate, and those prayers may seem like they’ve been unanswered. I pray that our world can, for perhaps just a moment, just a glimmer, come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—to repent, to give up our idols, turn from them for good, and bow down to worship Jesus Christ as Lord. I hope for an awakening, for our beautiful country of the United States of America, to serve Jesus Christ, to become free, truly free, in Him. I don’t know what God would do with a prayer like that. I pray it all the same, but I don’t know.
And yet I still must hope. It is my conviction, my faith, to believe that God can still capture the hearts and minds of this country: the land of the free, the home of the brave. To show us, truly, what it means to be free in Jesus Christ.
Back to terrorism. It’s such an ugly horror. The way to stop terrorism is to change the hearts of the terrorists. It’s possible. In fact, in God’s Word, it’s a promise. The prophet Isaiah asked the question concerning tyrants (or, terrorists, who is a kind of tyrant):
“Who can demand that a tyrant let his captives go?” (49:24)
The answer, of course, is that only the LORD can. And in Isaiah, He promised to do so:
But the LORD says, ‘the captives of warriors will be released,
and the plunder of tyrants will be retrieved.
For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children.'” (49:25)
God can do the impossible. He can change hearts. He can bring our country back to Him. He can restore us. Lift us. Give us a spot of earth where we can kneel to worship Him. He can make us free. He can keep us and our children safe. He can fight our fight for us. He can change the hearts of an entire generation, and make us godly, wanting Him. He can spread His Word into the darkest corners of our land and scoop out the gunk, clean out the puss, make us new. He can heal our broken marriages, our broken relationships. He can take away our fears. He can give us soft hearts. He can teach us His Word, the Living Word, the sword of the Spirit, sharp and dangerous. He can forgive. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive, now and beyond. Jesus Christ is a forgiving God, full of mercy, who love us passionately. Jesus is determined to save us from the wrath to come. I do not want to be there in that wrath. I think it would be terrible. And I believe Jesus’s heart is to save us from it. My plea is not that we make up our minds to do good and to improve the world—not on our own power, but for all of us to give up our lives for Him, to die in our flesh, in our old selves, and become new. If a man wants to lay down his life for a cause, let it not be one which maims little children, but one that is transformed by love, one that multiplies goodness in his words, in his eyes, in his kindness, everywhere he goes. If a man wants to be famous for something he did, let him be famous for how he surrendered himself to his Father, Jesus Christ, and let him discover his identity, and his strength, in His arms, and Jesus Himself will make him famous in His heart and everywhere else.
We are living in difficult times. I believe God created all of us to live in these difficult times not so that we would be destroyed by them, but that we would come to know Him as our God in the midst. I cannot change this world. Only God can. And He will do it only when it brings Him glory. My only desire is to be able to echo these words from Psalm 138:2:
“I will bow down toward Your holy temple
and will praise Your name for Your love and Your faithfulness,
for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word.”
If I am to make my mark in this world, let it be with my knee, on clay, before Jesus Christ. If I am to suffer for Him, let my groaning be a psalm of praise. I am too wrapped up in love, I love Jesus too much to want to spend this life without Him at my side. He has changed my life from my deepest core, destroying only in me the things that would destroy me, and building up all the wonderful good things that bring life. I am better known as a pruned twig than as a man, whose heart has been clipped and fashioned.
Jesus Christ is not the enemy. He is the Answer. He is the freedom whom we have all been seeking in our own prodigal ways. He is the source of everything good. I know so because from His hand came all of us. We are all created by Him, and for Him. And what a Creator He is! Look around at all the good people. Of course we are fallen. Of course we are sinners. Of course we are at one time His enemies, in our rebellion. But Jesus changes us. He works on us. He doesn’t let go. He will stop at nothing until we know, each of us, that He is our God, right beside us, validating us even in our fears.
I want independence just as much as the next man. I want the good life. I want to be free. I’m scared of terrorists. I’m scared of tyrants. But there is a deeper and greater love still in this world into which I can tap, available in a pregnant stream. That love is the everlasting love of God the Father, known as I Am, as Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for my sins and rose again on the third day, who is King of kings, and Lord of lords, whose Kingdom has no end.