August 18, 2006
Returning from the East
by Max Lucado
Somewhere Oswald Chambers wrote: “Christians must occasionally travel under sealed orders.” Such was the case for a group of us who traveled to China in August. Though we think we know the purpose of the trip, I’m confident that the real orders were seen only by spiritual forces.
Our groups consisted of ministers, representatives of two Christian colleges, a representative of Focus on the Family, a publishing delegate, a lawyer, and John Bentley, the trip facilitator and director of an orphanage in China. Our goal was simple: extend the hand of Christian friendship to high-ranking government officials in China. By his grace we were granted audiences with
- The China Social Service Commission
- The State Department
- The Department of Religion
- The Communist Party Department of International Understanding
Each meeting lasted 45 minutes to an hour. The first three meetings began with prepared speeches from the official explaining China's position on a variety of matters, but especially religion. The meetings were gracious and hospitable. In each case, our message to them was simple and identical...we extend the hand of goodwill and hope that we can enhance our relationship. We told them that we come more in the name of Jesus than in the name of a country and would like the chance to display the love of Christ through good works in China.
It was no small moment when one of the communist leaders made the statement: “We receive you as ambassadors of the love of Jesus.”
Let me also mention how cooperative the US Embassy has been. Thanks to their intervention, the meetings we feared had fallen through were held. They hosted our delegation at the embassy and encouraged us to keep up this mission.
I learned so much about the work of God in China:
- Estimates as high as 100 million Christians.
- Persecution in many cases is lessening as the country becomes more open in its understanding. It’s no longer necessary to smuggle Bibles; indeed we visited a Christian book store near the university district of Beijing.
- While the country is known for its Communist regime or exploding economy, fastest in the history of the world, it should be known for its delightful people. The people are so quick to smile and happy to serve. They are, indeed, a special nation…worthy of every effort to tell them about Christ.
School's First Day
by Max Lucado
“Jenna, wake up. It’s time to go to school.”
She will hear those words a thousand times in her life. But she heard them for the first time this morning.
I sat on the edge of her bed for a while before I said them to her. To tell the truth, I didn’t want to say them. I didn’t want to wake her. As I sat in the silence, I realized that my words would awaken her to a new world.
For four lightning-fast years she’d been ours, and ours alone. And now that was all going to change.
I didn’t want to wake her up because I didn’t want to give her up.
But I woke her anyway. I interrupted her childhood with the inevitable proclamation, “Jenna, wake up.… It’s time to go to school.”
I knew it was time. I knew it was right. And I knew she would be fine. I gave her up as much as I could today.
Today’s events took it from black-and-white theology to Technicolor reality.
“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31, 32)
I was releasing Jenna into a safe environment with a compassionate teacher who stood ready to wipe away any tears. You, Father, released Jesus into a hostile arena with a cruel soldier who turned the back of your son into raw meat.
I gave up my child fully aware that were she to need me I would be at her side in a heartbeat. You said good-bye to your son fully aware that when he would need you the most, when his cry of despair would roar through the heavens, you would sit in silence. The angels, though positioned, would hear no command from you. Your son, though in anguish, would feel no comfort from your hands.
Before the day was over, I sat in silence a second time. This time not beside my daughter, but before my Father. This time not sad over what I had to give, but grateful for what I’d already received—living proof that God does care.