“But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot”. (Jeremiah 20:9)
I returned to Israel this week after a month away in the US and Canada. My parents and I had a wonderful time visiting with friends and sharing about Israel. Along the way, we met many people and heard much about the situation of the Body of Messiah in those areas. Many of the people whom we met were like Gaius, who opened up their homes to us, shared and gave of themselves from all their heart. It was a delight to meet and spend time with them.
At one point in out trip, while we were in Canada, we participated in a parade along with a local congregation that we visited. The Pastor of the congregation could not stop singing and if he could have jumped throughout the parade, he would have done so (but he couldn’t due to a heart operation he had just gone through). The congregation prepared a float with the sole purpose of lifting up the name of the Lord Yeshua. The message they chose to display was of water flowing from a well into vessels and turning to wine. They chose the verse from John 4:13-14 “Jesus answered and said to her: Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life”. This verse appeared on the four sides of the float. A few amazing things happened there. The congregation prepared a disk with songs declaring the truth of the gospel. But, a short time before we started walking, the fuse in the radio burned out. It seemed there was no way to play the songs, so we started praying that the parade would not start until we got it fixed. A man from the congregation went to get something to fix it, and about a minute later, they got it going again, just as it was our turn to move and start marching! In addition to that, there was a group of doves circling above the congregation’s float the entire time, for two hours! The experience there was amazing. We could really see people on fire for God, who were not ashamed to declare what they believe. It was so wonderful to march in that city, where tens of thousands of people gathered to see the different floats, and for us to carry banners with the name Yeshua, as we sang along with the radio loudly that Yeshua is Lord and God. That was an incredibly special experience!
That event, along with hearing about the situation in different places, got me thinking. Today, just like in Elijah’s time, believers are faced with two options: Live the Word to the fullest, or compromise and try to blend in. It is so easy to compromise and not talk about controversial issues, for fear of being despised, cast aside or persecuted. If Paul or any of the other apostles were to live in our days, I highly doubt whether they would use “softer” terminology to address certain issues in society or not mention them at all. Today, society calls what is good, “bad”, and what is bad, “good“. We have responsibility as believers to stand up for the truth, even if it is considered by some as “hate speech”. Are we to be afraid of being persecuted? Yes, we should use wisdom in our conversations, but wisdom does not mean being silent. Of course there is time for that too, but only as God leads. What I mean is not be silent out of fear. The prophet Jeremiah suffered so much that at one point he decided not to mention God’s name anymore and not share His Word, because he was tired and afraid. But he couldn’t. God’s Word was so strong in him and it burned like a fire. He could not keep quiet. He had to speak up. He had to share God’s truth. He had to say what God had put in his mouth to say.
One of my brothers has a saying: “When you are on fire for God, people will come and watch you burn”. I know people nowadays who definitely are on fire for the Lord, just as Paul, Elijah and Jeremiah and many others were. They knew the price they had to pay as followers of God, and they paid it with joy and love in their hearts. In the parade that I mentioned, the only congregation that participated was the one we were with. The only one. It was such a great opportunity for many congregations in that area to be there, but they didn’t seize it. There could be many reasons for that, but one that comes to mind is – commitment. We heard that word a lot during this trip. People shared that many young people are believers, but not committed. They believe, but their faith is not central in their lives – the Lord Yeshua is not central in their lives. That is so so sad and painful to think of. God wants us to be dedicated to Him, to boast only in Him and to live our lives solely for Him.
My prayer and desire is that God’s Word would be so powerful in our lives, that it would be like fire in our bones and in our heart, so that we would not be able to hold back from sharing it with others. When that happens, oh, it will be a sight to behold. It could turn the world upside down, as it did some two thousand years ago.
© Hannah Kramer