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Against the Wind

October 1, 2010

Several years ago I read a book titled “The Heavenly Man” by Brother Yun.  This house-church pastor in China was passionate about Jesus Christ.  Hounded by the authorities he was on the run, frequently detained and sometimes tortured.  This took a terrible toll on his family.  Acquaintances feared to be seen in association with him.

Prison conditions were harsh.  He memorized large portions of the Bible for inner sustenance.  Beatings were common.   Amazingly he looked forward to cleaning latrines overflowing with filth.  A companion over this mess was also a believer.  Performing this repulsive duty they shared the peace of Christ while quietly singing songs of praise.

One afternoon, in the course of my reading, I had had enough.  Hurling the book across the room my heart cried out for persecuted Christians.  Having donned athletic clothes I headed out of town on my bicycle.  My mind was focused like a laser and I was ticked.

Intense emotions had trumped my usual concern for the wind.  My heart and my body were in different realms.   Defiantly, I headed straight into a fierce headwind.  Perhaps the windiest day of the year.  Through clenched teeth I prayed.  Syllable by syllable I expressed prayer for the persecuted.  With each downward stroke of the pedals a piece of my heart was thrust forth in prayer—staccato grunts of intense petition.

For five miles I pedaled—against the wind.  Stopping to turn around I was struck by how effortless it had been to prevail against the wind.  Passionate prayer for persecuted people provided persistence.

Turning toward home the wind was at my back.  The pace quickened and prideful eyes gazed at the speedometer.  Wow, I was flyin’!   Laughing to myself I said, “Is this livin’ or what?”  Then, approaching the city limits a chill of terror swept over me.  It was a “Woe is me, for I am ruined” kind of moment.

With the wind at my back…for five miles…not once…NOT ONCE…did I pray so much as a single word!  In the blink of an eye I went from the puffed up pride of prowess to “Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?!”

We like the wind at our backs.  Yet when we persevere against the wind—we pray more, right?  Take heart, having the wind at our back isn’t as sweet as it seems.  People who strengthen others most are those who pray—against the wind.

Steve

(Bible references:  Isaiah 6:5; Romans 7:24)

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