Thursday, 20 February 2014

Which Time Was Easier? Theirs or Ours?

Mariakin hovered in the back of the crowd.  For many weeks now she had been smuggling food to her father while he was in the dungeon and now she was compelled to watch him be burned at the stake with many others. Her spirit was weary, discouraged. Every day they suffered from the threat of persecution. She didn’t know how she could bear it much longer; this fleeing, this worrying, this fellowshipping in secret in the dead of night, in the storm and the cold, lest someone would reveal their whereabouts and tell the authorities.  One by one the fires were kindled in the rushes at the bottom of each stake. When the smoke began to curl up around her father’s stake, Mariakin fainted.
Mariakin felt a gentle hand stroking the hair off her forehead and cheeks. She opened her eyes and instantly recognised the strong, compassionate face of her precious Saviour and Friend, Jesus.
               “Mariakin, you have become, weary and discouraged because of all the suffering around you. I am going to transport you to a time far into the future, so you can see what other Christians in another time, are going through.”
               Mariakin’s eyes widened when she saw the immense church building. Why it was as big, or bigger than the state church that was filled with many of their sworn enemies.  Everyone was dressed in such fine, rich garments. Surely this wasn’t followers of the same humble Jesus, they followed?  Dozens of people were strolling in from various directions and she followed them in, her heart thudding nervously. Many were clustered in small groups, talking softly and frequently smiling. No one was looking towards the door as if afraid the authorities would come in to disrupt the meeting and seize the leaders.
               Someone at the front announced a song number and to her surprize there seemed to be plenty of songbooks to go around. Because it was all so strange and new, Mariakin chose a seat near the back and was frequently distracted by latecomers coming in, and people whispering long after the service began.  Mariakin was grateful that she could understand every word and was surprized and touched when someone gave out a song that started something like this: faith of our father’s living still in spite of dungeon, fire and sword…Maybe they are of the same faith we are of, although they are living in a different time.
               She bit her lip nervously again when the group separated into smaller groups but she found herself following several girls who appeared to be about her own age. Her face paled.  Why were they going behind a closed door? Were they going to be interrogated, now?  Mariakin was glad that they didn’t seem to notice her. They seemed so relaxed and comfortable in their fine rich garments, and she wondered how they could focus on Jesus when they had such pretty clothes to wear.
               Mariakin missed the fervency of spirit that was so much a part of their tiny services ‘back home.’ Sure, several of the sisters seemed concerned, but it was almost as if they were talking in their sleep, and didn’t truly realize the dangers around them.
               Oh Jesus, Mariakin cried inwardly, “Take me back home! I would fall asleep spiritually if I had to live in this time! I would fall in love with the luxury and lack of persecution and it would be so difficult to really put you first in my life. Take me back, please take me back!”
               As Mariakin awoke she saw that her father’s pain creased face was radiant with joy. Just then someone beside her burst into song, and throughout the crowd others joined in, too happy to care who might hear and nab them next. As the suffering ones expired one by one, she KNEW that their songs were mingling with the songs of the redeemed and that the Father in Heaven was welcoming them home. Her earthly father gave her a weak smile just before his head fell forward, and his eyes closed. “I’ll meet you there!” she called, and joined in the singing.

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