It was one of those “bad Russia days” as we call them. This time it was related to the fact that the ministry God has called me to looks very different from what Russians are used to, and Russians don’t like new things. As a result, opinions across the Christian community are divided over me. Some love me, and some are pretty skeptical. Mostly I have done nothing about it over the years, taking the posture that God is my defender. Two years ago a pastor wrote a negative letter about me. Then several months ago another guy in ministry took it upon himself to write something even worse about me and send it to as many pastors as he could. What offended me the most was that neither had bothered to try to talk it through with me. The second guy has never even met me, and for the last several months has greeted my attempts to meet and talk with silence. Finally this week through a push I gave through a mutual friend, he agreed to meet, but only on his terms.
So last night I went walking to talk to the Lord about all this. Walking through our courtyard, I crossed the Black Creek, then the local railroad platform, under the new viaduct, and then crossed over into the park for a stroll. In the middle of the park is a monument commemorating the most famous event in its history – the duel that killed Alexander Pushkin. I read the words of Lermontov inscribed there:
“The poet has died! – slave of honor, –
Fallen, slandered by rumor,
With lead in his chest, a thirst for vengeance,
And proud head bowed!”
The whole affair was over the behavior of a French diplomat towards Pushkin’s wife, which had been flirtations (as was she) but probably no more. Interestingly, this was Pushkin’s 30th appointed duel, though some had been called off. Pushkin was an excellent shot, able to hit a bullet from 20 paces, yet he never shot first. In this case, Pushkin did fire back after being shot in the stomach, but only hit his opponent’s arm. He apparently followed Mozart’s dictum that “Genius and villainy are incompatible.” (Source)
It was then that I realized I was walking through that park planning my own duel in my head. Indeed slander of the sort I have endured would almost certainly have justified a duel 200 years ago. This realization woke me up, causing me to consider that I was probably a bit too personally invested in the outcome to honor the Lord.
Returning home, three of my students were working on an assignment, but they called me in to share something with me and to encourage me. In prayer one had gotten a picture of a tsunami, saying to me that God’s purposes are absolutely unstoppable. His power to change reality is absolute. They prayed for me and asked some great questions (hey, that’s what we study how to do!), and I started to think that God was calling me to a higher standard than just winning an intellectual duel. Could I find love as the higher value instead?
Today I journaled with the Lord about this:
I am a Tsunami. I am on the move, and nothing can stop the force of my love coming into this world and forming it into my image. I am the force of Love, and nothing is more powerful in this universe. I am unstoppable. I am great and Almighty, but I am the force of love, which is not the force of the world. I am not the force of hatred, violence, of control and manipulation. I am another force of another kind; I am meek and mild in my power. This is a spirit that the world does not know, but it is able to recognize it as somehow different, and that my force has a kind of authority that is different but good. This is the force of love that will turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the hearts of the children back to their fathers. It is the kind of love that will win the hearts of Russians back to their Heavenly Father, a love that sent My Son to die for the lost, not as one who makes them bow the knee. That is not my way. I do not force myself even with good arguments. I do not force myself with imposing questions and ways that demand submission. I am another spirit, and you can find me only in humility and meekness.
But I have such good arguments, Lord. Why give me such a strong mind if not to use it?
Your mind belongs to me, and it is to be used when and where I desire for my glory. Your mind is being used now in the writing of your courses, and that is pleasing to me. In this situation I want your heart more than your mind. Give your heart to me, submit to my leadership, to my process, to the force of my love, and then your mind will follow behind in submission to my process. This is my way.
What heart do you want me to have for them, Lord?
I want you to have the heart of a servant. You are here to serve the city, to serve My Church, and to serve my servants, so serve them.
They might ask me to serve them by renouncing something that is of you.
I will never leave or forsake you, and you will never renounce the faith and calling that I have given you. You are a carrier of something unique and precious that I have given you. What I have given you is a gift for this country, and you yourself are a gift for this country. I have sent you, and I bear responsibility for what I have started. This is my ministry, and I will see to it that it continues to the end, to the release of my full glory. Even if you were to stop doing your ministry, my ministry would not stop. I am unstoppable. They may kill the body, but not the spirit.
OK, but even if I were to stop doing one kind of ministry, I can’t just let their objections stand, or else those who are now doing that ministry will also be persecuted. They need defending.
Follow me in the process and watch me do the defending. I will lead you by the heart that I have given you, and you will know what to say at the right time.