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By Greg Morse — 3 months ago
You never imagined that it could come to this.
You have been married for years to your dear wife. You have been your beloved’s, and your beloved has been yours. Three sons and a daughter she bore you, four children that now watch you with a look you can’t describe. What an answer to prayer she has been. Your tears hold memories of life before the whispers came. Why is this happening?
You found out from your daughter. In disbelief you went to her with questions. The voice sounded the same, her hair framed her beauty as it always had, the dimple in her cheek and the birthmark on her neck remained where you left them. Yet someone else speaks as her mouth moves, telling foreign words of strange beliefs. The wife of your youth, your lovely doe, has become sick. An illness preys upon her soul. How did this happen? You resolve to reason with her quietly, surely she will snap out of it.
Time heats gentle persuasion into desperate pleading. She no longer follows Yahweh. She implores you and the kids to join her. There are gods elsewhere.
Days pass while leaving you in a nightmare from which you cannot wake. Her idolatry deepens. You would have preferred a grizzly death than see this day. You would have bid the stars crush you or the sea to swallow you before you witnessed her bowing to another than Yahweh. She is you, you are her, one flesh. Your rib has pursued death. And what is worse — you’re tempted to think — you know the Scriptures. You could turn a blind eye, but not a blind mind.
If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods,” which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you. . . you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. (Deuteronomy 13:6–8)
You shall not yield to her, listen to her, pity her, spare her . . . or conceal her. What then was the hardest thing you have ever done, you did: You brought your daughter and both told the elders her secret. The elders inquired and searched and asked diligently to be certain (Deuteronomy 13:14); she did not hide, did not yield. And again, you know the next lines,
But you shall kill [her]. Your hand shall be first against [her] to put [her] to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone [her] to death with stones, because [she] sought to draw you away from the Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.
Never have you faced such a temptation to cast off Yahweh’s rule. You would give yourself to spare her. How can you sit by and watch her die, let alone be involved in her death, and even throw the first stone? Never has disobedience felt more right. Abraham brought Isaac up the mountain, and came down with him. This day would not end like that.
The community stands watching, waiting. “Your hand shall be first against her to put her to death, and afterward the hand of all the people.”
Cruelty, this is cruelty, the thought hisses into your mind. Before you can think it, she shouts, “The gods of the nations wouldn’t require you to stone your own wife!” Your eye, seeing through a flood, beholds the blurry shape of your dearest embrace, the mother of your children. And through the stillness your ear hears the word of your God, “Your eye shall not pity her, nor shall you spare her.” Your eye or your ear? Your wife or your God?
Could You Cast the Stone?
The scene is horrible even to imagine. It takes an emotional toll to consider. The rock in your hand, a mother, a daughter, a father, a husband, a best friend before you, the community surrounding you, and your God above. Moses knew this while writing,
If your brother, the son of your mother,or your son or your daughteror the wife you embrace (literally, “wife of your bosom”)or your friend who is as your own soul, entices you. . . .
Natural affection screams against the proceedings. This is not a faceless idolater but your beloved. The scene cuts the soul of all who see it; all who hear of it. It tests: to see whether we truly love Yahweh supremely or not (Deuteronomy 13:3). And it teaches. Teaches the fear of God and the proper appraisal of turning from the true God to other loves.
Have you, standing beside the solemn community, learned its lesson?
But God Isn’t Like That — Right?
The New Covenant is different from the Old. We do not execute false teachers or their apostates, do not “purge the evil from [our] midst” (Deuteronomy 13:5) by throwing stones. The closest thing we do — something just as serious — is church discipline and excommunication. When Paul tells the church at Corinth to “Purge the evil person from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:13), he means, “not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler — not even to eat with such a one” (1 Corinthians 5:11).
Yet, the difference between covenants is not the kind that some people want to make. Some imagine that the God of the Old Testament — the God who here would have idolaters and false prophets stoned — is somehow a bloodthirsty and brutal deity, while his divine Son, on the other hand, comes as the more moral, civil, and compassionate of the Godhead. They mention this Old Testament God with red face and ready-made apology. Reading this, they wonder, Why even reflect on such a text? This is not helping the gospel go forth.
“God values perfectly what we value imperfectly. He loves undyingly what we sputter to love and fail.”
Such reluctancies — in them and in ourselves — remind us of great news: God is not like you, not like me. He is more just, more holy, and more compassionate than we imagine, all at once. He is more appropriately tuned to reality than we. He values perfectly what we value imperfectly. He loves undyingly what we sputter to love and fail. He holds allegiances in perfect grasp, knows the weight of the crown upon his head, and legislates with mathematical perfection, despite our faltering algebra. That situation is horrible because sin is horrible, not God.
More Loving than God
Such texts help me (as I hope they help you) recalibrate my thinking and my feeling. They act as smelling salts to my sensibilities, confronting the weaknesses of my personality, community, and age. When I am tempted to imagine myself with a stone in hand, I feel my heart grow faint and shake its head. And when this occurs, when I let the text work on me, I begin to pray, “I believe, help my unbelief.” And I ask, Where are my loves crooked?
With my family, perhaps. I am not to lessen my love for family, but rather love God supremely, with my whole being. Christ reiterates that he will suffer no rivals (should we stand at the crossroad),
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37)
Or, perhaps, with my God’s glory. In my imagining, I am more devastated by the consequence of sin than the affront of sin; more offended by the wages of sin than by the sin itself. I need to overhear how God teaches angels to feel about exchanging him for anything else:
Be appalled, O heavens, at this;be shocked, be utterly desolate,declares the Lord,for my people have committed two evils:they have forsaken me,the fountain of living waters,and hewed out cisterns for themselves,broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:12–13)
Or, perhaps, with my community. God shows mercy to the community through this hard lesson: “And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.” Others’ family members would fall if I lacked nerve to obey.
My “compassion” would value the creature over the Creator, high-handed rebellion over God’s glory, my wife’s unbelieving life over the faithful she would infect with her whispers of unbelief.
Let Goods and Kindred Go
Today, we are a people quick to trust our feelings, our judgments, our sense of things, with God somewhere comfortably in the background. Difficult texts like this remind us of the towering worth of God and the high allegiance of our calling. And such texts can test us, “to know whether you love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 13:3).
“We must decide now, as best we can and with God helping us, to never choose kin over King.”
One of Satan’s most successful snares is to infect faith through our closest relationships. Where God means for them to give life, he means death. We feel for those caught in the crossfire of a beloved’s war with God. But neither can we ignore the rotten fruit: pastors who change their minds on homosexuality because a son comes out; a Christian mother who capitulates on abortion because her daughter secretly procured one; a wife who concedes to universalism because her husband left the faith. Satan has robbed many through this backdoor.
A text like Deuteronomy 13 bids us decide now, as best we can and with God helping us, to never choose kin over King, should that dark day ever come. Though my heart be wrung watching him or her run after other gods, I will not. Although their sin twists my soul in knots I can’t untie, though the loss of that relationship pierces to the deepest part of me, and all the while the world’s gods taunt me that Christ is too narrow, too particular, that it’s not worth it — Lord, keep me yours.
Jesus is worthy to be our great love, and no less — a love we bend or break for none. Let God be true, though every loved one is false. Resolve now to sing to the end with Psalm 73:25–26,
Whom have I in heaven but you?And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.My flesh and my heart may fail,but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
By Devin Brown — 1 year ago
ABSTRACT: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were united through a common university (Oxford), a common writers’ group (the Inklings), and many common interests (mythology, philology, and theology). From the late 1920s on, their many similarities forged a friendship that would deeply influence both men and, through their writings, millions more. Without Lewis, Tolkien would never have finished Lord of the Rings; without Tolkien, Lewis may never have become a Christian and written Chronicles of Narnia. Their honest, faithful, realistic affection for each other tells the story of one of the world’s great literary friendships.
For our ongoing series of feature articles for pastors and Christian leaders, we asked Devin Brown, professor of English at Asbury University, to tell the story of the friendship between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
On December 3, 1929, C.S. Lewis began a letter to Arthur Greeves, his boyhood friend from Belfast. Having just turned 31 and in his fourth year as an Oxford don, Lewis described how he had gotten “into a whirl” as he always did near the end of the term.
“I was up till 2:30 on Monday,” Lewis wrote, “talking to the Anglo Saxon professor Tolkien who came with me to College from a society and sat discoursing of the gods and giants and Asgard for three hours, then departing in the wind and rain. . . . The fire was bright and the talk good.”1
This was Lewis pre-conversion and Tolkien before The Hobbit, two men virtually unknown outside their small circle at Oxford. Years later in The Four Loves, Lewis would note how great friendships can often be traced to the moment two people discover they have a common interest few others share — when each thinks, “You too? I thought I was the only one.”2 For Lewis and Tolkien, it was a shared interest in old stories.
Beginning of a Friendship
The two had met for the first time three and a half years earlier at an English faculty meeting. Not long afterward, Tolkien invited Lewis to join the Kolbitar, a group that met to read Icelandic sagas together. But Lewis’s suggestion that Tolkien come back to his rooms at Magdalen on that blustery December night marked a pivotal step in their friendship.
During their late-night discussion, Tolkien came to see that Lewis was one of those rare people who just might like the strange tales he had been working on since coming home from the war, stories he previously considered just a private hobby. And so, summoning up his courage, he lent Lewis a long, unfinished piece called “The Gest of Beren and Luthien.”
Several days later, Tolkien received a note with his friend’s reaction. “It is ages since I have had an evening of such delight,” Lewis reported.3 Besides its mythic value, Lewis praised the sense of reality he found in the work, a quality that would be typical of Tolkien’s writing.
At the end of Lewis’s note, he promised that detailed criticisms would follow, and they did — fourteen pages where Lewis praised a number of specific elements and pointed out what he saw as problems with others. Tolkien took heed of Lewis’s criticisms, but in a unique way. While accepting few specific suggestions, Tolkien rewrote almost every passage Lewis had problems with. Lewis would later say about Tolkien, “He has only two reactions to criticism: either he begins the whole work over again from the beginning or else takes no notice at all.”4
And so began one of the world’s great literary friendships.
‘Has Nobody Got Anything to Read Us?’
While millions worldwide have come to love and value Tolkien’s stories of Middle-earth, Lewis was the first. His response, exuberant praise as well as hammer-and-tongs criticism, would also be the pattern for their writing group, the Inklings. And this blend of encouragement and critique provided the perfect soil in which some of the most beloved works of the twentieth century would sprout.
The informal circle of friends would gather in Lewis’s rooms on Thursday nights. Lewis’s brother, Warnie, provides this description of what would happen next:
When half a dozen or so had arrived, tea would be produced, and then when pipes were alight Jack would say, “Well, has nobody got anything to read us?” Out would come a manuscript, and we would settle down to sit in judgement upon it — real, unbiased judgement, too, since we were no mutual admiration society: praise for good work was unstinted, but censure for bad work — or even not-so-good work — was often brutally frank.5
“While millions worldwide have come to love and value Tolkien’s stories of Middle-earth, Lewis was the first.”
Tolkien read sections of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Lewis read from The Problem of Pain, which he dedicated to the Inklings, as well as from The Screwtape Letters, which he dedicated to Tolkien. Other Lewis works debuted at Inklings meetings included Perelandra, That Hideous Strength, and The Great Divorce. Warnie read from The Splendid Century, his work about life under Louis XIV. Charles Williams read drafts of All Hallows’ Eve.
The Inklings were not without flaws. Rather than trying to help improve The Lord of the Rings, several simply disparaged it. Hugo Dyson was so negative that Tolkien finally chose not to read if he were present, saving his chapters for Lewis alone. A letter to Tolkien’s son Christopher in 1944 provides a window into what those private meetings were like, as Tolkien reports, “Read the last 2 chapters (“Shelob’s Lair” and “The Choices of Master Samwise”) to C.S.L. on Monday morning. He approved with unusual fervor, and was actually affected to tears by the last chapter.”6
Years later, Tolkien would describe the “unpayable debt” he owed Lewis, explaining, “Only from him did I ever get the idea that my ‘stuff’ could be more than a private hobby. But for his interest and unceasing eagerness for more I should never have brought The Lord of the Rings to a conclusion.”7
Without Lewis, there would be no Lord of the Rings. We might also say that without Tolkien there would be no Chronicles of Narnia, not because of Tolkien’s literary interest in them but for a different reason. Today we know Lewis as one of the greatest Christian writers of the twentieth century, but while it was clear from the start that Lewis would be a writer, it was not clear at all that he would become a Christian. Before his midlife conversion, he would need Tolkien to provide a missing piece.
In another letter to Arthur, this one dated September 22, 1931, Lewis tells about an evening conversation that would change his life. He explains that he had a weekend guest, Dyson, from Reading University. Tolkien joined them for supper, and afterward the three went for a walk.
“We began (in Addison’s walk just after dinner) on metaphor and myth,” Lewis writes. He then describes how they were interrupted by a rush of wind so unexpected they all held their breath. “We continued (in my room) on Christianity,” Lewis adds, “a good long satisfying talk in which I learned a lot.”8
What Lewis learned was critical. He had previously ended his disbelief and became a theist. As he states in Surprised by Joy, “In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”9 After this first step — with help from Christian friends and Christian authors like G.K. Chesterton, George Herbert, and George MacDonald — Lewis began the step that would lead to belief in Christ.
Lewis explained to Arthur that what had been holding him back was his inability to comprehend in what sense Christ’s life and death provided salvation to the world, except insofar as his example might help. What Dyson and Tolkien showed him was that understanding exactly how Christ’s death puts us right with God was not most important but believing that it did. They urged him to allow the story of Christ’s death and resurrection to work on him, as the other myths he loved did — with one tremendous difference: this one really happened.
Nine days after that special night on Addison’s Walk — during a ride to the zoo in the sidecar of Warnie’s motorbike — Lewis came to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Years later he stated, “Dyson and Tolkien were immediate human causes of my own conversion.”10
‘It Really Won’t Do’
Given Lewis’s encouragement of Tolkien and Tolkien’s role in Lewis’s acceptance of Christianity, we can say, in one sense, that without the other’s contribution, we would not have Narnia or Middle-earth. But only in one sense. For while Lewis appreciated Tolkien’s stories about Middle-earth, Tolkien did not like Lewis’s books about Narnia.
“We can say, in one sense, that without the other’s contribution, we would not have Narnia or Middle-earth.”
Perhaps too much is made of Tolkien’s dislike for Narnia, particularly since Tolkien seems never to have made that much of it. While there is a good deal of speculation on the reasons for Tolkien’s disapproval, this speculation is based on secondhand reports. In Green and Hooper’s biography, we have several vague, disapproving, private comments Tolkien made about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, such as, “It really won’t do, you know!”11
George Sayer, who knew both men personally, includes two paragraphs in his Lewis biography summarizing Tolkien’s objections but offering little in terms of direct quotes. In addition to their jumble of unrelated mythological elements, Sayer claims that Tolkien thought the Narnia stories showed signs of being “carelessly and superficially written.”12
In a letter to David Kolb, we have a brief instance where Tolkien directly expresses his opinion of Narnia as he states, “It is sad that ‘Narnia’ and all that part of C.S.L.’s work should remain outside the range of my sympathy.”13 Here we find the suggestion that Tolkien’s narrow tastes may have been part of the problem. We do know that when the Tolkiens’ granddaughter Joanna was staying with them and went looking for something to read, her grandfather directed her to the Narnia books on his bookshelf.
‘I Miss You Very Much’
As the two men grew older, they were less close — another aspect scholars sometimes make too much of. Evidence that they remained friends, though in a less intense and intimate way, is found in a number of places.
In the autumn of 1949, twelve years after first starting it, Tolkien finished typing a final copy of The Lord of the Rings. Lewis, now 50, was the first person to whom he lent the completed typescript. “I have drained the rich cup and satisfied a long thirst,” Lewis wrote on October 27, 1949, declaring it to be “almost unequalled in the whole range of narrative art known to me.” Recalling the many obstacles Tolkien had overcome, Lewis declared, “All the long years you have spent on it are justified.” Lewis closed the world’s first review of Tolkien’s masterpiece with the words “I miss you very much.”14
It took more years for Tolkien to secure a publisher. In November 1952, when he learned Allen & Unwin was willing to publish the long-awaited sequel to The Hobbit, Tolkien immediately wrote Lewis with the good news. Lewis wrote back with warm congratulations, noting the “sheer pleasure of looking forward to having the book to read and re-read.”15
In 1954, after Lewis had been passed over more than once for a chair at Oxford, Tolkien played a key role in Lewis being offered and then accepting Cambridge’s newly created Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Studies. And in 1961, less than three years before his death, Lewis was invited to nominate someone for the Nobel Prize in Literature and put forth Tolkien’s name.
In November of the following year, Tolkien wrote to Lewis inviting him to a dinner celebrating the publication of English and Medieval Studies Presented to J.R.R. Tolkien on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday — a collection to which Lewis had contributed an essay. Citing his deteriorating health, Lewis thanked him but graciously declined.
A few days before Christmas, Tolkien wrote again. We do not know the topic but do know that on Christmas Eve, 1962, Lewis wrote back thanking him for his “most kind letter.” Lewis closed by saying, “Is it still possible amid the ghastly racket of ‘Xmas’ to exchange greetings for the Feast of the Nativity? If so, mine, very warm, to both of you.”16 By the next Christmas, Lewis was gone.
Lewis died at home on November 22, 1963, a week shy of his 65th birthday. Shortly afterward, Tolkien wrote his son Michael about the loss. Although they had become less close, Tolkien stated, “We owed each a great debt to the other, and that tie with the deep affection that it begot, remains.”17 Here Tolkien, always careful with words, does not say that his tie and deep affection with Lewis remained all the way up until Lewis’s death, but that it remains. Presumably, it still does.
At the close of his biography, Alister McGrath seeks to explain Lewis’s enduring appeal, especially in America. McGrath proposes that by “engaging the mind, the feelings, and the imagination” of his readers, Lewis is able to extend and enrich their faith. Reading Lewis not only gives added power and depth to their commitment but also opens up a deeper vision of what Christianity is.18
I know this was true for me. Lewis was able to help extend and enrich my faith at a time when help was desperately needed. For those like me, Lewis’s books become lifelong companions, reminding us again and again of who we are and why we are here, seeing us through difficult times, and helping to shape and add meaning to our experience.
Tolkien wrote in his diary, “Friendship with Lewis compensates for much, and besides giving constant pleasure and comfort has done me much good.”19 Today, on the anniversary of Lewis’s birth, people all over the world, from all walks of life and stages in faith, would agree. Yes, it does. And yes, it has.
By Greg Morse — 12 months ago
Our generation is disconnected, not merely from one another but from the past. How many of us know our great-grandfathers’ names? Our great-great-grandfathers? We perch ourselves on the highest branch in the family tree and tend to be unconcerned with that below. Our gaze is upwards. Functionally, we are the great-grandsons and granddaughters of no one — physically or spiritually. We wander the world, rootless.
Because of it, we struggle with more sin than we should, have smaller faith than we might, blow in the cultural winds more than we would, and shrink back before opposition more than we ought. We do not keep before us of what people we come, and this hinders our endurance traveling home.
Or so thought the author of Hebrews.
To a church that started off so well but now limped dangerously along, he rides his horse up and down the frontline with a foreign war cry to Western ears: “We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Hebrews 10:39).
Bloodline as Battle Cry
Instead of writing, “You got this!” Hebrews roots them in a family history of those who, by faith, had already done it. The “Hall of Faith” is not a list of demigods who did what we cannot. They are forefathers and foremothers, painfully human and made strong in God, and their stories are recorded to motivate us toward the same perseverance.
Hebrews asks us if we remember how, by faith, Noah prepared the ark, or Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice to God, or Abraham went out, not knowing where he was going — and implies, You, in reliance upon the same God, can do likewise. Or, do you recall Sarah, who believed God’s word and conceived a child, or Moses, who by faith esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt? This is your lineage — these are your people. You, if you are a Christian, are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who live by unseen realities and preserve their souls.
He concludes the brief tour of theirs and our spiritual family history,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2)
Because these are our family members, because they surround us as we run, let us lay aside weights and sin and run with endurance looking to Jesus. Do you read the Old Testament this way?
Family of Faithful Witnesses
Such an experience should greet us every time we open our Bibles, whether in front or in back. Sixty-six books, Old and New, introduce us to spiritual fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters who stumbled as we do, but who finally conquered by faith as we hope to. We turn page after page and watch how they finished their race, how they kept the faith, how they overcame temptation, repented their failings, trusted, hoped for, and hungered for God in their trials and sufferings. Their lives captured in Scripture to encourage us — their spiritual descendants — to run, without reserve, as the King’s people to the King himself. In other words, we press on today because of both whom we come from and whom lies before us.
Do we think of the redeemed men and women this way? Job, Moses, Abraham, Sarah, David, Elijah, Rehab, Ruth, Jeremiah, Joshua, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego, Gideon, Hezekiah, Josiah — as family. If you serve the Living God, your God is the God of John, Paul, Andrew, Mary, Barnabas, the thief on the cross, Peter, Lazarus, the man born blind, Apollos, Timothy, Thomas, Pricilla and Aquilla, the formerly demon-possessed girl, the Philippian jailer, Cornelius, Philemon, Jude, James, Elizabeth — and on and on — each with different examples of Christ’s power to keep us by resilient faith.
We join this family of audacious ancestors through union to our brother, Jesus. “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7), and, “if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:29). Even if we suffer the loss of earthly ties because of allegiances to Christ, each of us has inherited a hundredfold — mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers along with eternal life in Christ (Matthew 19:29). For so goes the promise to our father Abraham, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. . . . So shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15:5).
Not of Those Who Shrink Back
Do not miss that this spiritual family is a holy family; like Father, like sons. Our family believes and lives and acts from belief in God and his promises. And this, the author of Hebrews thinks, is vital for us to consider.
So do you struggle with the glittering things of this world? Reintroduce yourself to your great uncle, Moses, who considered the reproaches of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt (Hebrews 11:26).
Does a Potiphar’s wife tempt you to an adulterous affair? Count yourself a descendant of Joseph who, by faith, fled, exclaiming, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9).
Do you feel God calling you to the great unknown? Remember Abraham. Do the promises of God feel inconceivable? Remember the story of Sarah. Do you feel pressure from an ungodly family to forsake Christ? Consider Rehab who, by faith, received the Israelite spies (Hebrews 11:31).
Does your confidence waver concerning whether God can overcome this present darkness? Consider afresh that kingdoms bowed, mouths of lions shut, justice reigned, fires quenched, children resurrected, swords broke, that the weak through faith were made strong, the fainting grew valiant, foreign armies fled, and leave instructions with Joseph that your bones` be buried in a land yet unconquered (Hebrews 11:22, 33–35).
And do you fear persecution might one day overwhelm your faith? Don’t forget your family members “of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38). These wandered the world as outcasts, waded through mocking, whippings, imprisonment, and brutal deaths, by faith, awaiting the resurrection of the dead (Hebrews 11:35–38).
Are you growing tired or neglectful or sluggish of hearing? God does not leave you to yourself as a lone twig to figure it out. He gives you a tree of Lebanon to belong to. Relearn your great grandfathers’ and grandmothers’ names. As you look fully to Christ, remember that “we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”