The Anchor of Hope (131)

Genesis 1:27  And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Psalms 139:13-15  For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb.  (14)  I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well.  (15)  My frame was not hidden from Thee, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.

Steve and Ruth, missionary friends we have known for over 35 years, came home on furlough.  They stopped by for a visit on their way for meetings in Charlotte.  They are parents of four children whom they raised while on the mission field in Nigeria.  Julie, their third child, is 32 years old.  She is so severely disabled that she cannot move or talk.  She is fed a baby bottle of formula eight times a day.  She is wholly dependant upon the care of her parents, primarily Ruth.  Apparently, Julie had caught a virus prior to her birth here in the US that had wrecked havoc on her development.  After intensely asking God for direction, Steve and Ruth believed they were still being led to Nigeria, and so they went.  And except for furloughs, they have been there for over 30 years.

The Shorter Catechism tells us that man’s chief end – his primary purpose for existence – is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  But how can someone so disabled as Julie even have a productive purpose in life, much less glorify God?  It was when I met Julie for the first time many years ago that I wondered about that thought, as I also struggled to see the image of God (the imago dei, for those theologically minded) in someone like her.

Let’s talk about Julie’s God-given purpose.  It was during our latest visit with Steve and Ruth that a sympathetic comment was made about Julie having been a burden to their ministry.  Steve was quick to point out that Julie, far from being a burden, had been a great help.  Having to care for her had softened their hearts to the pain and needs all around them in Nigeria.  Steve also told us that in the Nigerian culture, children with disabilities are viewed as a severe burden, and are therefore routinely murdered by their families, but done in such a way as to not draw unwanted attention from the authorities.  Thus by just being alive, Julie is an active witness in that culture.

How much simpler can it be?  She has taught her parents how to minister better.  Her life is a testimony to those around her.  She hasn’t needed to “do” anything in order to glorify God and thereby fulfill her purpose in life.  Life itself is her purpose, and to God’s glory.

I’m guessing that explanation puts many of us, who do not struggle with such physical and mental hindrances, to shame because we are not fulfilling our purpose in life nearly so completely as she.  While we must each deal with that issue, I do not wish to dwell upon our shortcomings in glorifying God.  I want to briefly look at the broader picture.

How many of us now would have considered abortion if we had found out that we were going to have a child in Julie’s condition?  In Steve and Ruth’s case, it would have been easy to rationalize.  The child would be a life long burden.  God had called them to a ministry overseas, and this child would appear to hinder that ministry.  Therefore, God must not want them to have that baby.  But using that logic would have also aborted the blessings and testimony given to her parents and a culture that does not value the image of God placed in every person.  Humanly speaking, the loss of that one life would have meant the depravation of God’s glory in this world.  Indeed, that fact is true of every life “untimely” taken.

We live in a culture where life is becoming increasingly cheap.  Abortion is an idol of the Progressive Left.  And for those who think I am being too strong here, consider this: a woman’s right to choose whether her child lives or dies trumps God’s creation and glory.  That thought is the very essence of idolatry.

Each person is made in the image of God and is created for a purpose – to give Him glory.  I don’t think we take that fact seriously enough as Christians.  If we did, there would be drastic changes in our culture.  For instance, did you know that over 638,000 abortions were performed in the US in 2015 (the last year recorded)?  That number means over 1800 children a day were sacrificed on the alter of choice! And did you know that Planned Parenthood performed almost half of those abortions?  Why is Planned Parenthood still supported with OUR tax money?   Why do the politicians in Washington and our state capitals promise they will do something about it, but still continue to vote for the funding of Planned Parenthood?  The Church has allowed God-haters to control the culture, the schools, the government, and even many of the denominations.  Why haven’t God’s people in America risen up and said, “NO MORE!”?

Part of the purpose of the Church is to influence and shape the world around it, thereby bringing glory to God.  This purpose has been part of mankind’s directive from the creation (Gen 1.28).  Salvation is only the beginning of a Christian’s path, not the end.  And an individual believer is not just a “Lone Ranger.”  We are part of a whole called the Church.  While we don’t lose our individuality when God takes us as His child, God wants us to begin thinking corporately, too (See for example 1Co 12.4-27 and Eph 4).

“And blessed be His glorious name forever; And may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen.”  (Psalms 72:19)  King Solomon did not just write those words as a hope toward heaven.  The entire Psalm is filled with requests for God to help the righteous in the here and now with the result, “May [God’s] name increase as long as the sun shines; And let men bless themselves by him; Let all nations call him blessed.”  (Psalms 72:17b) Solomon was calling for God’s kingdom to expand throughout the earth using God’s people in Israel as ground zero for the expansion.  Solomon was fully desiring those verses to be fulfilled in his lifetime.

We must repent of our slothfulness and complicity in the face of our culture’s many grave sins.  We have not been diligent as God’s people to press His Kingdom forward in our culture. America is coming under God’s judgment for such sins, and He will judge the Church first (1Pt 4.17).  For one thing, we need to get busy pressing our state and federal representatives to keep their election year promises concerning abortion.  Rely on the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5.22-23); in other words don’t be ungodly in your interactions with them, but accept no excuses.  Life is precious.  Each one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made by our Creator-Redeemer.  May His Kingdom come.  May His Will be done on EARTH as it is in Heaven.