Thursday, June 14, 2007
We're halfway through June, and at this time last year I'd made a huge dent in my summer reading. But this year, I've finished only one book so far -- the often recommended title about the persecuted church: Safely Home by Randy Alcorn. My friend Christen has been suggesting I read this book for about a year and a half. I admit, I put it off a little bit because I am not a huge fan of Christian fiction (I know -- that sounds so snobby! I'm sorry!) and also because for whatever reason I could not get it out of my head that this book has nothing whatsoever to do with baseball! Chris, if you are reading this before you go to Brazil, I want to thank you so much for making me borrow it before we parted ways in December. It was really good -- you were right.
I liked Safely Home for two reasons: it contained quite a bit of history -- both of the persecuted church in China and of China itself -- and I liked the C.S. Lewis-like descriptions of heaven and the last things (seriously, did Randy Alcorn finish reading The Last Battle right before he wrote this book?). Learning about Christians in other countries is fascinating to me, and this book was so inspiring as I read about the tremendous faith of these persecuted brothers and sisters. It amazed me that as I read about the brutal treatment of Christians described in the book, I became less afraid of my own personal suffering. In fact, I began to see how we share in Christ's suffering through what we ourselves endure, and thus relate to Him in a more intimate way. The author did a fantastic job of focusing on persecution with a lens that sees through that and into the delights of eternity. It would be easy to write a book about how horrible things were so that American Christians could sympathize, but what a far better goal to write not only how horrible it really is, but also how worth it this light affliction will be in eternity. That is because He Who Holds up the Sky sits with you in the cell, His presence more real than the filth around you.