No, I haven’t gone into denial about my age. I refer to my spiritual birthday. Thirty-eight years ago today, by God’s grace, I trusted in Jesus Christ. Due to His keeping/preserving power I have never looked back in my walk with Him.
Each year on this significant date in my journey I reflect in some way on what God has done and where He has me in my pilgrimage toward the celestial city.
Uzbekistan’s government relentlessly persecutes the Church. Dynamic and evangelism-oriented churches, especially Uzbek churches, are particularly targeted. Uzbek Christian leaders have extensive files on them compiled by the 14 different government agencies that monitor religious activity. Persecution tactics include: public humiliation, property seizure, book and Bible-burning, expulsion of Christian students, dismissal of Christian employees, arrests (followed by beating and torture) under the flimsiest of pretexts and massive fines for first offences [sic] (up to 50 times the annual salary), (p. 874).
Upon reading that I wondered, What if God in His sovereignty had determined that I should have lived out my days in a place like that? He could well have. Acts 17:26 teaches us this truth: And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.
I found myself filled with gratitude for His kindness in putting me in a place like the US where free and abundant access to the gospel is more than not the norm.
From there I went to my reading in J. C. Ryle’s Holiness with this confirming thought:
How thankful we ought to be that we live in a land where the great remedy for spiritual thirst is known, in a land of open Bibles, preached gospel, and abundant means of grace, in a land where the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice is still proclaimed, with more or less fullness, in twenty thousand pulpits every Sunday! We do not realize the value of our privileges. The very familiarity of the manna makes us think little of it, just as Israel loathed ‘the light bread’ in the wilderness (Num. 21:5). But turn to the pages of a heathen philosopher like the incomparable Plato, and see how he groped after light like one blindfolded, and wearied himself to find the door. . . . Turn to the accounts which trustworthy travelers and missionaries give of the state of the heathen who have never heard the gospel. Read of the human sacrifices in Africa, and the ghastly self–imposed tortures of the devotees of Hindostan, and remember they are all the result of an unquenched thirst and a blind and unsatisfied desire to get near to God. And then learn to be thankful that your lot is cast in a land like your own. Alas, I fear God has a controversy with us for our unthankfulness!
I have no wish for a controversy with God over anything. I am indeed thankful that my lot is cast in a land like our own.