Life Is Too Short to Be…

A few days ago, I ran across one of those sweet, “inspirational,” slightly sappy Facebook sayings that bug me for multiple reasons.

But, to spare you, I’ll focus on the main reason. At first it seems like a nice little message about avoiding negative people and investing in friendships that uplift you. Then it ends with–

Life is too short to be anything but happy.

Oh, really? You mean my personal happiness is the most important thing in the world? Let’s take this to its logical conclusion: If life is too short to be anything but happy, then my happiness is my first priority no matter who I have to crush to make myself happy.

No.

No, my happiness is not supposed to be my first priority. Jesus didn’t come to live on this inglorious planet among sinful people, and then die a ruthless, brutal death for those selfsame sinners, just so I could be happy on this earth.

Jesus came to give us much more. Blessings more rich, more lasting, more powerful than a mere feeling of happiness.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

-Ephesians 2:4-6 (emphasis mine)

We were dead because of our sins. Dead men walking, bound for hell. But Christ came to wash away our sin and set us free to live and sit together with Him in the heavenly places. That’s an awesome gift.

When you turn your life over to Jesus, He promises never to leave you. He offers peace, strength, and joy (not the same as happiness). But He also promises trials, pain, heartache.

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

-2 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV)

All you have to do is desire to follow Jesus and you’ll suffer persecution. Imagine what happens if you actually succeed!

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

-John 16:33 (emphasis mine)

Jesus never promised that lovely feeling of happiness. In fact, He promised the opposite.

But it is worth it to live for Jesus.

To serve Him on this earth. To speak with God unashamed. To rest in knowing our physical death will take us to Paradise. To have the comfort only our Creator can give when this life crushes us.

I guess those trite little “you need to be happy” mottoes frustrate me because they’re cheap. They cheapen the powerful grace of God. Yes, my life has been full of wonderful happiness, interspersed with very real pain. But who can tell whether the pain did not do me good?

God does give us happiness. But the truest joy, which transcends happiness, is found in knowing you are doing right, knowing you are completely at peace with your Creator. Watch out for sweet-sounding messages.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

-Colossians 2:8 (NKJV)

Life is too short to be anything but fully—and I meant utterly, nothing-held-back—surrendered to Jesus Christ, our Savior.

-Miss Darcy

The Land Is Filled with Blood

Our land is full of beauty,
of mountains, prairies, lakes;
dazzling grandeur and humbler beauties,
each lovely and beloved.
But the land
is marred
by blood.

We boast of education
for all,
no matter who they are,
or where they’re from,
or what they own.
We boast of equal opportunity,
a chance to mold your life
as you will choose.
But still flows silently,
ignored, or accepted,
a stream of innocent blood.

Beautiful homes, beautiful cars,
well-maintained roads,
electronics by tons,
clean water,
much food,
good shelter and warmth…
By other land’s standards
our poor are rich.
But our land
is filled
with blood.

We do not worship Molech,
burning our children
to death on his altars.
We revere education,
travel,
careers,
wealth,
convenience,
fame,
power; therefore,
we fill our land
with blood.

In unpretentious buildings
tiny humans die,
slain, defenseless,
unable to cry out.
And yet no legal crime is done.
No court will bind
the murderer.
No law will stop
this wrong.
How can we boast of greatness
in this land?
when mass murder is lawful,
provided those who die
are yet unborn.
Shame blackens our land.
Yet we do not weep,
Though the land
is filled
with innocent
blood.

-Miss Darcy

Warrior

I’ve wanted to write about this for a while, but I wasn’t ready. On Sunday the Lord renewed my strength (to use a bit of “Christianese”), and now I think I can write it.

The Christian life is war. (You’ve heard that, right? But until you realize it yourself, it doesn’t mean much.)

And we forget. We forget that our enemy walks about as a roaring lion, looking for anyone to devour. You leave one gate even slightly–slightly–unguarded, and he’ll come charging in.

Actually, “charging” isn’t his only tactic. He might slowly offer you something: a thought, a book, a movie. See if you take it.

“Why, yes, that looks interesting. I believe I’ll check it out.”

So he hands you more. And more. And pretty soon he’s kicked back in a recliner in your heart’s secret room, wreaking havoc, and you wonder how on earth you got so powerless. So fearful. So covered in guilt.

(Just take my word for it.)

He has a lot of weapons. And once he gets you down, even a little, he loves to pour on the guilt.

“You can’t take that to Jesus. Think how ashamed He’ll be of you. You’ve disgraced Him. How can you look Him in the face? You’re gonna have to fight this on your own.”

Of course, we can’t. But we try. And fail. Which invites more guilt. Until, even though we know we’re saved, our hearts can hardly believe it. Certainly, they can’t act on it.

But that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

We do not have to live in defeat. We do not have to let Satan lurk in our hidden rooms. We do not have to make friends with the thoughts he throws into our heads.

We do not have to be afraid to face Jesus.

In fact, going to Jesus is the only way we’re going to win. You have to fall on your face (metaphorically speaking; or physically, that’s okay, too) and lay your heart before Him. All of it. Because anything you try to handle on your own gives Satan potential. Satan is stronger than you. He’s not stronger than Jesus.

I’m not talking about getting saved. I’m talking about surrendering pieces of your life that you resumed control of, probably without realizing it. Give it back to Jesus.

I’m not particularly good at this.

By nature, I’m a passive person. And surrendering to Jesus is no passive act. It takes attention to jerk my own leash when I’m wandering off and say, “Darcy, get back here. Jesus didn’t say you could go down there.”

But I, for one, am sick of wishy-washy Christianity in my life. I’m sick of slipping and, instead of getting up, wailing over the fact that my enemy threw me in the mud again. I am a princess of the Kings of kings. I’m supposed to be a warrior-princess, not a mousy-timid princess.

I can only be a warrior-princess if I stick close to the Commander of the army, the Crown Prince himself. Yes, He is merciful with my mistakes. (If He wasn’t, I’d have to drop my sword right now.) But He is also encouraging, bold, fearless. He gives me His own power and expects me to stand up and use it according to His battle plans.

Like I said, I’m not especially good at this. But, oh, I’m going to try.

I want to be a warrior.

-Miss Darcy

 

High Standards

(Forgive me if this post reads more like a rant. I guess it’s a subject that hits close to home for me, so maybe more passion came out that usual.)

It’s a funny thing: whenever you set high standards for yourself, other people automatically assume you expect the same standards of them.

How do I know this? Personal experience. (smile)

But it’s a faulty assumption. My holding to a standard in no way condemns you. If God has convicted me in a particular area, that doesn’t mean I’m projecting that conviction onto you. It doesn’t mean I can’t be friends with you.

And, to wade into deeper waters, even if I hold to a principle which applies to all people (say, whether abortion is a moral wrong), that doesn’t mean I hate people who disagree with me. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about them or even that I won’t be friends with someone who flouts that principle.

The high standards God gives us in the Bible are for all His children.

So when the Lord reveals them to me, one by one, I intend to follow them as best I possibly can.

Did you catch that “one by one”? It takes time–a whole lifetime, probably, and then some–to discover every standard. I may find one principle today that you may not find until next year. That’s okay. You’ll find some before me, too. (If we keep looking, of course.)

It’s good to be patient with one another.

But…

(You knew that was coming, right?) Suppose the Lord convicts me about, oh, say, making pure entertainment choices. And further suppose that the Lord lays a specific boundary on my heart, say, no movies rated over G. (This is purely hypothetical, mind you.)

Just because you don’t hold the same standard does not mean I should drop it. I can hold my standard without judging you. Even if I secretly think that all Christians should hold this standard, I am not necessarily judging you.

Granted, you don’t know my heart. I might be self-righteously condemning you as less spiritually astute. Or I might realize that I have just as far to go toward holiness as you, only in different areas, and I might never give another thought to it. You don’t know.

But if you ask me to see a PG movie with you, it’s okay for me to say, “Thank  you so much for the invite, but I never see movies rated over G.”

Then it’s up to you how you take it.

This specific example is, I repeat, purely hypothetical, but the point remains.

Brothers and sisters, hold fast the standards God lays upon your hearts. Don’t be ashamed of them. If anyone asks why, then tell them. Otherwise, you may never need to speak. Just quietly, boldly shine. If your standard convicts someone, then may God use it to glorify Him.

And don’t automatically assume someone who holds a different standard is judging you. That standard may be so ingrained by now that they rarely think about it. (Believe me, it’s possible.) Don’t condemn them because you think they are condemning you when they have never said a word to indicate so.

Sometimes, it is okay to argue for a standard, even at the expense of losing friends. If you listen to the Holy Spirit, He’ll tell you when to speak and when to hush.

If the Lord ever blesses me with children, you can believe I’ll try to teach them the standards God has taught me. I “preach” standards to my younger sisters. I might even get specific with standards on this weblog because no one has to read it who doesn’t want to. But to my friends, I usually won’t speak unless they ask, in which case I’ll be happy to explain.

The Bible does tell us not to judge (Matthew 7:1), meaning do not condemn. After all, we’re not God. We have no authority to condemn. (Although, wouldn’t you rather be condemned by a person who has no real power than by the Almighty God? I digress.)

But the Bible also advocates clinging to the pure standards of Christ and striving daily to conform ourselves even more to His likeness.

Whether anyone else likes it or not.

-Miss Darcy

Dreaming of . . . Motherhood?

I don’t often turn my heart inside out on my weblog, but others have handled this topic so well theologically that I have nothing to add in that corner. So here’s my two cents.

I say my dream is to become a published author, and it is. If you get to know me better, you might uncover other things I daydream about, too. But the dream that burrows deepest, the dream for which I would sacrifice all the others, is the dream of being a wife and mother.

Yes, a mother.

When people find out that I want to be the mother of as many children as the LORD sees fit to give me, I get all kinds of surprised reactions.

“Whew, girl, you sure you know what you’re asking for?” Well, I’ve had the privilege of baby-sitting six–how shall I say?–highly energetic kids. Believe me, I’ve seen some chaos.

“You’re a brave girl.” Their sky-high eyebrows translate brave into crazy.

“Oh, that’s . . . interesting.” I can tell by their face that they want to say, “But don’t you have any other, bigger plans?”

Well, no, I can dream of nothing grander than the position of wife, mother, and teacher of my children.

Nothing grander than “losing my figure” to bring a new life into this world.

Nothing grander that wearing shadows under my eyes and a mouth that constantly yawns because my baby thinks nighttime is playtime.

Nothing grander than tripping over toys that we didn’t have time to put away yesterday.

Nothing grander than endless kitchen cleanup and endless loads of laundry.

Nothing grander than losing sleep to tend a child who has caught the latest “stomach bug” going around. (Yes, I’ve already done this once, so I have a touch of experience with the reality of it.)

Nothing grander than pulling my hair out trying to teach my first-grader to read.

Nothing grander than old cars and ancient furniture, if necessary, so I can afford curricula for my children’s home education.

Nothing grander that squeezing ten kids into a three-bedroom house. (If I get that many. Whenever I say “as many children as the LORD gives me,” people automatically assume around twelve or fifteen. But my own mother had only three children when she would have gladly had more.)

Nothing grander than hearing “Mommy” a thousand times a day.

Nothing grander than leading souls from birth toward the Lord Jesus Christ.

Nothing grander than bedtime prayers, silly songs on car rides, and hugs and kisses just because.

Nothing grander than shaping upright citizens for this country.

Nothing grander than fretting and praying and praying some more as I try to guide young lives to their full potential for their Creator.

Nothing grander than growing wrinkled and gray-haired as I pour myself out for these lives the LORD might give me.

No, I can’t imagine anything grander.

Of course, I can’t chase this dream the way I would normally chase a dream because a girl needs to wed before she becomes a mother. And a girl who goes around chasing a husband isn’t particularly likely to get the kind of marriage she wants. So I wait and pursue other dreams, trying to follow my Lord in my everyday life now.

Maybe you dream of becoming the kind of politician that will help turn this country around. (Heaven knows we need it.) Or finding an out-and-out cure for, say, malaria. (The whole world would find that useful.) Or being part of the manned mission to Mars. (Maybe you can finally convince evolutionists that they’ll not find extra-terrestrial life. Maybe.)

I’m not criticizing your dream.

I’m saying that, honest-truly, motherhood is my loftiest dream. And that should be okay. After all, God sent His Son not as a full-grown Man, but as a Child. In the care of a mother. He wanted Jesus to grow up the way all people do, starting as a single cell in the womb of a mother.

So the next time a girl, little or not-so-little, dares to admit that she wants to be a mother, don’t belittle her. Don’t mock her dream because it doesn’t hold the same value to you. The world does need good mothers, after all.

And I will do my best to smile at others’ consternation when they discover I want to be “merely” a mother.

-Miss Darcy

By This All Will Know

The movie, God’s Not Dead 2, made me think, which is something I value highly in a piece of entertainment. So perhaps you all will forgive another meditation sparked by the movie.

As we talked over the film after viewing it, my sister said, “One thing I find unrealistic is how much support the main character got from other Christians.”

Unfortunately, I think she has a point. If we knew of a brother or sister in Christ who was on trial for a faith-related situation, would we go out and hold up signs? Would we go to their door to offer what little encouragement we could? Would we kneel for even fifteen minutes to lift their predicament before the Lord God?

Well, would we? Likely as not, we wouldn’t.

We get so petty in Christianity. Just because that person doesn’t share the exact same doctrine, we refuse to support them or their ministry. Take the movie itself, God’s Not Dead 2. There are quite a few Christians who tear the movie to shreds for one reason or another. And sure, maybe some of their objections are valid. I could complain about one thing right this minute.

But I won’t.

Because we can be such Pharisees. We find a subject where the Lord convicts us, and we mock others who have yet to be convicted in the same area. We cling for dear life to our traditions, scorning others, when maybe we have it right, and maybe they have it right.

Yes, holy living is important. Yes, we should display excellence in all we do, that God may receive glory. Yes, correct doctrine is important. Yes, the little details matter to God.

But what did Jesus tell the Pharisees?

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

-Matthew 23:23 (NKJV)

The Pharisees got all the little stuff right, and Jesus said they ought not to leave them undone. But Jesus scolded them for skipping the more important matters.

Justice. Mercy. Faith.

If you and I both believe that Jesus alone, the only Son of God, is the way to salvation, then we can work together for Christ. I understand that there are certain false doctrines which may exclude someone from unity with God’s people, but those are big things. Most of the stuff we quibble about isn’t as big as we think it is.

  • If that person believes in infant baptism and you don’t, it doesn’t automatically mean you aren’t both followers of Christ.
  • If you believe the gifts of the Spirit have ceased and that person doesn’t, that doesn’t preclude you from working together.
  • If that person believes women should wear dresses and head-coverings and you don’t, you can still team up to win souls for Christ.
  • If a brother believes in Gap-Theory Creation and you’re a literal six-day-week believer, well, I think the Gap Theory is dangerous. But it doesn’t mean that person is lost.
  • And if that person expects a pre-Tribulation rapture and you expect post-Trib, that doesn’t mean one of you is unsaved.

We get things mixed up. What matters is that all have sinned and deserve Hell (justice), but Jesus has come to deliver us from both sin’s punishment and sin’s power while we live (mercy). And all we have to do is take God at His Word and rely on Him (faith).

If we go around neglecting the things God calls important, then we can just hush about the littler things.

(Pause while I recover from the slap that sentence gave me.)

Jesus said that our good works ought to push people to glorify our Father in heaven (see Matthew 5:16). But it is something else that identifies us as Jesus’ disciples.

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

-John 13:35 (NKJV)

Love for one another.

Not good works, although we should do them. Not our words, although they should be both gracious and true. Not specifically love for the lost, although we should have that.

But love for one another brands us as belonging to Jesus.

So a Christian film doesn’t meet your expectations. I understand your concerns–believe me, I have many of my own, and I may voice them gently. But what’s the point of slandering the movie makers ruthlessly on the Internet?  What does it accomplish other than making Christians look like back-stabbers? (After all, non-Christians can’t understand our detailed differences.)

If a brother differs from you in his doctrine, but he still believes Jesus is the only way, why not join him in his outreach ministry? He’s trying to save souls! Can you not at least support him in prayer?

If a brother is struggling or suffering, why can’t you support him with your words, prayers, and actions? Even if he differs with you on some point in the Bible.

I think our quarrels must grieve Jesus almost as much as the lost souls who enter eternity every day. After all, He prayed for us to be united.

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

-John 17:20-21 (NKJV)

“That they may be one in Us.”

Why?

“That the world may believe that You sent Me.”

Brothers and sisters, our divisive behavior discredits the Gospel of Christ.

How can we do such a thing? How can we refuse to set aside our differences when they hinder the very message we want to spread? How can we be so self-centered?

How can I be so thoughtless?

-Miss Darcy

 

Come Out From Among Them

Last Sunday, my church showed God’s Not Dead 2. I enjoyed it; I found it encouraging; and I found it decidedly challenging.

So the next day, I was nosing around on the Internet to see if they planned a third movie. And I ran across an article that basically bashed God’s Not Dead 2. Now I suppose from a critical standpoint, a person could find all kinds of things to complain about. But one complaint in their article stood out to me.

They said the movie was only for evangelical Christians. That by all other standards it was a flop.

These (unashamedly biased) reviewers went on to say that evangelical Christians are always drowning in the big pool of modern entertainment and modern education. So we go out and make our own movie companies, our own publishing companies, our own colleges to serve this little clique of evangelical Christians.

They said it like it’s a bad thing.

But what does God say?

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?

-2 Corinthians 6:14-15 (NKJV)

This verse is often quoted in regard to marriage, and it certainly applies there. But the context doesn’t mention marriage at all. It’s simply about keeping away from the world.

What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? None whatsoever. They’re opposites by definition.

What communion has light with darkness? None at all. They don’t meld. They compete. Go flip a light switch in a dark room and watch.

What accord has Christ with Belial? Not the slightest. They are always at war.

So what part has a believer with an unbeliever? Fundamentally, nothing.

And before you write me off as saying we should never speak to a non-Christian, that is not what I’m saying. I’m saying our closest friends ought not be unbelievers. The ones we look to for approval ought not be unbelievers. The ones we measure ourselves by ought not be unbelievers.

Because a Christian is redeemed by the Lord Jesus and belongs to Him. We recognize that He has a right to command us, and we follow Him. We know that this life ultimately will end and only what lasts for eternity really matters.

That flies straight into the headwind of this world’s ideals.

So though I may have many things in common with an unbeliever; I may genuinely respect him; I may enjoy his company once in a while; when it comes to our foundations, we are fundamentally different.

And I cannot, I dare not, compromise.

I’m a writer, and the writing industry is full of do‘s and don’t‘s, requirements for this, and guidelines for that. Many of them are extremely useful. But when it comes down to the root of the matter, my writing must please God. If it dishonors Him or displeases Him, then I have failed, no matter how well it sells. On the flip side, if it barely sells at all but I have satisfied my Lord, then I have succeeded where it really counts.

It’s okay for Christians to hold to their own standards, perfectly independent of the world. Because the Christian worldview is fundamentally separate from any other worldview.

Therefore

“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the LORD Almighty.”

-2 Corinthians 6: 17-18 (NKJV)

On a fundamental level, God’s Not Dead 2 is a film primarily targeted at Christian viewers. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

God calls us to be totally separate from the world.

It seems to me that applies especially in our choices of entertainment.

-Miss Darcy

Religions and Transgender

It’s a constant hot topic these days, this practice of transgender.  Basically it seems to mean that a person who is biologically male decides he doesn’t “feel” male, doesn’t “identify as” male, so he determines to act like a female.  Or vice-versa: a biological female decides she “feels” like a male, and determines to act like one. Perhaps these people might even go so far as to  have surgeries to make them look like the gender they want to be, though they can never alter their DNA.

This poses philosophical problems, depending on the religion or worldview the person holds. 

We’ll start with atheism.

“But atheism is not a religion,” someone objects.  Ah, but it is a worldview based on what you choose to believe.  “I believe facts,” the atheist insists.  Very well, but you still have to believe them, which makes it a belief system and, therefore, a worldview.

Now atheism is actually inconsistent with being transgender.

“That’s ridiculous. Only religious laws oppose transgender.”

I’m not talking about forbidding it.  I’m talking about a logical inconsistency.  Atheism holds with no God, no supernatural, no spirit, nothing that makes a person different from an animal.  All science is based on what you can see and test.  Therefore, gender is determined by biology:  that 23rd pair of chromosomes is either XX or XY.  You can’t monkey with it.

But a person says he or she identifies as the opposite gender their chromosomes code for.  They just don’t feel like the gender they were born to.  Which means something abstract, supernatural, or spiritual is producing this feeling.  It must be a spirit (we’ll call it a “soul”) that is defying biology and identifying as the opposite gender.  This soul must have come from somewhere, and it’s acting on its own, against science.

But atheism denounces God and the human soul.  Atheism contradicts the idea of transgender.

So we must find a different worldview to support transgender practices.  We’d better look at some others.

How about Buddhism?

Actually, this one has some problems, too.  The foundation of Buddhism is eliminating suffering.  According to Buddha, suffering is eliminated by eliminating personal desire.  Which brings us to our conflict.

If a person’s soul desires to be transgender, then how can he/she justify that desire using a belief system that requires the elimination of all desire?

Buddhism cannot support the idea of transgender.

And Islam? 

According to the Quran, the Muslim holy book, homosexuality is a crime to be punished by death. 

It seems that Islam doesn’t uphold transgender either.

How about Christianity?  Lots of Christians say that if you interpret the Bible correctly, changing your gender is not a sin.  “After all,” they say, “God wants us to be happy.”

But take a look at the implications.  As a Christian, you must believe that an all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly flawless God created you– your body and your soul.  As as transgender person, you (basically) believe that you have a soul of one gender trapped in the body of the opposite gender. 

To be a Christian transgender person, you must believe that God made a mistake.  He put your soul in the wrong body.

Sounds a bit prideful, doesn’t it?

But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God?  Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?”

-Romans 9:20 (NKJV)

Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; though they join forces, none will go unpunished.

-Proverbs 16:5 (NKJV)

As a Christian, you cannot be transgender.  Else you say by your actions that God is a fool who cannot even put the right soul in the right body without the person’s help.

Beyond the rules and commandments, which people twist for their own devices, simple logic of fundamentals brings us to this conclusion:  you cannot worship the God of the Bible while declaring Him to be mistaken in the way He made you.

Christianity and transgender are incompatible.

I haven’t looked into Hinduism to see what it says about homosexuality and transgender. You might check that out.  Keeping track of all those gods seems difficult.  You might try New Age, which is simply Hinduism and other Eastern religions repackaged for Westerners (according to Ravi Zacharias, a former Hindu who is now a Christian).

Or you can always worship yourself.  He/she will never contradict what you desire to do.

Personally, myself is too small a god for me to worship.

-Miss Darcy

Preferring Pigs and Puppies

It’s been several years since I read Patricia St. John’s The Runaway, but one scene stuck with me clearly. The protagonist of the story met and talked with the Gadarene demoniac whom Jesus set free from Satan’s power. Matthew 8, Mark 5, and Luke 8 tell us this man’s story.

This man had been possessed by evil spirits, apparently for years. No one could tame him. He had often been bound with chains, but he broke the shackles in pieces and escaped. He spent his life in the tombs and in the mountains, crying out in anguish and cutting himself with stones. The gospel of Matthew tells us that this man had a companion like himself, and they were so fierce that no one could pass by their haunts safely.

One day, right after Jesus had calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus came to the land of the Gadarenes.  And these two men ran to Him, desperate to be freed. They had had their fill of playing with the darkness and found it was more likely to control them. And being on such intimate terms with evil, they also knew the Light when they saw Him. So they ran to Jesus and worshiped Him.

Then the demons used the men’s voices to cry loudly, begging Jesus not to torment them before their time. Jesus asked the demon his name. The evil spirit answered, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” Legion pleaded with Jesus not to cast him out of the country, but to let him go possess a herd of swine feeding nearby. About two thousand pigs composed this herd.

And Jesus said, “Go.”

When the pigs found demons inside them, they ran violently off a cliff and drowned in the sea. But the demon-possessed men were healed.

The swineherds, shocked and horrified, tore off to the town and told everyone what had happened. Practically the whole city turned out to see this Man who had made sane a demoniac and killed a herd of pigs in the process. They found the former madman sitting at Jesus’ feet, clothed, quiet, and sound in his mind. (His companion is not mentioned further; perhaps he had returned to his own town elsewhere to tell his family.)

But the countrymen of this man who had been freed did not rejoice with him. They marveled, but they begged Jesus to leave their region. After all, he had just cost them 2,000 pigs, which doubtless meant a serious financial loss. The man who had been demon-possessed wanted to be with Jesus, but the Lord told him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”

So the man traveled all around his land, proclaiming what Jesus had done. But in the story, The Runaway, the man says that although he keeps telling people and they always marvel, “They still prefer their pigs.”

It does make you feel a little sorry for the pigs. They didn’t do anything. They were minding their own business, eating, when suddenly something of horrid, unimaginable evil entered them, filling them with terror. So they ran and drowned themselves.

And yet Jesus, knowing full well what would happen to those pigs, didn’t hesitate. At once, he permitted those unclean spirits to enter the swine.

Two thousand pigs were worth one man’s soul.

In our country, pigs aren’t so important. But puppies are.

I read a story in a magazine about a dachshund who had belonged to someone with a hoarding disorder. The dog had been fed so much junk food that he became horribly overweight. He couldn’t even walk out of the house. A young woman rescued him, and with careful diet and exercise, he regained a normal healthy weight. Unfortunately, he still had so much loose skin that he tripped on it. Unless she could come up with the hundreds of dollars necessary for plastic surgery, the dog would have to be put down.

So she did fundraisers. And people gave gladly. It was a sweet story of a cute dog getting a second chance.

But it made me think. People, Christian people, are so eager to give to animal shelters–but not so many homeless shelters.

Christians eagerly volunteer at pet rescue centers–but not so much at crisis pregnancy centers and soup kitchens.

People are so excited to see an animal get “a new leash on life”–but not much to see a poor man in India give up alcohol for a decent life.

Christians are concerned with the restoration of endangered species and protection of their habitats–but not so much with the restoration of lives destroyed by drugs and relationships split by pornography.

Do you know what could be done with the hundreds of dollars, about $800 if I recall correctly, that was spent on that little dachshund’s surgery?

  • A child in a third-world country could receive food, clothes, and education for almost two years.
  • Or twenty-six families could have a filter to clean their water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.
  • Or at least six families in India could have a new vocation to make a good living and send their own kids to school.
  • Or over four hundred homeless people in the United States could receive a meal and warm shelter this winter.
  • Or dozens of girls could hear that they and their unplanned babies are valuable.

We could do so much for our fellow man. But sometimes we prefer our puppies.

Mind you, the Bible is clear that neglect or abuse of the animals in our care is wrong. Way back in Genesis, God gave mankind dominion over the whole earth and everything that lives in it. We are responsible to make wise decisions for our domain.

But when it comes down to the foundation of things, an animal is just an animal. It is expendable if a human being is at stake. And Jesus sacrificed two thousand—2,000!—animals for two human souls. To Him, the Creator of both humans and animals, it was worth it.

Perspective is paramount. People first, always.

I’m not saying that a Christian cannot in good conscience give some money to help an animal like the dachshund. But if you would skip giving to the quadriplegic who needs a new wheelchair, and still give to the poor little dachshund, you might need to reevaluate. Or, if your heart bleeds for the animal that died needlessly, but not for the mothers who die of superstitious midwifery in Asia, you may need to ask Jesus to search your heart.

-Miss Darcy

The Small Room

He had never seen anything beyond the walls of his tiny chamber.  He didn’t have much room to move, and all was darkness. Tubes which supplied his air and food connected him to the wall; he knew not where they went. The small room had one door, tightly sealed, and he couldn’t recall it ever opening.

He was completely dependent on those tubes, but he was content.  He was young yet, and sometime perhaps he would grow strong enough to find what lay on the other side of the door.

One day the door opened, letting in a shaft of light.  An enormous shiny thing entered.  It moved forward steadily and poked him, which hurt. Puzzled, he backed away; the Thing followed him.  He twisted to the side, but the Thing pursued him. It touched him again, and gave a sharp pain.

He scrambled into the corner farthest from the door, the Thing driving relentlessly after him.  Backed against the wall with nowhere to go, he tried to watch the Thing in the uncertain light.

The Thing thrust forward, and he felt excruciating pain.  He had never experienced pain before.  He looked down to see half of his leg lying on the floor, blood pouring from what remained.

Shocked, he tried to worm farther away.  But the Thing pushed on and took off one of his arms.  The pain was overwhelming.  Blood gushed out of his body, running across the floor and out the door.  He didn’t know what to do.  Where could he escape?

Then the Thing moved away, upward.  In an instant it severed the tubes that brought his life support.  He was left gasping, his body desperate for oxygen in the face of his wounds.  He couldn’t breathe.  His new world of blood, pain, and light swam around that merciless, sharp, shiny Thing.

The pain began to numb as his cells died from lack of oxygen.  Darkness crept over his consciousness, hiding the Thing.  Maybe his life was returning to normal after all.  The pain disappeared.  He couldn’t see the light.

The last thing he remembered–perhaps he heard it or sensed it–was weeping.  Someone weeping.

This room–was it of death or of life?  It was called his mother’s womb.

-Miss Darcy

P.S.  I would be utterly remiss if, after telling this story, I failed to tell of the hope that may follow such tragedy.  If any woman reading this should recognize her womb as sometime being “the small room,” she may know for certain that Jesus has her baby now, secure in His care.  Nor does God hate her.  It is indeed wrong to take a baby’s life in the womb, just as it is wrong to kill a grown person in cold blood, but for all sin Jesus offers forgiveness.  “For God did not send His Son into the world to bring condemnation, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17)  No matter what the sin, Jesus’ blood can carry it far away from you, “as far as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12)  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)  His love is the kind that never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8)