DayBreaks for 3/29/17 – How We View the World

DayBreaks for 3/29/17: How We View the World

What is your general attitude toward the world you live in, towards life?  Do you generally see life as a trudge through the mud, or as an exciting and fulfilling adventure?  I know that there are days when we are overwhelmed one way or another, but as a general rule, how do you see the world and your life in it? 

You might not think that how you generally feel about the world is all that important.  After all, who does it affect but you, right?  Wrong.  I think that the way Christians (and others) feel about the world around us and our role in it makes a huge difference.  I was recently re-reading Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, and he described one event that occurred one dark, cold night in the Auschwitz concentration camp.  Frankl wrote: I shall never forget how I was roused one night by the groans of a fellow prisoner, who threw himself about in his sleep, obviously having a horrible nightmare.  Since I had always been especially sorry for people who suffered from fearful dreams or deliria, I wanted to wake the poor man.  Suddenly I drew back the hand which was ready to shake him, frightened at the thing I was about to do.  At that moment I became intensely conscious of the fact that no dream, no matter how horrible, could be as bad as the reality of the camp which surrounded us, and to which I was about to recall him.

I dare say that none of us have ever been in a situation as horrifying as Frankl.  He found himself in a horrible dilemma: do I compassionately awaken the man who was having such frightening nightmares, or would the reality of the world of the prison camp be even worse than the imagined world taking place in the mind of the dreamer?  What would I have done?  I don’t honestly know.  But I know this: my world is nowhere as terrifying as a concentration camp.  My life and world is really, all things considered, very pleasant and tolerable.  Even beautiful. 

But here’s my point for today: if I view my world as being a horrible thing, chances are that I won’t do anything to “wake people up” who may be sleeping their way through life.  But if I can learn to see the beauty of the life that God has given me, the beauty of God through His creation, I will be more likely to do what I can to help people who are sleeping to wake up and see the beauty of the life lived with the Lord.

The Presence of the Lord can turn the desert into a well-watered land.  Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.

PRAYER: Father, help us to see the truth about our lives.  We have hard times, but help us not to turn them into high drama that isn’t warranted.  May we see and experience the beauty of life lived in fellowship with You, and may we have the wisdom and courage to awaken the sleeper and help them see the glory of the Lord!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 7/20/16 – Where Was God in Auschwitz?

DayBreaks for 7/20/16 – Where Was God in Auschwitz?

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

I’ve read a lot in the past few years about the Jewish holocaust.  What a horrible and terrible chapter in the life of humanity!  One of the loudest questions of all time is asked about the Holocaust, and was echoed by Harold Schulweis in For Those Who Cannot Believe:  “The Holocaust mocks my faith.  For at the core of that faith is the conviction that God breathed into the nostrils of human beings an inviolable human soul, that God created the human being in His image and in His likeness.  The taunting dissonance between that faith and the facts of the Holocaust disturbs my belief.  The picture of a child hanged in the presence of parents in the concentration camp brings to mind a rabbinic commentary on the hanging of a criminal based on a verse in the book of Deuteronomy 21.23: A criminal sentenced to death and hanged must not remain overnight upon the tree because it is “a reproach to God.” Why a reproach to God?  The rabbinic answer is offered in the form of a parable: Once a noble king had a twin brother who violated the law and was hanged on a tree in the public square.  People passing by the corpse of the king’s twin took him to be the king and shouted, “Behold, the king is dead!”  The king was humiliated.  

The parable is breathtaking.  God and man, at some level, are as it were twins.  To deface the image of man is to blaspheme the Creator of that image.  God is not raised by lowering the human image…Who before the memory of cremated children can declare the twinship of God and man? …But where was the Adonai (the Lord) in Auschwitz?  Where was the power and mystique of Adonai within the hell of the Holocaust?”

“Where was Adonai in the Holocaust?  Adonai was in Niuvelande, a Dutch village in which 700 residents rescued 500 Jews, including 100 Jewish children.  Adonai was in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, whose citizens hid and protected 5000 Jews under the inspired leadership of Pastor Andre Trocme.  Adonai was in the rat-infested sewers of Lvov, where Polish sewer workers hid 17 Jews for 14 months.”  His list goes on, and he finally says: “Holocaust scholars now estimate that there were between 50,000 and 500,000 Christian rescuers.  Whatever the number, there were too few.  Sadly there are always too few moral heroes in history.”

“How ironic that our children … know the names of Klaus Barbie, Goebbels, Goering, Eichmann, Himmler and Hitler but not the names of those who risked their lives to hide and protect the Frank family….When the rescuers are asked “Why did you risk all this?” they typically respond “What else could I do?  What would you do?”

For today, let’s just ask ourselves the questions that Schulweis’ book asked: “That question places a mirror to my soul.  Would I open the door?  Would I hide this pursued pregnant woman?  Would I take care of her needs?  When rations during the war were so meager would I risk getting extra food without raising suspicion?   Would I take an infant into my home whose cries might reveal our hiding place?  What would I do with their refuse or with their bodies after their death?  Stefa Krakowska, a Polish peasant, hid 14 persons in her home, ranging from age 3 to age 60, in a home in which a simple pail served as the toilet.  When an older Jewish woman fell sick and knew herself to be dying, she turned to Stefa.  “My God, my dead body may bring disaster to you. What will you do with my body?” She feared for the others’ safety.  She died.  At night, secretly and in stages they buried her dismembered body in Stefa’s garden.” 

“Sadly, there are always too few moral heroes in history.”  What a haunting observation.  But there is good news, too. To be a moral hero you don’t have to be a king, wealthy, powerful or attractive.  What you do have to do is be faithful…and that’s something that any man or woman can choose to do.  You, and I, can be moral heroes for the cause of Christ.

I’m often afraid to speak out because God’s point of view isn’t popular.  As a group, Christians today lack the moral courage to speak, live and act on our convictions and on what we know to be truth.  Let’s be the moral heroes that this world so desperately needs and that God wants us to be.  Let it never be said that in our day there were no moral heroes.  Let us be those heroes to our friends, family, co-workers and even our enemies.

PRAYER:  Give us moral courage to follow You through life and death.  Let us, as we stand around the campfire when You are on trial in this world, not deny You, but let us speak Your name boldly, proudly, humbly.  Let us be the heroes You need us to be in our own day and age.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 10/26/12: A Journey to the Kingdom of Shame

DayBreaks for 10/26/12 – Journey to the Kingdom of Shame

Gas Chamber at Auschwitz

Today I’m going to do something I’ve never done before in DayBreaks.  I wrote a devotion very recently about Maxmillian Kolb, a priest who swapped places in the Nazi death-camps with a man who was a husband/father (link here).  In response to that devotion, today I received a response from a man in Finland who visited Auschwitz just this fall.  He said that it was a very moving experience and provided me with a link to a slide show/musical composition he’d made about Auschwitz and what he saw.

Today I want to share that link with you and share some thoughts.  To watch the video, go here: A Trip to the Kingdom of Shame.

As I watched the slide show, I was moved, as I always am, by scenes of suffering.  I never cease to be dismayed at the depths to which we humans can fall.  I don’t understand how people could look little children in the face as they march them into the gas chambers or watch them starve.  Is there no bottom to the darkness of the human heart?

I think it must be due to our failure to obey the greatest two commands.  If we love God, we will love what is made in His image.  If we love others as we love ourselves, we will not march them off to exterminate them like so many bugs.

Jesus would have cried out against such atrocities…and I’m sure he did during the Holocaust.  He would not have stood silently by and watched.  He will one day intervene with all the power that created the universe.  In this lies hope.  There will be justice.

But what of us?  It is far too easy to switch the channel when commercials asking for support come on the TV showing us faces of starving children.  It is as if we have constructed switches in our hearts that can be thrown as easily as a light switch: out-of-sight, out-of-mind.  Shame.  Shame on us.

God have mercy on our souls if we turn our faces away like the Nazi guards did.

I struggle with the thought that Jesus died even for those guards.  I tell myself that they don’t deserve it…and they don’t.  I am so angry that I don’t want them to benefit in any way from the mercy and grace of God.  But neither do I deserve his death for me.  I am at a loss.  Without words.

Have mercy on me, Lord Jesus!!!!

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT)

PRAYER: Lord, I repent in dust and ashes for my coldness of heart, for my lack of compassion and mercy for those who cry out for justice, begging for life.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 10/17/12 – Incredible Courage, Greater Love

DayBreaks for 10/17/12 – Incredible Courage, Greater Love

Maximilian Kolbe

Maximilian Kolbe was a truly amazing man.  Let me share his story with you:

During the WW2, Kolbe (a Catholic priest) provided shelter to refugees from Poland, including 2000 Jews that he hid from Nazi persecution.  Eventually, he was discovered and on February 17, 1941, he was arrested by the Gestapo and placed in prison.  On May 28 of 1941, he was sent to Auschwitz as prisoner 16670.

As 1941 came to an end, three prisoners vanished from the camp, prompting the deputy camp commander to select 10 men who would be starved to death in an underground bunker to dissuade further escape attempts.  One of the men, Franciszek Gajowniczek cried out, “My wife!  My children!”, Kolbe volunteered to take the man’s place.

In the underground bunker, Kolbe celebrated Mass each day and sang hymns with the prisoners.  He led the condemned men in song and prayer and encouraged them by talking to them about heaven.  Whenever the guards checked on him, he was standing or kneeling in the middle of the cell and looking calmly at those who entered. After three weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe remained alive. The guards wanted the bunker emptied and killed Kolbe with a lethal injection of carbolic acid.  Some who witnessed the injection say he raised his left arm and calmly waited for the injection.

Kolbe wrote: “No one in the world can change Truth. What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hecatombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?”

Blogger George David Byers said this as he contemplate the example of Kolbe: “A surviving witness—an inmate who had been called to act as translator—later reported that the Nazi guards marveled in wonder at Kolbe. Their ideology had taught them to strive to be godless “supermen,” defining themselves by the brute power with which they could subjugate others. In the naked, starving priest, the Nazis were stunned to discover a true man, one who could face death with a smile because he was dying not for hate, but for love.”

Would I have stepped forward to give my life for a stranger as Kolbe did?  Isn’t that the kind of love we are to have for others?  Kolbe followed the example of Jesus: laying down his life, not just for a friend, but for a total stranger.

PRAYER: Jesus, teach me to love!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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