(These letters were written to a young Christian working on an exploratory rig some 200 miles out in the North Sea).
LETTER TO A YOUNG CHRISTIAN – No. 2
Knowing that you will be looking-out for a letter from me this week, I must attempt to put pen to paper this morning. Although I do not have anything special to tell you, I will write as promised in the hope that a few lines from me will reassure you that you are not forgotten by your brethren in B. F. I expect that there are times, while you are on the oil rig, when you feel far away from Christian fellowship, and tempted to conclude that your brethren have forgotten you or even abandoned you completely. I use the word “tempted” because this is what is really happening to Christians at such times. Satan, knowing the sensitive dispositions of some Christians, injects these doubts and fears into their minds, particularly when he sees them alone, and isolated for a while from all contact with other believers. In other words, these doubts are some of the “fiery darts” the devil hurls at the Lord’s spiritual soldiers, and can be dealt with only by “taking the shield of faith” (see Ephesians 6.16). Satan’s aim, in hurling these doubts at us, is twofold. Firstly, he wants the isolated Christian to become depressed through mistakenly concluding that his Christian friends are neglecting him or have actually finished with him. Secondly, he hopes that, by using his bellows on the smouldering dart, he will eventually induce the isolated Christian to have nothing more to do with his dearest friends in the Lord! Recognize, then, the source, nature, and aim of these doubts, and reject them as lies from him whom Christ once described as the “father” of lies (see John 8.44). Indeed, it is a sign that Christ has forged, and is intent on maintaining, a real bond between
His people that Satan labours so hard to break that spiritual union. Fear not, the Good Shepherd will not only preserve the individual sheep, but take pains to keep the flock together.
There is one other point I will make before closing this short letter. I sometimes think that Satan, having failed to separate Christian from Christian in the way I have just described, makes another attack on them using a rather different weapon. What he does this time is to encourage Christians to expect from their fellow believers what the Scriptures warrant us to expect only from Christ. The result of such ‘deification’ of our brethren is obvious. When our Christian friends disappoint us, let us down, or show their weaknesses in other ways, we tend to become very depressed, particularly if they fail us when we feel we needed them most. But the cause of our depression lies more with ourselves than with our erring brethren. Had we looked to Christ for the love, guidance, strength and understanding we needed in the time of trial, instead of looking to those who are no greater than ourselves, we should not have been disappointed. Value, then, the friendship of real believers, but beware of making ‘little idols’ of them, lest Satan, by exploiting your depression in times of disappointment, should gain an advantage over you. I would recommend you to read Jeremiah 17.5-8 and Psalm 146.3-10 in the light of these remarks.
Commending you to the care of the Son of God, who loved you and gave Himself for you, and will never fail you.
Yours sincerely, in His Name,
19th July, 1983