Leave them…

by DanWolgemuth on January 22, 2021

A week from Saturday I will walk up to a virtual podium and deliver what will likely be my last official sermon to the broadest YFC USA family as the President of the organization. Like a weighted blanket, the topic and reality have rested on me… not in a suffocating way, but as a righteous burden. A heavy comfort. A sacred trust.

And as I have prayed about the words to say, and the message to convey, I have been drawn to the ultimate final prayer. A timeless, boundless reminder of what we should be praying for ourselves, and our community.

The summary of this prayer often focuses, appropriately so, on a call to unity. But nestled in the cosmic call to unite, is a pointed and unlikely request. Against an agenda of hate and division Jesus speaks His plea…

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. (John 17:15, ESV)

Against the backdrop of Roman oppression. In the middle of religious abuse. Surrounded by tentative supporters and tenacious critics… Jesus asks His Father to keep His followers in the middle of the mess.

Don’t remove them, imbed them. Don’t seclude them, implant them. Wheat and weeds growing side by side. Light confronting the darkness. Justice calling out injustice. Love invading the margins. The weak with an advocate. The poor with resources. The lost with a pursuer. The self-righteous surrounded by humility. The impotent empowered.

Don’t take them out. Leave them. Not as victims. Not as sitting ducks. But followers with power. Followers on mission. Followers with a story to tell.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Power to remain. Witnesses. Truth tellers. Love givers. Light shiners. Miracle workers. Difference makers. Trustworthy ambassadors. Selfless servants. Passionate messengers. Good news carriers. Compassion deliverers. Hatred extinguishers. Justice defenders.

Advocates for the defenseless.
Amplifiers for the speechless.
Ambassadors for the alien.
Articulating hope.

“Leave them.” Not behind, but in the middle. Not as orphans, but as daughters and sons. Not as citizens, but as exiles.

Here. Now.

To do His work. In His way.

Leave them. Protect them from evil… but don’t insulate them from tribulation.

A final prayer.

My prayer. For my children. For my grandchildren. For our Movement…

“Leave them.” So the darkness doesn’t win. So that evil knows it is no match. So the gates of hell crumble. So righteousness has a voice, and a name, and a reputation.

Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. The remnant remains. Until the King returns. Until He calls the faithful home.

Always a light.

Leave them.

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