Following is a post by John Piper titled, The Wonder of ‘Idiotic’ Perseverance. At its conclusion, I journaled some thoughts……
“In his book, Passion, Karl Olsson tells a story of incredible patience among the early French Protestants called Huguenots.
In the late Seventeenth Century in… southern France, a girl named Marie Durant was brought before the authorities, charged with the Huguenot heresy. She was fourteen years old, bright, attractive, marriageable. She was asked to abjure (recant, deny) the Huguenot faith. She was not asked to commit an immoral act, to become a criminal, or even to change the day-to-day quality of her behavior. She was only asked to say, “J’abjure.” No more, no less. She did not comply. Together with thirty other Huguenot women she was put into a tower by the sea…. For thirty-eight years she continued…. And instead of the hated word J’abjure she, together with her fellow martyrs, scratched on the wall of the prison tower the single word Resistez, resist!
The word is still seen and gaped at by tourists on the stone wall at Aigues-Mortes…. We do not understand the terrifying simplicity of a religious commitment which asks nothing of time and gets nothing from time. We can understand a religion which enhances time…. but we cannot understand a faith which is not nourished by the temporal hope that tomorrow things will be better. To sit in a prison room with thirty others and to see the day change into night and summer into autumn, to feel the slow systemic changes within one’s flesh: the drying and wrinkling of the skin, the loss of muscle tone, the stiffening of the joints, the slow stupefaction of the senses-to feel all this and still to persevere seems almost idiotic to a generation which has no capacity to wait and to endure. (116-117)”
My thoughts after reading the aforementioned are thus: What is it that produces such resolute faith as that found in Marie Durant? Before we answer that somewhat rhetorical question, first tell me about that ‘wonderful plan’ that Jesus has for your life. So, tell me more about this Jesus who wants you to have ‘your best life now.’ Tell me about this Jesus (or was it Moses?) that said God wants to prosper you and make you wealthy if you are first obedient with that seed sowing thing and that 10% off the top thing. Tell me about this otherwise undemanding Jesus who will never ask you to do anything that would split or cause tension in your family. Tell me more about this Jesus who would not ask you to do anything you do not want to do. I have heard all the aforementioned and unbiblical assurances from well-meaning pastors.
In contrast, what is it about Marie Durant’s faith, or more clearly, what is it about the object of her faith, Jesus, that she proclaimed “resistez” to “j’abjure?” What is it about Christ that, even after counting the costs, she would declare “resistez?”
I believe Marie perhaps understood grace more clearly than do some in the church today, and I include myself in this indictment; I believe she better understood the true cost of the Cross. I believe she perhaps came to better understand the absolute horror and wretchedness of sin, and she better understood the absolute and, without Christ, unapproachable holiness and righteousness of God a bit better and a bit more profoundly than many American Christians. I believe she understood the deeper things of Christ that sadly seems to sometimes be held in contempt by the 10 mile wide and ankle deep, impatient, spectacle obsessed, you-can-have-your-best-life now, entertainment driven, culture accommodating and culture polluted, self-absorbed ‘attractional,’ seeker sensitive American evangelical church, be it mega or otherwise. I know, I know…………deep breath, Ron…………breath in….breath out………
In my gift for stating the blatantly self-evident, we do live in a Western culture that reeks of the scent of self-absorption, entitlement, and consumerism. It seems to rub off on the church sometimes. The problem is not, as some would claim, that the church is not relevant to contemporary, post-modern society, it is that she is so often indistinguishable from society; it is that the church, in some of its contemporary manifestations, sometimes likes to look at herself in the mirror a bit much. I believe the Gospel and the sermons Marie Durant heard proclaimed in her day and time was perhaps a bit more absolute in its Christ-centeredness and infinitely less man-centered than much of what is proclaimed from many American pulpits and stages.
I believe she understood better than many today that life is a vapor, that her treasure was not on earth, that her ultimate satisfaction was not some job, her family, or material assets. I believe she greatly valued the Creator over the created, that she grew to love the Giver of the gift and the Author of salvation more than the gift. Her Savior was not just a means to a temporal end. That all being said, I do, however, believe she did at times mourn over the loss of her earth-bound freedom. I believe that she, at times, mourned that she never had the opportunity to marry and have children who would perhaps gift her with grandchildren. I do believe that she counted those costs when she, in her heart, mind, and spirit, daily refused to recant her faith. Her treasure, she knew, was elsewhere and waiting for her, imperishable. I am humbled and convicted by her life of faith and devotion to the risen Messiah.