Thursday

China and the Unseen Presence


Joel 1
20 Even the beasts of the field pant for you because the water brooks are dried up, and fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.

Psalm 42
1 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.


Desperation may be the most despised, and yet valuable condition known to God’s creatures. Desperate ones survive, and even thrive under extreme circumstances. As the panting deer searches for water, so the panting soul searches for God, says the Psalmist. Desperation moves them both.

Several internet news sites report the findings of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) that the end of “The Age of America” is near. The numbers reflect that by 2016 America will cease to rank first as the world’s strongest economy. She will slip to number two behind the looming presence of China.

So what awakened the Sleeping Dragon to such fiscal prominence? Was there something greater than economic strategy that thrust China into the profitable limelight? I want to suggest something here that may sound a bit trite, if not altogether ridiculous to some.

Though China is still led by an extremist government driven by communism, there are 100 million sold out Christians in that nation who are desperate for the presence of God. They’re forced to worship “underground” and persecuted by imprisonment if they challenge the system. The blood of martyrs, executed for daringly professing faith in Jesus, cries out from their soil. Believers in China pant after God. To use the imagery of the Psalmist, his presence is like a “flowing stream” to the thirst ridden deer.

Have you ever watched a video of the Chinese underground church? I did, and I was profoundly shamed by my lack of passion for Jesus as I watched these believers pray for hours until their “sweat became like great drops of blood.” If an American Christian displays such unbridled fervor, some call them “weird,” and most likely, many of the mockers would be church folk. But for the underground church in China this is the norm, not the exception. Even this past Easter some were arrested for attempting to worship in public. Christians in China don’t just believe in Jesus, they pant after him. They’re survival does not depend on fair government, but on the presence of God.

The fathers of America knew our nation’s continuance depended on the blessing of God. In the early days they, too, panted for God, or at least encouraged the church to. Up to the 20th Century our most noted university presidents were revivalists who led the church and the nation to encounter God. Even political leaders who didn’t claim a personal experience with Christ called days of fasting and prayer. This is the atmosphere that propelled America to become the driving force among nations.

Could it be that China has risen to economic global prominence because of a concealed presence that saturates their land? There’s an unseen presence in China from panting after God. And while the Chinese church was forced “underground,” could it be that their red hot intercession has surfaced and blessed the land. Just as the Ark of the Lord brought blessing to Obed-edom and his household, the presence of God has ascended to bring blessing upon this communist nation. It’s possible that the emerging prosperity of China is a reflection of the prosperity of soul within the hidden church who has chased after God and prayed for their homeland. If it’s true that China’s new found affluence could be linked to the spiritual devotion of their believers' pursuit of God, could it also be true that the end of “The Age of America” has come about due to our lack thereof?

Joel notes that “Even the beasts of the field pant for you because the water brooks are dried up.” The godly headwaters that once poured through America have slowed to a trickle. But there is hope; that our desperate condition will cause us to once again pant after the flowing streams of God’s presence.

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