Friday, June 25, 2010

Dear Daniel: My prayer for you on your 7th birthday


June 26, 2010

Dear Daniel,

Sixty-five years ago, a young man named Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave his life for the cause of the gospel. I’m reading about Bonhoeffer’s life now, and his story is a compelling one that offers us many lessons about commitment to God and boldness to stand in difficult circumstances.

Dietrich grew up in Germany, and by the time he was a young pastor, a man named Adolf Hitler had risen to power in that country. Hitler was one of the most evil, wicked men the world has ever seen. Think of the meanest, nastiest person you can imagine, and Hitler was worse. He was responsible for killing more than six million Jews — whose only crime was being Jewish — and for starting a war in which millions more lost their lives. He was a man who hated God and considered himself to be his own god.

Most of the people in Germany were too scared to stand up to Hitler. But Bonhoeffer was not. He knew that it was good and right for Hitler to be killed, and Bonhoeffer played a role in a plot to end the lunatic Hitler’s life. That plot failed. Bonhoeffer’s role in it was discovered, and Hitler had him killed. Bonhoeffer handled his execution with dignity, entrusting his life to the hands of a merciful God.

Why could Bonhoeffer believe this? Here was a young man in the prime of his life with a whole lifetime in front of him. Why would he have such a calm approach to his certain death?

Earlier in his life, Bonhoeffer had this to say about the Bible:

“I believe that the Bible alone is the answer to all our questions, and that we need only to ask repeatedly and a little humbly, in order to receive the answer. One cannot simply read the Bible, like other books. One must be prepared really to enquire of it. Only thus will it reveal itself. Only if we expect from it the ultimate answer, shall we receive it. That is because in the Bible, God speaks to us.”

Bonhoeffer was a man who believed with all his heart what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Because Bonhoeffer believed the Bible so strongly, he knew that Hitler could take his life, but he could not take his soul – that when his life on earth was over, whenever that might be, eternal life in heaven waited for him because he believed the gospel: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

As you celebrate your seventh birthday, my prayer for you is that you would grow to be a man like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I pray that you will love the Bible the way he did, that you will believe the gospel the way he did, that you will be filled with boldness to stand up for the Lord and for what’s right – like Bonhoeffer did — even if it means an early death. May the Lord deeply impress upon your heart the truth that our lives on this earth are temporary and fleeting, and that an eternity of peace and joy awaits those who have faith in Christ.

I hope that as you celebrate your birthday, it will be but the first of many more in your life. But even more than that, I want you to be ready to face eternity, whether that comes next week or 80 years from now. Bonhoeffer knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the sufferings he endured were nothing compared to the glory that awaited him in heaven. As he said upon his death, “This is the end. For me, the beginning of life.” I pray that you will cling to that truth as well.

Happy birthday, buddy. I’m so proud of you, and I love you very, very much.


Categories : Family


  1. Kelly Boggs says:

    Great, simply great!