Reflections from Malta and Prayers for the Days Ahead

Posted by Ravi Zacharias on July 17, 2017

The last few days have been wonderful days of rest and recovery. It could not have come at a better time. Margie and I have to plan nearly two years ahead if we are to get such moments of quietness, conversation, reflection, and thinking of the future. We have wandered through Europe and enjoyed solitude for meaningful conversation. Our lives get so busy and the pace unmanageable. So this has been healing and restoring for us. We needed it. We have enjoyed this trip. Who knows, maybe one day when the speaking is all done I can show the world to our friends and supporters to see what our eyes have seen and gleaned after nearly half a century of travel. It would be fun.

Today we spent in Malta, where Margie’s father was based for some time during the Second World War and the Siege of Malta. He was a navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force flying with the RAF. She had wanted to visit that spot. One interesting anecdote from that time is that since he was the only Christian among the airmen based here, he also had to perform funerals. That earned him the nickname “Monk,” a name that stuck permanently, so much so that some years later when he was walking with his wife in arm in Montreal, he bumped into one of his mates. Caught by surprise, the man greeted his wife, Margie’s mother, with the words, “Nice to meet you Mrs. Monk.” My father-in-law often told that story with his characteristic chuckle.

More importantly, it was here around AD 60 that the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked on his way to Rome and made his home for three months. He preached the gospel here and today it is considered to have one of the highest percentages of followers of Jesus anywhere in the world. They helped stop the Islamists in the sixteenth century. Even shipwrecks have a purpose for the gospel—and only because of God’s sovereign grace.

But as we have traveled and tried to keep minimally in touch with all that’s going on around us, it is sad to read the American newspapers and notice from a distance how hostile and adversarial the newscasters are. My dad used to read the news on weekends occasionally in India over All India Radio. He had a beautiful baritone voice (unlike his second son) and his job was to read the news, not to share his views. In fact, that’s the way it used to be. But now, all you see is people arguing and being disrespectful of leadership to the point of inciting and advancing violence. Anger and hate predispose one to irrational and insane emotions.

I talk to local leadership as I travel and they marvel at what America is doing to itself. We sit at the edge of horrific possibilities and our mass media are bearers of constant criticism, devoid of any grace and even more bereft of answers. I marvel at how a mind can get so hateful. There are huge challenges facing the world geopolitically, while on the news we strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. Even the young speak with such authority, as if they know best. A young view is always helpful, provided it is not seen as the last word on the subject. The views I held in my twenties on almost everything have had to be revisited and reevaluated. How, then, can a troubled world find answers from ideologues that contour everything to fit into their narrative?

News has become views. And views without balance take the blindfold off the Statue of Liberty and manipulate the scales, a sure recipe for creating enemies even to a point of desiring the destruction of an opponent. That is unbridled evil. Evil is the bedrock of destruction. It used to be said in the millennial motif that “each man would be sitting under his own fig tree.” With hate at an epidemic level, it is more descriptive to say, “Each one having his or her own attorney sitting under the scorching winds of anger.” That alone tells us of the broken world in which we live.

But so it is and the world hovers on the brink of potential catastrophes. It’s very troubling. So I turned off the news and took to books.

We both love to read. This is the first time in five years we have taken two weeks to just be together and listen. A book was recommended to me by a young Berkeley student who has recently come to the Lord through the ministry of the RZIM team. The book is titled When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Dr. Kalanithi was a highly gifted neurosurgeon who lost his battle to cancer at age 36 in 2015. It’s a heart-rending but soul-provoking story that is brilliantly written and speaks volumes about life and death.

Kalanithi is of Indian stock and tells the story as only an Indian would tell it, densely textured with philosophical musings that touch the nerve of reality. It became a number one New York Times best seller. If you haven’t read it, it’s one of the best books I have ever read and causes me to rethink how best to spend whatever days the Lord has given to me. It spoke to me deeply. I am more convinced than ever that only in Christ can these questions be answered. Science does not have the prerogative or the capacity to deal with the existential struggles that we all have. Only hubris would deny that reality.

Isn’t it interesting how facing death forces one to actually face life’s real questions? So I dare say, in naturalistic terms death is breath becoming air. In Christian terms, birth is air becoming breath and there is a world of difference from origin to destiny.

I am also writing to make an earnest request. I, along with three others, will be heading out in a few short weeks to one of the most high-risk areas of the world. I will not mention the country but will give you the report after I return. I have been asked for a few years to go there but have not had the peace or the window in which to do it but now feel deeply that I should. So please pray for us. My family is a bit nervous but Margie has given me the green light to do so. If it were not for scheduling conflicts, she would have wanted to accompany me. So I ask for your prayers. We will need His covering. Our lives are in our Lord’s hands and we go with His prodding.

Please continue to pray for our work. The team is having a huge impact. As I move more into speaking and writing the strategic planning, leadership, and pursuit of the vision will be with the younger team. I am confident they will do greater things than I ever envisioned. More than ever, I need wisdom and guidance.

God bless you, dear friends. Thank you for your support. We need it in even greater measure as the team grows and we cover more ground on more tracks. Thank you for standing with us.

Ravi