The other night in the car we got into an interesting conversation with our Rosebud girl. It went a little something like this:
Out of nowhere she said, “Don’t you wonder what the end of the world is going to be like?”
Her question was the perfect invitation into a spiritual conversation.
“If you would have been in church today you wouldn’t have to wonder. You would know,” I replied.
For the past few months we have been going through the book of Revelation at church, talking in depth about the end times and how it will go down. She had overslept that morning, and I had decided not to lure her/drag her/force her out of bed.
Without missing a beat she promptly responded with a giggle, “My mom and grandma think that aliens are going to come suck us up and take us away.”
Hmmmm, hadn’t heard this one from her yet. She started talking about some movie she had seen and going on and on about death by aliens. One thing that God has revealed about our Rosebud girl is that deep down she is very fearful about anything regarding death. Because of that, she likes to make little of the subject. She talks about death in very comical/non-serious ways. She was obsessed with Halloween this year, and would always excitedly point out lawn decorations filled with make-shift graveyards, and zombie looking creatures. She fills her mind with books and movies all about darkness and evil and she becomes completely numb to it all. Her assumptions on what death will be like for her arrive at very comfortable-feeling conclusions.
Unfortunately, death for the person who has rejected God will be anything but comfortable. I felt the truth starting to well up inside of me, just waiting to bust out of my mouth. I began to recap what we had learned in church about the Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath (Revelations 16) and I shared about some of the plagues God will send when the world comes to an end.
“The seas, rivers, and springs will all turn to blood. That means toilets and faucets will only pour out blood. Those who reject God will break out with ugly, awful, painful sores. The sun will be given the power to scorch them with fire. Giant hailstones will be hurled from the sky each weighing a hundred pounds and they will fall on people...”
Then she said something that made me hurt for where she is at spiritually, more than I ever have. She said, “If all those things were happening, why wouldn’t you just crawl in a hole and die?” My mind wandered to a different section in Revelation which described this exact heart response. As she implied, some will continue to reject God even as He displays His power through these judgments and plagues that will be poured out onto the earth. They would rather die than fall on their knees and acknowledge God’s Sovereign power. Revelation 6:12-17:
I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
Those who in their life flaunted their disbelief and showed no reverence for God will find themselves face to face with God’s wrath if they are still living on the earth during this time. They will realize that they were wrong. And in these verses we see that rather than repent, rather than look to Jesus and believe, they instead call on ‘mother nature’ to have rocks fall on them and kill them as they hide from God in terror. Further still, others in their pride and arrogance will curse His name rather than bow down to Him. Revelation 16: 8-9:
The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.
As I pointed this out she listened intently and then said, “That’s what you believe. The Lakota Sioux believe….” And then she went on to explain a few of the spiritual stories of her people that have been passed down to her from generation to generation. This is the point that we always get to when Jesus comes up. Every. Single. Time. She’s mentioned that to her, our faith - Christianity - is ‘white man religion’. If she were to bow down to Jesus, that would be rejecting her culture, her family traditions, her very identity, and once again giving into the ‘white man’ - which all of American History has proven to be a bad thing for her people. When I look at this all from her perspective, I can comprehend the loyalty that she feels to what she has been taught her whole life.
But there is something that doesn’t quite add up, and she hasn’t been able to connect the dots yet. She has expressed many times that she doesn’t want to go back to the reservation. So when we got to this point in the conversation I said, “Do the people on the reservation seem to be living lives filled with joy, hope, and peace?” I already knew what her answer would be.
“No,” she said.
“And why don’t you want to go back there? Why don’t you want to grow up there and raise a family there?”
“Because there are horrible things there. The suicides, rape, alcoholism, murders, depression, teenage pregnancies. It ruins people’s lives.”
Exactly. And what I know that she doesn’t yet, is that those things that are ruining the lives of her people are the product of Satan’s hands. Satan is the great deceiver. He can use what looks like ‘religion’ and ‘culture’ to lead people astray - far, far away from truth, generation after generation.
I know I serve a God who came for all nations and all people (Matthew 28:18-20), although Satan would try to dishevel that truth. The new life that Christ can bring stands in stark contrast to a life of guilt, shame, and emptiness that plagues her people.
Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
She’s already seen lives destroyed. I hope that she will get to experience life to the full through a Savior that gave his life for hers.
We of course are not the first to discover this tension of Christianity being perceived by Native Americans as ‘white man religion’. That tension has just traveled into my home now, so I am becoming very interested in it. I just found out about this book:
(Book of Hope)
It is a collaboration of stories and testimonies written about Native American’s who have put their faith in Jesus. Our church also supplied us with this book when we signed on for the exchange program: