The Tyrant

We’re supposed to give up our love for them?

Knock at the Cabin

It is not enough only to have martyrs for the faith, people willing to die for the thing they believe in. We also need people willing to live under the threat of death, to endure a long life of suffering. Martyrs receive maximum suffering over the shortest amount of time. The ones who live endure varying amounts of suffering over a long amount of time. In evangelical America, many are willing to die for their faith; few are willing to live, to stomach what it means to endure.

You have heard in said in recent weeks that there is a revival in America, a reawakening of the Spirit on this land. I believe this is true; I can feel it in that hollow space carved into my heart. The Tyrant is tightening his gallows. Laws are being passed and censorship is sweeping our communities. The limits of grace have been set forth by human hands. The Tyrant is getting anxious. It is always, has always been like this. Darkest before the dawn. Defeat makes tyrants desperate.

I believe that there is a revival in America. I believe that God’s about to free some captives and fell some tyrants. I believe that I’m about to find myself in the wilderness, but that my children are going to feast on milk and honey. I believe that freedom is coming for the captives and I’ve felt it for a while.

For too long, though, I believed that captivity would be coming for The Tyrant. I needed to believe that my righteousness and my rightness and my rage would be redeemed. In Matthew 21, we see Jesus’ rage as he flips over the tables in his Father’s temple, condemning in righteous rightness. Rage has a holy and celebrated place in our worship. But rage is not the thing that saves the world.

Don’t miss this, friends. Rage cannot save any of us. Rage is balm for the suffering, a reminder that they are seen. Rage is a warning to repentance, a reminder to The Tyrant that human authority is just animated dust waiting, again, to crumble. Rage is important. Rage is necessary. Rage is not the thing that saves the world.

“While we were still sinners,” Paul writes, “Christ died for us.” The rage of God was righteous. It was right. It was deserved. It is only because the rage is inflicted on the undeserved. It is only because grace is undeserved that the world is save. Sacrificial love, which is a fancy way of saying suffering, is what saves the world.

God is on the way to loosen chains. God is on the way to set the captives free. God is on the way to fulfill good promises.

Promises that require suffering. Good that requires love. Freedom that requires the purging of righteous rage for peace and love that make no sense.

To follow Christ is to surrender everything – even rightness.

I don’t want to live in an equitable world or a just world. That isn’t enough for me. I want to sit at the same table as my captor. I want to look in his eyes. I want to know him as my brother.

Rage can’t do that. Only love can save the world.

Bryce Van Vleet is the #1 selling author of Tired Pages and Before We All Die Let’s Have One Last Chat by the Fireside. He also hosts the podcast Death in Dakota and sells poetry art here. You can support him by clicking through blog posts or donating (scroll to the bottom of the page).

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It’s Chaos. Be Kind.

Title from Michelle McNamara, as told by husband Patton in his Netflix special Annihilation. 

We buy cookies. Every time. Fat ones, from a bakery we have delivered.

Cookies and cream.

Peanut Butter.

Chocolate Chip.

They come in a box and a bag. Sometimes we buy milk for dipping. Most of the time we scarf them down dry. Grief is a dish best served with dough.

Continue reading “It’s Chaos. Be Kind.”

Your mysteries are madness


I would like to read the sentence “do you remember so and so” without feeling an immediate sense of dread. I would likewise appreciate texting out “Did you ever know so and so” without having to follow-up with “they’re not dead, I just have a story.”

As a social scientist, I rather enjoy statistics most of the time. The few times I don’t are when I realize one person 25 or under from some aspect of my life has died every four months since I graduated high school. To put that in perspective, I graduated exactly three years and one month ago.

Where is God in this death and dying? Where is God in the middle of the deepest valley? Where is the Healer in the coffins of 18 and 19 and 20 and 21 and 23 and 25 year olds? Where is that God?

Karl Marx once wrote that religion is the opium of the people, referring to the drug-like properties of religion in reducing suffering and illusions of strength and peace. With any due respect, Marx never got himself around to the root of faith. The root of faith is not the comfort in the mourning or the cry to God (or gods) at a moment of weakness. The root of faith is looking a sunset in the face and trying to reconcile the nature of a God who paints the sky each night and plucks children from their parents before they have a chance to really start their lives. The root of faith is anchoring yourself into a vast and bottomless ocean and trusting that somehow, someway, sometime, the metal will clink on rock and you will be saved. But the root of faith is not in the clinking of the metal, but in the free-falling of it.

This free-fall, this disbelief, this insecurity is where I write to you from today. Take it or leave it, but it’s all I have left in this season of death and mourning.

Continue reading “Your mysteries are madness”

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