I’m back! Hello to everyone! After a lovely little vacation with my family, I’ve returned to a normal blogging schedule. Well, it’s a bit abnormal, but we’re getting back on track. I thought I’d return with an open letter to the Netherlands, one of my favorite places in the world.
Before birds have decided which concerto should begin the day until the rest of creation has snuggled under their collective blankets to dream, the sun shines on you. This is the first image I have in my head when I think of you. Sunlight. Bright, beautiful, sunlight. Somehow, even on days that are supposed to be cloudy and rainy, the sun still manages to sneak in a few beams to smile on you.
Maybe that’s why so much seems fresh. The air smells fresh, the land looks fresh, and everything feels, yes, fresh. It’s not a very descriptive word, so let me put it this way: Your old cities, most older than my country, feel active. Ancient culture runs through your waters and mingles with modern hopes, dreams, and ideas. You don’t sit stagnant and watch as the world changes around you. Time flows and moves in and through you as you keep rhythm of its ticks and tocks.
Unfortunately, there are some debris that gets mixed in the flow of being alive and active. They are problems that many of our countries face: Smoking where children play or non-smokers try to enjoy meals outside; human trafficking (which you do have a large problem in this area, a lot due to your laws regarding prostitution – but that is a discussion we can have another time. A short mention of it here is not enough, and I know there are groups already working on resolutions for this); the quick hurried pace of your larger cities.
There is a larger issue at hand, though, and one that my own country shares: Your spirit is dying.
This is a point on which many, many will disagree with me. It is something not seen and buried deep in the heart of a nation. It’s a death that is most defined by the little notice it receives.
Your history is filled with men and women who pursued a relationship with God and Jesus. Cities were built with this relationship at the heart of their design. One of my favorite cities in the world, your Leiden, is rich with the hopes and dreams of Christians long ago. One of the bravest women I’ve ever read about lived in your Haarlem.
But, now this history has become just that – history. Absolutely there are many among your wonderful, kind, and generous people that hold to their faith. There are many who are sharing this love, this deep undefinable love of Jesus, with all around them. But, like my own country, they are the exception and not the rule.
I love your people. I married one! Your people are full of love and laughter and joy of life. Maybe that’s why it hurts so much when I think on this. My heart aches to see your spirit dying. It aches to know that most will pass this blog off as just a ramble of some Jesus fanatic who doesn’t know the real you. Or that I’m making a big deal out of nothing.
But, I have hope. My hope lies in that the one who can revive your spirit is not done with you. He never will be. I see it in the faces of people I meet who are madly in love with Him and want others to share in the riches of his love. I see it in the pastors who reach for the deeper faith despite the opposition they face from their own congregation. There is hope, and there will always be hope. I, for one, will not let your spirit go quietly. My prayers will be filled for you, as it is for my own country.
Netherlands, you are a beautiful land. Every spring your flower fields explode with colors that sing to all who look on them. One day, I believe, your spirit will do the same. For, it will be his spirit.