2013-08-29 - Following the Call
Acts 22:20 And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.
On 18 January 1982 the US Navy Blue Angels precision flying team suffered a horrific accident during practice. The four planes that make up the classic diamond formation all crashed in the Nevada desert during practice for an upcoming presentation. The investigation showed that the one of the control surfaces on the lead plane jammed. This did not allow the pilot to complete the maneuver all four planes were involved in at about 100 feet. Because of their training the other three pilots were all focused on the lead plane in the diamond formation. The planes are so close they rely completely on their commander - complete and utter trust. At 400 mph even the commander only knew there was a problem split seconds before impact.
There are a few examples of martyrs in the Bible. Paul tells of his involvement as Stephen was martyred for his faith in Christ. Prior to Paul's conversion (then called Saul) he was sent out with letters from the Jewish leadership in Damascus to hunt down and return "the people of the way" in chains to Jerusalem. Tradition tells us that all the Apostles but two were martyred. Judas committed suicide and John died of old age after writing the Book of the Revelation - the last book in the New Testament. Paul may have been martyred in Rome. Not all are called on to give the ultimate sacrifice for their faith, but some are indeed called.
What makes those who are martyred follow that calling into dangerous situations or live in places where their faith is not welcome? They feel God call them to such service and they answer. They trust the Lord, just like the three pilots trusted their commander, implicitly. They trust that God will use them to reach the people to which they are sent even if they are not the ones to see the end of that process. They trust just like the pilots followed their calling to precision flight to the highest, most exacting level.
Matthew 4:19 And He said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Let me be perfectly crystal clear. Not all callings result in martyrdom by a very wide margin. But we all have this one calling. If we follow Christ, trusting Him as Savior, one thing He promises is that we will have opportunities to reach others with the gospel - to be fishers of men. We don't need fancy degrees or decades of study. Walk the walk. One of the ironies is that when those who tease or harass Christians have trouble in their lives some of them seek out the Christians first for advice and understanding - because of the faithful way they live their lives.
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.