This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from the heart of Mehdi Dibaj (from Iran, imprisoned, released and murdered for his faith in Jesus Christ), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)
One of my guards in prison once asked me: 'Does Jesus Christ know that He has someone in this prison who loves Him?' I told him: 'Jesus Christ our Lord has millions of people all over the world who love Him and who wish to sacrifice their lives for Him. I too wish to [be] one of them.'
How sweet it will be if one day my life is sacrificed for Him. When my spirit with joy and purity will fly towards Jesus. I don't want to hide from you my dear son, that I always envied those Christians who all through Church history were martyred for Christ Jesus our Lord. Because for a Christian it is a loss to leave this world by natural death. What a privilege to live for our Lord and to die for Him as well. And I am prepared for the name of Jesus Christ our Lord not only to remain in prison but to give my life in His service as well. Because living is an opportunity for me to serve Christ and death is a better occasion to be with Christ.
A moment of introspection: Ready! Willing! Able! Three words describing an individual who has made a decision, steeling one's will, and determinately voicing one's capability to perform a daring feat. How different a picture painted of one of such daring do, with the real-life Christian who avers, 'How sweet it will be if one day my life is sacrificed for Him. When my spirit with joy and purity will fly towards Jesus.' In Acts 19:21, the apostle Paul indicates his readiness to make the dangerous trip to Jerusalem and eventually Rome. He later described his acceptance/willingness to have made the trip. Along the way to that destination, he learned what Mehdi has to teach us: '...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.' (Romans 5:3-5) So, Paul was ready and willing--just as Mehdi described in his own faith life. Like the apostle Paul, Mehdi Dibaj lived the two horns of the martyr's dilemma: 'To live is Christ, to die is gain.' (Philippians 1:18-26) For the apostle Paul, this dilemma was a noteworthy internal struggle, as he lived his ability toward the fateful trip to Jerusalem. His became both "the way of the cross", and demonstration of his ability to live for Christ in the time he had left. Because both Mehdi and the apostle Paul were faithful until death, each has received the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
Mehdi Dibaj referred to 'millions of people all over the world who love Him and who wish to sacrifice their lives for Him.' Perhaps we might be part of such millions and say 'If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.' (Romans 14:8). We say we love Jesus. And so we do. Would we also, though, say we are ready, willing and able to lose our lives for Jesus' sake, that we might find them? (Matthew 10:39). Sister Chen in China (Meditation on "Are We Willing to Die For The Lord") described another Christian woman who lived for Christ, and in doing so became willing to die for His sake. One of millions, we are told. The apostle Paul expressed his commitment to Christ Jesus in so many ways. In 2 Timothy 4:7-8, he describes the life of commitment and its culmination. Paul neared the end, giving his all for the Lord.
Perhaps we, too, at some time during our life might come to the point in our own walk with the Lord, that in our own words we might describe our readiness, our willingness and our ability to carry our faith forward if faced with such a choice. Are we willing to live for Christ and, through that life, understand the sweetness of a life sacrificed for Jesus--When our spirits with joy and purity will fly towards Jesus? We are asked, in an old hymn standard, the final question: "Are Ye Able"?
Are Ye Able?
By Earl Marlatt and Harry Mason
“Are ye able,” said the Master,
“To be crucified with Me?”
“Yea,” the sturdy dreamers answered,
“To the death we follow Thee.”
Lord, we are able. Our spirits are Thine.
Remold them, make us, like Thee, divine.
Thy guiding radiance above us shall be
A beacon to God, to love and loyalty.
Are you able to relinquish
Purple dreams of power and fame,
To go down into the Garden,
Or to die a death of shame?
Are ye able, when the anguish
Racks your mind and heart with pain,
To forgive the souls who wrong you,
Who would make your striving vain?
Are ye able to remember,
When a thief lifts up his eyes,
That his pardoned soul is worthy
Of a place in paradise?
Are ye able when the shadows
Close around you with the sod,
To believe that spirit triumphs,
To commend your soul to God?
Are ye able? Still the Master
Whispers down eternity,
And heroic spirits answer,
Now as then in Galilee.