This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free, compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short excerpt from an Open Doors contact person, there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. (Acts 20:24)
Somewhere in the Transylvanian mountains, in the little village of Livada, lived one of the great spiritual leaders of Romania: Traian Dors. He has spent more than seventeen years in prison because of his evangelistic activities. The last time he was in prison he was given so little food and water that he expected to die.
So did the Communist authorities. Expecting his immediate death, Dors was sent home to die. To make absolutely sure that he would stop all his Christian activities, he was also sentenced to 'house arrest'. 'But I need to see a doctor' he complained. His request was granted. 'You can see a doctor once a week.'
'So I chose a doctor at the other side of my country' he told us, with a twinkle in his eye. 'Even though I was very weak, I could still be taken to that doctor, enabling me to visit the brethren along the way.'
'Shouldn't you stop? You're an old man now, isn't there any one else who can do that work?' The simple old man just shrugged his shoulders. 'We are the grain of wheat that must fall into the ground and die. Only then will it produce a harvest. We must learn to die so that the Body may live.'
We may not have reached that point of commitment yet. But we can start by a willingness to live for Christ and for His Body.
'For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 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 14:7,8)
A moment of introspection: "Shouldn't you stop?" he was asked; we all may be asked that question at some point in our lives. But for Traian, he had committed himself--he had decided to follow Jesus...no turning back. For brother Dors, his commitment led to imprisonment and to the gates of death. The follow-through, for him and possibly for us, required brave persistence--perhaps following Jesus into the valley of the shadow of death. (Psalm 23:4) Though eventually released from prison with the expectation that he would die, Traian emerged from his dark tunnel--he did not perish in the darkness. He did not stumble in the dark, because he saw [or, focused on] the light of this world--Jesus Christ, and what a light He is! He survived the darkness, to flourish in faith.
Now he emerged from prison and did not stop, but creatively molded the authorities' reason for releasing him--molding those reasons so as to be able to do God's work that was left for him. He "thought outside the box"--"so I chose a doctor...". God's Word gives other examples for us, of persons who creatively sought to carry out their Kingdom work. In Joshua 2:1-16, we are told of Rahab's creativity to save the lives of the Israeli spies; she risked everything to ensure that these vital men were returned safely to those who sent them. In 1 Samuel 20:18-23, we learn of Jonathan's plan to warn his friend, David, of Saul's intent to kill David. Showing creativity, Jonathan's plan served its purpose, and David's life was able to be spared. Another instance of creative problem solving that served to further God's plan, His kingdom, was the story of Moses' mother in Egypt. She showed creativity in Exodus 2:3-10, by placing her son into a basket among the reeds by the river--to help ensure Moses' safety, and therein move God's plan forward. Creativity is a useful tool in God's service. Traian showed the kind of creative problem solving that brought encouragement to the saints in his country. We can learn from brother Dors, and seek creative means to serve our heavenly Father.
One would think that, after that blessed release from prison, Traian Dors would have welcomed the rest that Jesus described in Matthew 11:28-30. The question put to him encouraged him to take hold of that rest. But brother Dors understood about continuing to work for the Lord, continuing to run the race (Acts 20:24). In the Life Application Bible notes for Matthew 11:30, the following explanation was put forward: "The rest that Jesus promises is love, healing, and peace with God, not the end of all labor. A relationship with God changes meaningless, wearisome toil into spiritual productivity and purpose." Traian's explanation referenced John 12:24-26; he identified with Christ, and likened himself to a grain of wheat that must fall into the ground and die, so that a harvest might be brought forth. Faithful unto death. Unstoppable. Persevering. All these might describe Traian Dors; yet they might also, perchance, describe us--unswerving, dedicated to living for Christ, that we may also be found faithful to the very end. We needn't serve with wearisome toil, but rather can serve with spiritual productivity and purpose.
In the course of time, we may be asked to die for Christ, but until then, we are called to live for him. In life or death, God's word says we bear much fruit. John 12:24 (ESV) "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." In his letter to the church in Philippi (Phil. 1:19-26), Paul debates with himself whether life in Christ is better or death for the sake of Christ would be preferable. But he came to the conclusion that, if he lives, "that means fruitful service for Christ." (Vs 22) Two verses later, he determines "...it is better for you that I live. I am convinced of this, so I will continue with you so that you will grow and experience the joy of your faith." It is better for others as well that, through our service to Christ Jesus, we live and do so "with spiritual productivity and purpose." We have chosen to serve via intercession for God's people. Yet there are other means of service available to us, too. A resource to Living for Christ in the END TIMES has been recently published in its second edition, written by Dr. David R. Reagan (ISBN 978-0-945593-24-9); it is worth reading. Like Traian, we walk and work in the Light--while it is still day. (John 9:4; 11:9) Let us be creative and spiritually productive; let us serve the Lord with gladness (Psalm 100:2)—and... may we too flourish in faith!