This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free, compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short description of a faithful believer (from the Comoros Islands, Ali was the first Christian convert on this Muslim island who came to know Jesus Christ in a special way. Edited from the book, In the Shade of the Moon, published by Baruk, 1990), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
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)
Ali Sougou grew in his Christian faith, especially after he had received a Bible. But then another crisis came: Ali was arrested by the police and thrown into prison. Three months later he appeared before a special court. Those presiding were Muslim leaders, army officers, village leaders and other authorities. The trial took place in the open air with a huge crowd of spectators present.
The verdict was unusual, Ali could choose his own punishment from three alternatives:
1 Life imprisonment.
2 Death by firing-squad.
3 Deportation from the country.
As he stood there, wondering what to say, Ali knelt down and started to pray. He prayed loudly so that the crowd could hear his prayer also. 'Lord Jesus, here I am and I know you are with me. Help me choose what you want me to choose.' The judges were astonished. They had expected Ali to choose deportation, but he seemed to be willing to be shot. The crowd shouted: 'He is a fool--he is mad--he is crazy. You cannot sentence a crazy man--let him go home.'
He never had to choose--the crowd chose for him, which was accepted by the judges--fearing the crowd. Ali could go home! He learned the secret of spiritual victory: if we are willing to lay down our lives on the altar and leave the verdict to God, He will choose the best for us--to His glory.
A moment of introspection: "I consider my life worth nothing to me..." (Acts 20:24) What a breath-taking stance by the apostle Paul. What a Life Credo or Motto, a life-long driving assertion that would be for each of us. Ali Sougou was able to win victory because he knew the secret to spiritual victory and, however the twist of fate ran itself out in his trial, Ali was convinced of this secret: "if we are willing to lay down our lives on the altar and leave the verdict to God, He will choose the best for us--to His glory." Absolute surrender--God choosing the best for us, for His own glory. That's a good formula for success in our Christian walk. We ask God to help us choose what He wants us to choose. Knowing the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), God does know what is best for us, and what is best for us is to do what He wants us to do, to choose what He wants us to choose--for His glory. Willingness to lay our lives down, is something our Lord knows about personally (John 10:15-18); in His willingness, God accomplished our redemption and our victory over death.
In our fallen world, God knows that those of the world do not understand His story of salvation; (Matthew 13:13-15) He knows that the world does not understand us either, at all times. (John 16:33; Hebrews 4:2). Jesus talked about the world not accepting what we say, just as it did not accept what He said. (John 15:18-21) He said that our message would seem foolish to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18). This is because we believers are not of this world; we are in the world, but not of it. (John 17, especially 17:16). The crowd witnessing Ali's choice, had expected him to choose...deportation. See the difference, between their mental wagering and Ali's surrender of his options to the One Who wouldn't fail him? Because of Ali's faith, God's choice was the choice for brother Sougou. To the crowd, such surrender signaled insanity. He must be crazy! He must be mad! The message of the cross (absolute surrender) was foolishness, but to Ali, it was his statement of faith. He requested God's will and His choice--a fourth option. He did so loudly, so that all could hear. He did so, acknowledging Immanuel, and asking for His help in choosing what God would wish him to choose.
The choice, for Ali Sougou, was the outgrowth of a developing faith. He grew in his faith, after receiving a Bible--God's Word. Though unstated, an assumption would be warranted that faith in God develops not from having a Bible but from reading/studying the Bible and, through that, developing confidence--faith--in a trustworthy Father. At least in part, Jesus came to show the band of believers (and us) what God is like, and demonstrate the confidence that each of us might have, in our relationship with the Father. We, too, can develop such confidence through reading God's Word and letting it impact us. (James 1:5,22-25) It was through such openness to God’s Word that the apostle Paul asserted, "I consider my life worth nothing to me..." (Acts 20:24) To complete his thought, though, let us continue--"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." In this account of Ali Sougou, our brother testified to the Gospel of God's grace. May we as well, come to lay our lives on the altar of God's perfect will and, with Ali, pray that God's choices will be our choices. That God's will should be our will. And may we, too, personally experience the secret of spiritual victory. If we are presented with a choice, may we (as Jesus Himself stated) say to our Father: "Your will, not my own." (Matthew 26:42)