I wrote this a few weeks ago.
I’m sitting on a plane right now. As far as I know, there are seven men actively serving in our country’s military. One is in full uniform, while the other six are in civilian clothing but carrying their uniforms in garment bags and their hats in their hands. As I was waiting to board the plane, I almost had to hold back tears as I stared at these men. I have no idea if they have ever seen the battlefield, but if they were called up, they would go. I imagine most of them are my age. Yet, they may die serving our country, for you, for me, for our families, for our friends, for our future. What an incredible sacrifice.
I was reading some old journal entries. I misplaced my journal for about 6 weeks, never thinking to look under the passenger seat of my car. In one of them, I was praying for the martyrs of the world. I remember the sermon I had heard that week in church was about martyrdom. The pastor gave verses about it and then, he read story after story of people, who at that moment, were imprisoned and waiting to be killed for speaking the name of Jesus. What if we could identify them like we can those in the military?
I’ll be the first to admit that my focus this semester has been microscopic and narrow. Mostly, focused on me and my little world. Truly fighting to survive this semester with absent team members for group projects, projects falling apart 8 weeks in with two weeks before its due, change, and knowing that almost one month from today, I will graduate with a college degree. The following day, I move to Texas. It’s a dream come true, and I am truly excited about this new adventure. I do feel sorrow and sadness. That project I just mentioned that fell apart was turned in yesterday. Twenty-four hours before it was due. I had spent the last 16 days working on that thing for hours a day. And I was going to need to be checked into a mental hospital if I had to look at it anymore. And I wanted to celebrate so I called my best friend Kathryn if she wanted to go out to dinner. We laughed and updated each other and laughed some more. I enjoyed every minute with her because in a month, I won’t be able to do that. She’ll be 800 miles and a different time zone and I’ll miss her terribly.
Then, as I was packing for my trip, I talked to David. I was impatient and snippy. I told him it was that the stress over this project was over and I was just a ball of emotion. Thirty minutes later, I burst into tears, frustrated over bringing too many jackets to Texas. What I was really crying about was being done with projects, realizing I was graduating and that my resume was being sent to companies and positions daily, and that I was moving to Texas.
I’m excited but I just wish I could pack some people and take them with me. I cannot think about moving without the two faces of my babies, my girls, my nieces, Kacie and Kelli, coming to my mind and when that happens, tears flow. Every time. Even on my plane with 150 strangers, tears fill my eyes and streak my face. They are everything to me. I have watched them grow since the started school eight years ago. I’ve babysat them, painted their nails, let them paint mine, cuddled on the couch and watched movies, laughed, held them as they cried, countless times. Dance performances, plays, piano and voice recitals, talent shows, fall festivals, and school dances, I’ve been there. I have such a unique and tight bond with them living in a separate state seems unbearable. Yet I know its where called has God me. I’m praying He calls my sister’s family to Fort Worth, shortly after I move there, I’ll let you know how that goes.
This year has not been easy. I would venture to say, and most who know the intimate details of my life would agree, that this has been the most trying year. I’ve certainly never felt so helpless, lonely (at times), broken or cried more. And I know there is more to come. 2011 has not been the most enjoyable, but it has brought some of the greatest blessings and answers to prayer and for that I am grateful. I am grateful for the heartache, pain, and sorrow this year has held. I wouldn’t repeat it if I had a choice that’s for sure, but that’s the only way I’ve made to November 11 of 2011. Thanking God, through the tears, the laughter, or the ordinary.
So when I think of what martyrs go through, well I can’t. I have no idea what it’s like. I do know their pain and struggles far exceed mine. I do imagine, however, they cling to God like I have, with praise and thanksgiving on their lips. I’m not sure but from stories I’ve heard, it’s how they stay sane. They thank Him for laying down His life so willingly for them. They are so thankful for His sacrifice and so grateful for Him, that they spoke the name of Jesus in places that want to wipe Him out. I imagine in their darkest hours, they have never felt closer to God. I don’t think they are laughing and smiling all the time or even most of the time, but as they sit, curled up in the corner on a damp, filthy, dark, tiny cell, with fresh wounds from beatings they have just taken, they feel Him. He makes Himself known. My trials do not compare to what they face. My struggles nowhere near their own and so my heart is heavy for them. Heavier for them. God’s plan for my life may not be to die for His name, but His plan is for me to live for Him.
Last year, someone my age passed away after ten years of fighting cancer. Our families were friends, although I had only met him a few times. He died having lived for Jesus. Something that has stuck with me since his funeral is something he said.
He quoted Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”
And John said this, “I want to run with everything I can, as hard as I can. If not, why run at all?”
Today I was reminded that I need to run with all I have for Jesus, the King of glory. Not for me. Not for anyone else. Just Him. Whatever He calls me too.
Praying for the martyrs today as they follow what God has called them to. They do not stick out in a crowd to me like the military do, but they do to Him. Praying for our military as well.