What’s more dangerous? Hiking, or medical work in a war-torn country (in 2016, I think of Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria).
You’d probably answer medical work in a war-torn country. Apparently, hiking is just as dangerous.
Yesterday I found out that a friend of mine was hiking in Colorado, tripped and hit his head on a rock, dying instantly.
This man was a total legend. A medical doctor working for the cause of the Kingdom. He was, for a long time, serving in Afghanistan. At the time of his death, he was preparing to return to that region to serve the poor and needy of that area, once again.
What makes his death so profound to me, is that I literally sat with him just weeks ago as he told me time and time again how we must give our whole lives for Christ, and that he had come to terms that he might die at any day. He regularly reminded me that what mattered most was giving all of our lives to God every day.
So why did he talk of death and life in such a way?
This man had seen many friends killed for their faith in Afghanistan. One colleague was shot just days after taking my friend’s old position in one hospital he had just left. He literally told me he was nearly losing count of the friends of his who had been martyred! He told me how seeing such sufferings had drawn him closer to Jesus, who truly suffered for us and suffers with us.
He also insistently reminded me of how blessed I am. One of the last things he said to me was this,
“To be blessed by God is to be loved by God and disciplined as he brings us into his presence, cleaning us through Jesus’ sufferings, and allowing us to participate in a way that shows our love, trust and obedience in an incarnate life.”
So, what did I learn from all of this about risk and death. What do I observe from his life and death that I would plead with you to take on-board in your own life…
- Live every day as if it were your last. You’ve heard that saying, I’m sure. Some people, when they hear it, think, “If it were my last day on earth I’d spend the time on earthly pleasures. I’d eat my favorite meals, I’d sit with my favorite people, go sky diving… basically do whatever I wanted that would give me pleasure before I died.” I’m not saying to live everyday like that. I’m saying, live every day like it were your last day, before going to be with God. Love radically, give sacrificially, share Jesus with people, care for others, and do all you can for them. Live each day with an eternal perspective.
- When God calls you to take a risk- take it. So many people say things like, “I could never go on a missions trip to ________, it’s too dangerous there.” Or, “I couldn’t spend my time or energy on ___________ people group, it’s too risky.” Or, I can’t give $ ____________ , I need some leftovers for myself!” Kids, such a mentality will rob you of your adventures in Christ, and you will still end up dying / running out of money / getting hurt in one way or another. I always say this, “What would you prefer- to suffer for Christ, or to suffer whilst rebelling against Christ?” Persecutions and troubles are promised, the question is, who will they be for and what eternal significance will they have? I can’t help but think of the passage in Luke 12. Basically a man decides that he will save all his food up for himself and not give it away, then he dies, and the writer asks, “Who will get your things now!?”. Don’t have such a mentality, live and give with full abandonment as if your life belongs to God and not to you… because it does! My friend is a perfect example of why we should risk it, when your time is up it is up- whether your in Afghanistan or Colorado. To think that he lived many of his days surrounded by guns and murderers, war and bullets… and yet he died hiking. I don’t understand it, but I learn a lot from it. When your time is up its, up. So take the risks God asks you too, be on the offense for the Kingdom, not on the defense.
- Talk about death, mourn when people die, and don’t shy away from it. Western culture is famous for being silent on death. Kids, death is a part of life. It’s unfortunate, and I can tell you that there will be no death in heaven- but it is a part of life on earth. Talk about it. As a Christian you have the best news ever for people faced with death- Jesus makes it possible for people to live for eternity despite their physical bodies dying. When death comes up in conversation- what an opportunity to share the hope of Christ. Also- mourning is a good thing. Why? Because it reminds us that death was never God’s intention, He is for life and one day we will live forever! So don’t ignore or play down death, dive into all the emotions associated with it, but know this- for those in Christ- death is just the beginning of glory! That’s why number 1 and 2 are so important, people need to know about Jesus, who He is, and what He is offering them- eternal life.
Love you so much kids, go for it! With God, you can take the risks, and live the adventure, and see more and more people come into God’s kingdom.