Acts 1:8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
It always seems that the young, the brave, the bright … the idealistic souls, are those who long to get onto the front lines and put their hands in the heat of the battle, wholly given to a desire to make a difference. Neither controversy nor the threat of danger and loss dissuade these champions of the cause … what they feel is more tangible and valuable than life itself.
Only the pure motive to serve and save others can rise so high as to demand our life, our honor and our all. For these chosen vessels, life is wasted on the pursuit of things which cannot endure.
Such was the heart of a brave and bright young man named Jim Elliot. Jim was born in Seattle, Washington in 1927. He was raised in a home which espoused Christian values leading Jim to accept Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior at age 6. Throughout his school years Jim was recognized for his willingness to speak up and stand up for his convictions.
Everyone who knew Jim imagined he could do great things with his life and he was encouraged in many directions. Jim however felt a call on his life to reach out to and evangelize those who had not yet heard about and did not know the loving grace of God in Christ. Specifically Jim felt called to the indigenous Huaorani Indians of Eastern Ecuador, a small tribe known for their distrust of and hostility towards outsiders.
Considering his home church to be well fed Jim systematically prepared himself for the task, assembled a team of like minded men and set out to the work. Once established in Ecuador Jim and his team continued preparation while ministering to receptive natives in the less threatening border areas surrounding the Huaorani Tribe. From February 1952 until September 1955, Jim put his plan together and finally felt it time to advance to the next stage. During this time Jim had married his college sweetheart, Elizabeth, who had recently joined him on the mission field.
From September 1955 until the 3rd of January 1956, Jim and his team flew their airplane over the jungle villages of the Huaorani people dropping leaflets and speaking on loud speakers informing them of their intent to make contact but do no harm. On January 3rd the 5 men established a second base camp closer to the Huaorani village and later made initial contact with tribal representatives, one of which was given his requested ride in the airplane. Little did they know that in order to save his own reputation this man would return and tell vicious lies to the Huaoranian Indians which served to incite them to violence.
On January 8, 1956, while preparing to make their first real outreach to the Hauoranians with the Gospel of Christ, Jim Elliot and his 4 friends were savagely attacked with knives and spears, killed by Huaorani Indian warriors, and their dead bodies were thrown into the river. Later all of the bodies were recovered along with their journals.
Life Magazine picked up the story and ran a 10 page exclusive resulting in international coverage which boosted missionary commitments from all around the globe. Other young, bright and brave men and women identified the longing of their souls to stand on the front lines of eternity and pledge their life to the cause of Christ. That same year, 1956, brought even greater conviction to the Jim Elliot’s young widow, Elizabeth, a new mom herself.
Elizabeth, along with one of the martyred team member’s sister, Rachael Saint, pledged her life to continue the work her husband had begun. These two ladies persevered and Elizabeth spent the next two years reaching out and evangelizing the Huaorani Indians, even leading some of those warriors who had savagely killed her husband to salvation in Christ, forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Elizabeth went on to publish several books which still serve to inspire others to the continuing tasks at hand.
One of the notations which was found in a Jim Elliot’s daily journal leads us to better understand the perspective of one who would dare to put his plans on hold and place his life on the line for the cause of Christ. He wrote:
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." (Jim Elliot’s Daily Journal, October 28, 1949)
Today Jim wears the eternal crown of a martyr. Killed in the service of loving others.
I suggest that it is not the death of Jim Elliot that should inspire us but rather the way Jim chose to live his life. He was only 28 years old and yet he knew the most important truths of life. Only what we do for Christ will endure. Life for Jim was a choice … he was chosen, but the choice was his.
Have you ever wanted to be chosen? Have you ever felt special? Special enough to be chosen … well you are special and specially chosen – but the real choice is yours. Once chosen, the choice is yours.
As I said earlier, Acts 1:8 describes Spirit-filled Believers as martyrs. Not the dead kind but rather the living kind - Those who give their lives to the service of Christ. Some may ask: “Preacher, what’s in it for me?”
This is my guarantee:
· If you will give your comfort and your concerns to Christ laying your life at the foot of the cross and simply follow Him … it may not mean a change in jobs but it will mean a change in life … and it’s a choice
If you will follow Jesus Christ I can faithfully and sincerely promise you:
· Wealth beyond your wildest imaginations
· A bigger house than you’ve ever dreamed about
· Closer family relationships than you have ever experienced
· No more sickness, no more pain, no more crying, no more dying
· A longer and stronger life than you can begin to describe
· You’ll be smarter, wiser, more intelligent and knowledgeable
· Always know exactly what to do and precisely when to do it
· Everything you attempt will be successful
· You’ll never worry or be afraid of anything ever again
· On top of everything else, you will be immortal
It is just a short journey from where you are to everything God has for those who will follow Christ. Won’t you come and follow Jesus today?
It’s nothing less than the call Peter and John and their family and friends received near 2000 years ago while they were all busy with life:
Matthew 4:19 Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
What gave them the power to follow Christ? The same thing that convinced Jim Elliot, those other 4 men, Elizabeth Elliot, Rachael Saint and it’s the same thing that convinced me … it will convince you too --- do you hear it? It’s God choosing you …
There is a voice within the voice … a voice that speaks straight to the heart. Deep calls to deep … (Psalms 42:7)
You were chosen in Christ before the world began … (2Timothy 1:9)
There is a fresh call from heaven going throughout the earth today … I hear the Lord saying afresh, “Come and follow Me!” – Refresh your choice.
Who cannot deny the voice of the Lord? Who has not heard the call? Who has not felt the witness and the drawing of heaven’s hand? Come …
Come just as you are …
Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden … (Matthew 11:28)
Just as I am without one plea … I surrender all …
Jesus is tenderly calling today … Though none go with me still I will follow
Respond to the voice of the Lord. Get up out of your seats right now …
· Bring your life to the altar of His service
· Bring your spouse to the healing waters of Zion
· Bring your children to the crossing of the Jordan
· Bring your friends to the foot of the Cross
· Come, willing to forsake all to Follow Him …
Chosen to Come just as you are and receive your calling afresh. Certainly God will let you know the next step in its time - but for now – you know the first step and it is yours to take … come and surrender your all to Him!