Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you are the one that knows.’ Then he said to me, ‘These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:13-14, NRSV)
In one of her “almost daily” e-devotions, Barbara Crafton of Geranium Farm fame, writes these words about martyrs:
“Martyrs love the lives they lay down in the service of something with an even stronger claim on them.” –Barbara Crafton
I found the words compelling, not because the season of Lent calls us to be martyrs … but because of this image of sacrifice “in the service of something with an even stronger claim on (you).” What a perfect image for our Lenten lifestyle. So often when we answer the question “what is your Lenten discipline” we sigh … or we adopt a severe countenance … or our shoulders slump under the weight of such a heavy burden as a Lenten discipline adopted for six weeks of our life. We “bear the weight of the world” on our shoulders, and demonstrate as clearly as possibly that we are martyrs for the faith.
Why? If we love this faith so deeply, as we say we do, why are doing things for God such a chore? Should we not wake up wanting to do things for our Heavenly Father, our Saving Brother, our Enlivening Spirit? I think of my grandson, whose response to almost any request for help is, “Sure!” He is at a stage of life where the excitement of the world is so rich and vibrant that he cannot process it all … he wants a part of all of it … and is anxious to be a part of everything.
He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-3)
Oh, to be the child Jesus speaks of here, in our Lenten journey … and in the other forty-six weeks of the year. To have utter joy at serving … rampant excitement over trying something new … complete trust that when we walk at the Father’s side ti will be good, no matter what we face. We are rarely asked to lay down our life for Jesus in the way the historic martyrs did. But this week in your prayer and meditation, why not ask yourself the question, “What does “laying down my life for God” look like here and now? If you can’t smile with joy when you think about the answer, maybe somethin’ needs a fixin’.