Men and women such as these ~

Devotions - Loving Shepherd - St Stephen's Anglican ChurchA Devotion by D. Raborn on our Loving Shepherd page.

Today my devotion is about everyday people, men and women like us, who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. I hope this reflection may also help us to express Christ’s way to those unbelievers who cross our paths.

Hadassah, Esther, Queen Esther, one ordinary Jewish girl who saved her people allowing Jesus to enter through the line of David~ She answered the call and did not turn back.

Saint Peter; Saint Thomas; Saint Paul, really ordinary men who became extraordinary through their belief. They’d seen the Light of this World and would not, could not turn back. ‘The die was cast’ and Jesus was at the forefront of their existence. He was their ALL; their raisin d’etre; their whole life.

Peter~so human, so real~ was crucified upside down. We must ask ourselves why anyone would choose that? And the truth is, he chose that for himself. He would not, could not turn back!

Saint Thomas traveled to far-away India in order to spread the Gospel message. This was a hard journey and the place he met his eventual death. It is interesting that the disciple who needed to verify the wounds of His Lord would die by a sword in his side a continent away.

Saint Paul’s conversion was so dramatic that it turned a ‘Christian hater’ into a ‘Christ follower’. Instantly, after the revelation of Lord Jesus, a hardened heart softened to such an extent that nothing but complete obedience would suffice. He met the harsh death of beheading leaving behind an accumulation of faith and a growing Church. “He fought the good fight”~ He would not nor could not turn back~

Miep Gies died at the age of 100 in 2010 in the Netherlands where she helped sustain Anne Frank’s family in their warehouse for 25 months prior to their capture during WW11. Gies, named a “Righteous Gentile” by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, did not waiver when her employer, Otto Frank, requested assistance in hiding from the Nazis. Miep kept the diary of Anne Frank safe until it could be published. She was faithfully obedient. She wouldn’t, couldn’t turn back.

Aleksandr solzhenitsyn said and I quote:
“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Why did he go to such great lengths to better a whole generation living behind the iron curtain of communism? Having himself been converted by Dr Boris Kornfeld while in a Soviet gulag, he wrote the truth. He wouldn’t, couldn’t turn back.

However, what about modern times such as these? What seemingly regular people inspire us in their extraordinary faith?

Mrs. Nien Cheng wrote Life and Death in Shenghai, a portrayal into Mao Zedong’s Red Guard Revolution and her 61/2 year stint as a political prisoner of the State. Throughout her torture, her steadfast defiance and her reliance on the freedom, truth, and salvation of Christ, her Lord, Nien Cheng survived courageously, victoriously. She knew God and she would not turn back, could not turn back.

C.S. Lewis shared a friendship and Oxford with J.R.R. Tolkien who introduced a method of writing using both logic and imagination. The two collaborated on ideas for a thirsty public. Tolkien inspired in Lewis a desire to write as a Christian author rather than producing more books on Christianity. Following his quest from agnosticism to Christ devotee, C.S. Lewis spawned a generation of believers in the allegorical world of Narnia. He searched and found, thus would not, could not turn back!

Dr Francis Collins is a geneticist, physician, writer. Known in the world of science as a leader in the development of the genome. Oh, and yes, an atheist. Until, that is, his hiking in the State of Washington stopped him in his tracks. He had a revelation. The type that is a ‘game changer’. Since then, much of the world of science has rebuked him and he has gone on to write The Language of God and The Language of Life. There is no turning back for Dr Francis Collins, an evangelist in science. He wouldn’t and he couldn’t turn back.

Lee Strobel has come to Breakforth and told us his story. An intellectual, an atheist, he went on to research Jesus in an attempt to debunk Christianity. His 2-year search led him to write The Case for Christ; The Case for Faith among others, changing not only his career path but his soul-direction in life. He wouldn’t, couldn’t turn back~

Riqa Bary, the Ohio teen who converted to Christianity from Islam, was subject to a massive legal fray, which would have cowed most mature Christians. She patiently stood firm in the midst of all the turmoil of public scrutiny, in the midst of ovarian cancer, in the midst of family disunity. In the midst of it all, she wouldn’t, couldn’t turn back.

Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Baptist minister, had a daily execution proclamation hanging over his head in the dreaded Evan prison. Even with a family and underground congregation to consider, Youcef kept his faith alive. Throughout the torture, throughout the trials and throughout the loneliness, Pastor Youcef prevailed. Following his release, he continues to fight the good fight in an oppressive atmosphere. Inexplicable to his captors, the man who converted to Christianity in his teens, would not and could not turn back.

Recently at the University of Alberta Hospital an elderly retired nun named Priscilla Edwards was seen daily walking the halls, sharing her Faith. Remarkably, she was bent at the waist at about a 90@ angle. Nothing kept her from pursuing her purpose, her joy, her love of a LORD who was her very personal Savior. Her disfigurement caused her undue pain. The twinkle in her eyes with her serene composure brought patients comfort as she put them at ease. Stories still abound of her lifetime of service in spite of being unloved as a youth in a Chicago ghetto. She wouldn’t and did not turn back.

As ordinary people we may find ourselves in extraordinary situations wondering how we are able to manage. As we share our faith with others one answer clearly sheds a light in a passage of Scripture.

So, as the man who had a ‘mighty revelation’ on the road to Damascus wrote in a letter to ordinary people in a far-away Church: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.
And, we know that the power of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, through the power of His love, mercy, and grace is infinitely greater than what we don’t know.

Therefore, we wouldn’t, couldn’t turn back~