By Fred Craddock, page 155, Craddock Stories, ed. by Mike Graves and Richard Ward, Chalice Press, 2001.
Have you ever listened to a sermon in which the lineup of illustrations were Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa, and missionaries who had their feet frozen off in the tundra of the north? As a young person sitting in church listening to those stories, I just sat there swinging my legs over the pew, saying to myself, It’s a shame you can’t be a real Christian in this little town. Nobody is chasing or imprisoning or killing Christians here.
Then I went away to summer camp to Bethany Hills. It was an inspiring time, with a night of consecration around the lake, and candlelight, and just everything about it so moving. We sang, “Are Ye Able?” I went back to the dorm and lay on my bunk and said to God, “I’m able.” I said, “I’ll give my life for you, Lord,” and I pictured myself running in front of a train and rescuing a child, or, swimming out and getting someone who was drowning. I pictured myself against a gray wall and some soldier saying, “One last chance to deny Christ and live.” But I would not deny my Lord and I bravely confessed my faith, and they said, “Ready, aim, fire.” The body slumped, the flag was at half mast, and widows were weeping in the afternoon. Later a monument is built, and people come with their cameras. “Johnny, you stand over there where Fred gave his life. Let’s get your picture.”
I was sincere then, as I have been these forty-five years since. “I give my life,” I said, but nobody warned me that I could not write one big check. I’ve had to write forty-five years of little checks– 87 cents here, 21 cents there, then a dollar three cents; an endless stream of small sacrifices.
I’ve been just nibbled away at this giving of my life for Jesus.
“It is easy to die for Christ. It is hard to live for Him. Dying takes only an hour or two, but to live for Christ means to struggle every day.”
–Sadhu Singh, Indian Christian missionary (1889-1929)
Luke 9:23-4 — Then Jesus said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
II Timothy 2:11 — It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him.
Luke 16:10 — (Jesus said), “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”
Matthew 25:23 — (Jesus said), “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
Here I am, Lord. Send me.