I have been driving my wife crazy lately with talk of death. I am not, in general, a morbid type fellow. Sometimes I think about these things, especially when I am about to make a long plane flight into a semi-safe area where I do not speak the language and stick out like a sore thumb.
Here’s the bottom line: I could very easily get myself killed in India. I could get robbed, martyred, catch malaria, or die screaming in a prop plane surrounded by chickens. It has happened before, and it will happen again.
I have a lovely wife and a ten month old son. I love them both dearly, and even if I live, I will miss them terribly. I dread the separation. I dread the extreme poverty I will witness. I dread wondering if the vendor just seriously short changed me. I dread the case of Montezuma’s revenge that I will most likely get. I dread having to use the squatty potty. I dread the heartbreak. My giddy notions of romantic missionary conquest are tempered by a healthy dose of depraved reality. With all of these things to dread, I do not need to have the added burden of worrying about dying. The shots that I have to get today are enough in themselves to make you anxious: Hepatitis A-Z shots, Yellow Fever, Tetanus, Typhoid, and I have to start taking malaria pills. Oh death, how do you hound me? Let me count the ways….
So why go? Do I go because one person getting saved will be worth all the sacrifice? Yes! But the fact of the matter is, no one may be saved at all. I could die before I ever land in India. Or, I may go there and preach and no one care. Or, I could preach and they could care enough to pick up stones and smite me. If no one would be saved, if I knew that for certain…would I still go? What if I knew that I would go there and die and no one would be saved, would I still go? Even if I knew that my son would be left fatherless and my wife a widow? Would I still go? Can I say with Paul, “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem…” Die for what, Paul? “…for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).
Even if no one were saved, I would go. If I died for holding fast to the good confession, I would go. Even if I leave my son fatherless and my wife a widow, I will go. I go because Jesus Christ is worthy, not because the people are. If I should die screaming in an airplane, or get knocked in the head by a Muslim or Hindu or Christian, I go knowing that this is a price I am willing to pay for the sake of His Name.
My wife would grieve, but she would give me up as a fragrant offering to the Lord. I trust that in time my son would come to see the all-surpassing greatness of God in Christ, and that he would not only be thankful for my testimony, but be willing to go forward and do the same should the Master bid him. Even if no one in India believed, I know that I do not live or die in vain. My God who sees and searches the heart knows that I am bound to Him in conscience, in love, and in hope.
I have given you, and myself, the worst case scenario. But is it really so bad? I don’t think so. Not if you believe in a God who is good, merciful, and compassionate, and One who truly works all things to the good of those who love God.
I am a pastor serving in my hometown of Albertville, Alabama. The greatest evidence of God's grace in my life are my wife, son, and daughter. One look at me and then my wife will tell you that her "yes" was a modern day miracle. Otherwise, I am almost completely mundane.