Written by Rachel Denison
Where do I even begin?
Recently Craig and I had the opportunity to travel to Greece and Turkey on a Bible study tour and follow the footsteps of Paul. We had the grand honor of leading worship in some of the most significant places in the world. Some of the highlights for me were Mars Hill over looking Athens were Paul preached his famous sermon before the day's leading philosophical leaders in Acts 17, the grand theater in Ephesus where a riot broke out after Paul's teachings and many Christians were martyred for their faith in Jesus (Acts 19), and Patmos Island where John the beloved disciple was exiled for his faith and received the Revelation.
Singing Kari Jobe's Revelation Song where John received the Revelation is not a memory I'll soon forget. The significance of each place we stood and worshipped was astounding. Time and time again, thankfulness filled my heart. Not only for the sacrifice of Jesus, but for the sacrifice of his disciples to get the Gospel to people like you and me. Centuries later, Christians are returning to the places where those great apostles laid down their lives.
As gratefulness swelled within me, I began to imagine the cost counted by each of them. Would I be willing to do the same? I wondered at the degree of sacrifice in Paul's heart and where something like that comes from? He was a man on a mission, face set like a flint on the task at hand. He did not look from the left or to the right, but kept his eyes fixed on Jesus, running the race set before him. Am I running? I don't know that I could say that... It's probably more like a soft jog. Even so, when I look within I don't presently see what it takes. I think Paul was very serious when he said, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
I don't think Paul was quoting fluffy Christianese. I think this truth was his life-line and the only thing that kept him going. He really didn't love his life. In Revelation 12:11, John writes of the people of God, "And they have conquered him [the enemy] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death." What a strong, powerful statement of those who will overcome-- they loved not their lives even unto death.
Because of that statement, centuries later Craig and I were able to stand half way across the world and sing, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come! With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings. You are my everything and I will adore You!"
One of things Jim Denison reiterated on the trip was, "You cannot begin to measure or imagine the impact of your present faithfulness." Paul and John had no idea that centuries later Christians would be returning to the very places they were laying down their lives for Jesus. I think that makes the weight of the Great Commission less on our shoulders and more about each of us simply doing our part. I would encourage you to take a moment to ask God what your part is in his grand story? Each day, it's been my prayer that God would do a supernatural work in my heart that I might consider my life lost for his sake. That I truly would "count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:8).
As we left Greece, my heart resounded with the sure and steadfast truth that Jesus is worthy. That is the only way any of this was or is possible. Just as Paul knew this deeply in his soul, may we do the same.