Today I found a book I had laid on my desk weeks ago. It was "Devotions for Men on the Go," by Stephen Arterburn. I opened it and it randomly fell open to this devotion. It struck me as worthy of sharing. I hope it moves and challenges you as well. Enjoy.
"Even if my life is to be poured out like a drink offering
to complete the sacrifice of your faithful service
(that is, if I am to die for you), I will rejoice,
and I want to share my joy with all of you."
A Matter of Honor
"About an hour into United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco on September 11, 2001, terrorists commandeered the cockpit, herded the passengers to the back of the plane, and turned it back toward a target in Washington, D.C. Among those passengers were four remarkable men who didn't much like being herded around.
One was 31 year old publicist Mark Bingham, who had helped the University of California win the 1991 and 1993 national collegiate rugby championships. He was six foot five, rowdy and fearless. One was 38 year-old medical research company executive Tom Burnett, who told his wife over the phone, "I know we are going to die. Some of us are going to do something about it." One was 31 year old businessman Jeremy Glick. He called his wife, Lyz, at her parents home in Windham, New York, to say good-bye to her and their twelve-week-old daughter, Emmy. The other was 32 year-old sales account manager Todd Beamer, who had played third base and shortstop over three seasons for Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.
These four brave men apparently came up with a plan to storm the cock-pit and attempt to wrest control of the aircraft from the terrorists. Flight 93 never made it to Washington. Instead, it crashed into a field eighty miles southeast of Pittsburgh. All passengers and crew perished. Nobody on the ground was killed.
What will you do when it is your turn to be poured out for the sake of others?
Dear God, may I value honor more than survival."
Jesus said, "Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). I wonder if it might not be just as hard (if not harder) to lay down your life for strangers you would never meet -- like these men who's heroic act saved the lives of countless many in whatever the target was to be in Washington, D.C. All on board did die, but if the terrorists were allowed to continue on unchallenged, it would have been all on board plus many more in D.C.
Self-sacrifice is never easy. It goes against our survival instinct, and with few exceptions goes against the sway of our self-focused society. Whether it be offering one's life up to death for others, or dying to self daily, by, "considering others better than yourself" (Phil. 2:3) it does not come easy. Yet, it is an expression of imitating Christ in His condescension, sacrificial love, and self-emptying humility (Phil. 2:5-11).
We admire such things in Jesus, but sometimes forget that, "our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant and being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death -even death on a cross" (Phil 2:5-8). Such humble and sacrificial love is part of following His command to, "love one another as He has loved us."
So, maybe I could put Mr. Arterburn's last prayer this way: "Dear God, may we value the opportunity to imitate Christ in His humility more than self-interest, self-protection and survival."
Only as we lean on Him, Pastor Jeff