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Afraid? Of What? 443. March 30, 2023

KEY SCRIPTURE ! Corinthians 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

RELEVANCE Comedian Groucho Marx once said about death, "I intend to live forever, or die trying."

I think this is how some of us western Christians treat life. We're very busy keeping the thought of our death as far away from us as possible. When confronted by it, fear takes over. Yet Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna in the second century AD, martyred for his faith, said a Christian's duty is to be ever-preparing for death.

Our perception of the afterlife—our faithless fear of the unknown—has much to do with it.

On our pilgrimage to the promised land, Christians become afraid of many things. Christ calls them molehills, yet we call them mountains, and the fear of death is the steepest of all. But the end game is to be completely void of fear so nobody can take anything from us. Neither goods, money, family, friends or anything else has power over us to deny our Saviour. It's a tall order, but we only have one God and one afterlife, and our faith determines the grace which allows entry. We remove fear, the enemy's most significant power, when we've given everything to our Saviour in faith.

I stumbled across this heavenly poem and found it a handy tool for opening fear and removing its batteries.

THE STORY The years leading up to World War II were perilous for missionaries to China. Political uproar, bandits, the Japanese invasion, and the Communist Revolution caused many to fear for their lives.

One of the missionaries, Jack Vinson, was seized by bandits and carried off into the night. A witness later described how she had seen Vinson threatened by a bandit with a revolver who said, "I'm going to kill you. Aren't you afraid?"

"No, I'm not afraid," Vinson replied. "If you kill me, I will go right to God." He was shot and beheaded.

The news of Vinson's martyrdom deeply moved the Christians in China.

When missionary E. H. Hamilton heard the story after emerging from another bandit-infested area, he wrote a poem that became the watchword for the missionary community during the dark days that followed. And it could be ours!

THE POEM Afraid? Of What?

Afraid? Of What?

To feel the spirit's glad release?

To pass from pain to perfect peace,

The strife and strain of life to cease?

Afraid—Of What?

Afraid? Of What?

Afraid to see the Saviour's face,

To hear His welcome, and to trace,

The glory gleam from wounds of grace,

Afraid—Of What?

Afraid? Of What?

A flash – a crash – a pierced heart;

Brief darkness – Light – O Heaven's art!

A wound of His a counterpart!

Afraid—Of What?

Afraid? Of What?

To enter into Heaven's rest,

And yet to serve the Master blessed?

From service good to service best?

Afraid—Of What?

Afraid? Of What?

To do by death what life could not –

Baptise with blood a stony plot,

Till souls shall blossom from the spot?

Afraid—Of What?

PRAYER Dear Lord, there is so much turmoil in the fear of death that it paralysed the mind that submits to it. Please help me believe deeper and better understand the beautiful transition from body to spirit.

Photo by Mads Schmidt Rasmussen


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