For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
– 2 Timothy 4:6-8
I awakened with a heart fill of complaints tucked away in the back pocket of my attitude.
My body groaned as I rolled out of bed. I stretched, trying to unkink my muscles for the long day ahead of me.
I padded downstairs in my polar bear robe, put on the coffee, and took the dog out for her morning walk. There was still a chill in the air, but spring was trying to shame winter into hiding behind a stone-gray sky. Bits of green grass erupted beneath the dead weeds on the hillside, shading it in a day-old leprechaun beard.
Back inside, with my bowl of cereal in one hand and a cup of fresh coffee in the other, I slouched into my office and fired up the computer. I plopped into my ergonomically designed, padded chair and sighed.
Some days were so tough.
I totally planned on feeling sorry for myself that day. But when I opened the day’s news, one image before my eyes blasted my pity party to dust.
On the shore before a dull gray sea knelt twenty-one men in the white sand, dressed in orange jumpsuits, hands bound.
Behind each prisoner stood a terrorist swathed in black and armed with a knife. The prisoners were singled out for execution for just one reason: They wore the name of Christ.
I stared, transfixed, at the picture. I studied their faces. What goes through a man’s mind when he is about to give up his life? A few stared stoically ahead. Others hung their heads in resignation. Perhaps they filled their eyes with the last images of life on earth. Surely they grieved for their loved ones and the heartache of leaving them alone in such a cruel land. They must have been praying for strength, for it to be over quickly.
According to news reports, the men were ordered to lie down. Simultaneously, twenty-one martyrs for the Lord Jesus Christ were beheaded for their faith. The earth received their offering as their blood poured out into the pristine sand beneath them.
I sat in my chair with my lukewarm coffee and my tears, ashamed of my own poor attitude. These men and their families had given everything for Christ. From the moment I had awakened, I had only given Him complaints and an ungrateful heart. Their lifeblood was their offering to God.
What could I, the petty one, give a King who inspires such devotion?
Praise for another day of life and safety would be a good start. Seeing others face death with such courage, I could try living with joy. I could offer thanks for the gifts of eyes to see my world, feet to walk through leprechaun grass, and the good health to enjoy it all.
Most of all, I could give my life as a sacrifice to the worthy One. Like those before me, I could reach for the crown of righteousness, dying to sin and watching always for His coming.
I could live to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. By the grace of God, I will.