Whether I Am Eaten By Cannibals Or By Worms

(click play for a few peaceful moments while reading)

It was about 8:30pm and I walked through Trader Joe's for a rare shopping trip alone. Not wanting to waste a moment of the euphoric time, I grabbed my earphones to listen to one of John Piper's biography sermons on my phone as I shopped. 

Consumed by the inspiring account of John G. Patton's life, I distractedly made my way through produce and frozen food, and by the time I reached for a jar of peanut butter my eyes welled up with tears as Paton recalled the incredible impact his father had on his life.

Paton lived in the late 1800's and his life was marked by trial and suffering all for the sake of spreading the love of Jesus. As he embarked on a life-threatening journey to move among cannibals, a colleague warned him, 

 "The cannibals! You will be eaten by cannibals!"

But to this Paton responded:

Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my Resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer. (source)

And just like that, death has lost it's sting.

A desperate need for security and safety permeates our culture, often at the expense of others who are suffering elsewhere. Do you feel it?

Oh how much I have to learn from these laborers of the past who, though they were very imperfect, learned that it's not padding life with possessions that comforts, but the Holy Spirit, and often that comfort is felt most clearly in the midst of a worldly lack.

There's a young woman's faithfulness that blows me away. Adoniram Judson was a missionary to Burma in the early 1800s. As he and his soon-to-be wife, Ann, made plans to leave for uncharted territories, knowing full well they would likely never see their families or homes again, Ann wrote to her friend, Lydia:

Yes, Lydia, I have about, come to the determination to give up all my comforts and enjoyments here, sacrifice my affection to relatives and friends, and go where God, in his Providence, shall see fit to place me.

I was taken back by what she was saying. It's monumental. 

For most of my life true stories of history have proven deeply inspiring and encouraging to me. They assure me of the fact that we are never alone in our experiences, our trials, our surrender to the Lord. We need not fear. 

How wise John Piper was when he said:

Oh how fortunate we are... that we are not the first to face these things! I thank God for the healing of history. Do you read history? Or are you slipping into the abyss of the present? It is an abyss, brothers!

You cannot know yourself, or your times, or your God if you only know the present. I bless God for history in books.

I thank God for the healing history of the power of God in the lives of saints. I urge you for the sake of your own survival: live in other centuries and other saints.
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And it's not only the stories of strangers that have influenced me, but those from my own family. There is something weighty about watching home videos from the 50's and seeing my Nana as a young mother. The brevity of time sinks in and I don't want to waste a second with my own little family. I love knowing the people who make up my past. 

So in the moments while I do dishes, paint a picture, or fold laundry, these lives from the past are changing mine. Here are a few of my audio favorites by John Piper:

 

Suffering and Success in the Life of Adoniram Judson: The Cost of Bringing Christ to Burma

 

The Ministry of Hudson Taylor As Life In Christ, Missionary to China

 

You Will Be Eaten by Cannibals! Lessons from the Life of John G. Paton

 

Oh, That I May Never Loiter On My Heavenly Journey! Life and Ministry of David Brainerd

 

Suffering and Service in the Life of John Bunyan

 

Last, one of my favorite stories of faith: Darlene Deibler Rose - a missionary and POW during WWII. Her love for God brings me to tears.

Be inspired, friends. And may our inspiration move us to action.

For a few other favorite biographical or historical reads like The Hiding Place, The Shadow of the Almighty, and A Chance to Die take a peak at the Favorite Books tab.