In his book, The Ruler Who Serves, Ray Stedman tells the story of Julius Hickerson who was a brillant young doctor. He was poised for a very successful career and a wealthly life as a physician here in the United States. But something unexpected happened.
God called Julius to be a missionary to Colombia. When he told his family and friends his plans to move and serve in Colombia they all thought he was crazy. “Why are you leaving a very successful career and moving? You are wasting your life. Look at all the money you will lose.”
For a long time it looked as if his family and friends were right. Dr. Hickerson worked long hours in remove villages helping and treating patients and sharing the gospel. The people, however, were resistant to the Good News of salvation. At the end of two years of serving and helping and sharing the gospel, not a single person accepted Christ.
One day Dr. Hickerson was on a small plane flying supplies to a remote village, but he never arrived. The plane crashed and the doctor was killed. His friends were right, or so it seemed—a wasted life. Dr. Hickerson had done some good, but ultimately died for nothing.
A couple of years had passed, and the missionary organization that had sent Dr. Hickerson to Colombia, the Southern Baptist, decided to send another missionary to Colombia. The plan was for this misssionary to resume the work that Dr. Hickerson had started. Once the missionary had arrived in the region where the doctor had died, he found out something amazing. All the tribesmen were Christians.
As the new missionary explored, the more Christians he found. Churches were built and the whole area had been Christianized. The missionary asked, “How did this happen? Where did you learn about Jesus Christ?” The villagers replied, “From this book.”
After the plane crashed, the villagers found a Bible that had been translated into their language. They began to read the Bible and passed it around for everyone to read it. As they read, one by one, they gave their life to Christ and then they began to build churches. After hearing this amazing story, the missionary opened the Bible and saw a name written on the inside: Julius Hickerson.
A wasted life? No life is ever wasted when that life is committed to following Jesus Christ. As you begin a new year submit your life to what God wants for you this year. Take to heart the words of our Lord, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:29-31).
According to Jesus, there is a tradeoff we make for His sake. We gain by losing. By sacrificing what is temporary, we gain what is eternal. We refuse to place value on what will eventually pass away, for what will endure throughout the ages. We let go of that which fleeting, to take hold of that which is of infinite worth. This is why living for the Gospel is the smartest investment one can ever make. As missionary martyr Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” -DM