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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Not the Retiring Type

Occasionally, I think I should slow down. After all, I reached threescore years and ten two years ago. I mentor 120 aspiring writing students, serve as interim pastor for a church 47 miles from home, and face deadlines as I write for publication.

Perhaps I should string a hammock in the back yard, lie in it, drink lemonade, read good books, and let younger men mentor, preach, and write.

Who am I fooling? I’m not the retiring type. I stay busy by choice, and I enjoy the opportunities God has given me to serve Him.

I appreciate how Henry Martyn, an Anglican missionary to India and Persia in the early 1800s, viewed ministry. “Let me burn out for God,” he quipped. In the last seven years of his life he translated the New Testament into Hindi, Persian, and Arabic. I would call that burning out for God.

Henry Martyn further expressed his desire to burn out for God in the following poem:

“And when I am dying, how glad I shall be
That the lamp of my life has been blazed out for Thee.
I shall not care in whatever I gave.
Of labor or money, one sinner to save.
I shall not care that the way has been rough.
That Thy dear feet led the way is enough.
And when I am dying, how glad I shall be
That the lamp of my life has been blazed out for Thee.”

I recall what Kenneth Wuest, my Greek teacher at Moody Bible Institute, said more than fifty years ago. “The servant of the Lord is immortal until his life’s work is done.” You and I cannot accurately predict the number of our remaining days on earth, but let’s choose to burn out for God instead of rust out.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).

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