Unless we are careful, we can be deceived by the Enemy’s whisper that tells us, “This obedience stuff is too hard. Abraham was only able to do what he did because God was showing such extraordinary favor to him. You’re just an ordinary, struggling human being with a lot of problems. You could never achieve that kind of life. Maybe Abraham could do it, but not you.” If we believe this lie, we are sure to remain spiritually stagnant, never walking any closer with the Lord. We need to remember that Abraham was no superstar—he had the same struggles and emotions as you and I.
You see, whenever God invites us to make radical commitment, He always does it with the promise that His grace is sufficient for us to obey whatever He tells us to do. God always seeks to do the most impossible things through weak, struggling people. The only requirement is that we come to the place of total surrender and absolute trust in Him, just as Abraham did.
The truth of the matter is that God has people in every generation who walk with Him and know Him intimately, just like the great saints of old—Abraham, Elijah, the apostle Paul and many others. All over the world today, there are humble, broken saints who quietly walk with God and experience the same blessing as Abraham experienced. And the living God calls each of them His friend.
You and I are given the same privilege, the same opportunity and the same invitation that God gave to Abraham. But this will never become a reality in our life without our willingness to sacrifice.
The life of Adoniram Judson is a classic example of an ordinary man who made a significant impact upon his generation because of his love for the Lord, his obedience and his sacrifice.
Adoniram Judson was the first missionary to go to India and then on to Burma. He was born and raised in an average family, and as a young man he had the call from God to leave his familiar surroundings and go preach the Gospel in those faraway nations that had never heard of Jesus.
It was in 1810, as he was getting ready for his departure, that he met a young girl named Nancy Hasseltine. He fell in love with her and wanted to marry her, so he sought permission from her father.
In his book How Saved Are We? Michael Brown tells the Judsons’ story, including this excerpt from the letter Adoniram wrote to Nancy Hasseltine’s father:
I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteousness, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair? 1
To Nancy’s surprise, her father allowed her to make the decision. No doubt, she decided to marry Adoniram, and with full understanding of what lay ahead—leaving home and country with a one-way ticket for the sake of the Gospel, maybe never to return again. She was willing to make this commitment, in absolute obedience following the living God. Brown continues to write:
In spite of some fears, she knew she could rest in the faithfulness of God, although, as she said, “no female has, to my knowledge, ever left the shores of America to spend her life among the heathen; nor do I yet know, that I shall have a single female companion. But God is my witness, that I have not dared to decline the offer that has been made me, though so many are ready to call it a ‘wild and romantic undertaking.’ “
The Judson’s labored for almost seven years before winning their first convert. After nine years they had baptized only eighteen. . . . Their first baby was stillborn during their initial voyage from Calcutta to Burma. Their second baby Roger died before reaching his ninth month. Adoniram himself was brutally imprisoned for seventeen months during a crackdown against all foreigners, barely surviving the horribly inhuman treatment. One night, while his raw and bleeding feet were hanging in elevated stocks, swarms of mosquitoes settled on his bare soles, producing excruciating torture.
Then, not long after his release from prison, Adoniram’s beloved wife Nancy died. Her constant life of sacrifice and service had finally taken its toll. Just a few weeks later little Maria, their third baby, was suddenly taken from this world. Judson was left utterly alone in a hostile Buddhist land, almost shattered with pain and grief.
Before him lay the prospect of tiger infested jungles, bat infested houses, and a fever infested climate—for life. Behind him lay an almost unimaginable trail of hardship and loss. But he did not leave off from his work. He did not abandon his Bible translating or his preaching and teaching labors. How could he? Eternal souls were at stake. Who else could reach the Burmese as well as he? So he remained for over 20 more years, returning to America only once—and that for necessity, not by choice.
. . . Adoniram Judson’s devotion for life was not in vain. On one occasion, during the great annual festival held at the towering golden Buddhist pagoda in Rangoon, he recorded that he had distributed “nearly ten thousand tracts, giving to none but those who ask. . . . Some come two or three months’ journey, from the borders of Siam and China—‘Sir, we hear that there is an eternal hell. We are afraid of it. Do give us a writing that will tell us how to escape it.’ . . . Others come from the interior of the country, where the name of Jesus Christ is little known—‘Are you Jesus Christ’s man? Give us a writing that tells about Jesus Christ.’ ” For Judson, it was worth it all. Today there are more than one million Burmese believers.2
Can you imagine what would have happened if Adoniram had not obeyed the Lord and followed Him? What a loss that nation would have suffered! What millions of souls would have never found their way to heaven! But because of his sacrifice and obedience, his life was blessed and he became a blessing to millions.
My friends, this is the way of true blessing: walking in the fear of the Lord and following Him at all costs. By His grace, may we all walk His path of life, living our lives for His glory and offering our bodies “as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1, NIV).
1 Michael Brown, How Saved Are We? (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 1990), p. 97.
2 Ibid, pp. 97–99.
© 2003 by KP Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.