The toughest man I ever met lived in Central Asia. He had killed over 150 people with his own hands, most of them invaders attempting to subdue country and his Muslim peoples. He killed many by slitting their throats, allowing their blood to run down his hands and arms as a sacrifice to Allah.
After years, he began to dream, seeing spots of blood in the palms of his hands. This grew until blood was running down his hands, arms, and off his elbows. He knew this was the blood of those he killed. He thought he was going hopelessly insane when he began to see the blood even in his waking hours. No amount of scrubbing would take the blood away.
Before he could kill himself, he had another dream. Here a man, clothed in white, with scars in his hands, brow, side, and feet appeared to him. From within a bright light this apparition said, “My name is Jesus Christ. Find me and I can take the blood away. He searched for Jesus for six months, in three countries, until he’d found and heard enough stories to know Jesus and why God had sent him. He became a follower of Jesus.
Immediately he left the squad of 15 men he had been leading and began smuggling Bibles and other materials back into his country. After doing this for some years, he was captured by those same 15 men he had led. They began to beat their old commander viciously, planning to kill him quickly. Yet before they could accomplish their task, a believer in Jesus Christ within these 13 men, known only to God, made this appeal to his comrades. He said, “Let me take our old commander to the next village and get him medical care. I’ll patch him up. When you return from your patrol you can torture him more carefully in order to discover the traitors to Islam on both sides of the border. The others readily agreed to this plan of action and our believing brother smuggled the toughest man I ever met out of the country.
I listened to story after story for over six hours. This brother was the nearest one to the apostle Paul I had ever met. At the end of our time I inquired about his believing wife and children. I asked him how his wife and three children were incorporated into his ministry. The toughest man I ever met leapt from the dark corner in which had kept his features unclear, grabbed me by the shirt-front, and began shouting in my face, “How can God ask it? How can God ask it? I’ve given him everything that I have. I have been frozen, beaten, left for dead, and imprisoned. Yet the one thing that I fear when I go to bed at night is that God will ask of my wife and children the same thing that he has asked of me. How can God ask it?”
How would you answer his question?
Over the next few minutes I described my family to this new brother. I told him that my wife and youngest child were safe in America, while our oldest son was secure in University. Then I chose to tell him about our son who died of an asthma attack on Easter Sunday morning in Nairobi, Kenya. I told him that Tim was buried at the school he and his brothers attended. At the end of my narrative I said to this brother, “You’re demonstrating through your life that Jesus is worth everything you are. But I want to know, is Jesus worth it? Is he worth your life, the life of your wife, and the life of your children?
The toughest man I ever met threw his arms around me and wept.
Drying his eyes he said to me, “I am going to go and get my wife and children. I am going to incorporate them into everything I do because I have no right to cheat them out of the joy of suffering for Jesus.”
I ask you the same question. Is Jesus worth it? Is he worth your life and the life of everyone and everything you love? Or are you cheating those you love (& yourself?) out of the joy of suffering for Jesus? Is Jesus worth it?