Friday, July 5, 2013

I give you my neck...

I watched part of it. I didn't want to, but I was strangely drawn to the video that was purportedly of a priest being beheaded by a mob of Muslims. I listened to the language I couldn't understand being spoken and then to the indecipherable shouts as the man in ropes was thrown forward and the barbarous act of beheading began. I was thankful that the crowd blocked my view as the camera rolled. It was only after the butchering was done that I saw the head held high by the man in black who'd done the deed. I shut down the site at that point. I was sickened enough.

Ever since I watched this murderous act, I've been thinking. Back in the 70s, I watched my fair share of end times movies. I remember one scene in particular from one of the apocalyptic thrillers. A man of faith was walked up several steps to a guillotine and his head was removed in a split second. My heart was in my throat, but I decided then that if I was called upon to give my life for Jesus, I could do it.

The feelings I had while watching what I believed was a gruesome martyrdom were much different at first. The length of time it took from the first cut to the finished decapitation was longer than the quick and relatively painless death of the man in the movie. I imagined how awful it would be to feel the first stroke of the blade across the neck. I wondered how long the pain continued after the vocal cords could no longer scream. Thinking about it made me sick. I felt for the priest who turned out to not be a priest as he lost his life at the hands of evil men.

My perspective has changed over time. The time of the cutting wasn't really all that long. Maybe a minute. While not pleasant, at least not as pleasant in thought as death by guillotine, it would be endurable. I've suffered pain for longer already. Granted, the pain I've gone through hasn't had the additional fearfulness the surety of death must bring, but still I've tasted agony once or twice. It is bearable for a minute or two or three.

This realization has led me to pray a prayer that may sound strange to some. I've been praying, "Lord, I give you my neck." I know martyrdom may never be my lot in life, but I want to make sure the decision is made now to choose Jesus over life. If I wait, I'm afraid I might chicken out when the large knives come out. My heart is in my throat again, but I know I could do it endure even the worst death imaginable with God's strength. It was, after all, his power that got Jesus through the much longer and more agonizing execution he suffered through.

"For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:2-3)

Jesus has had my heart to do with as he pleases for many years. I choose today to give him my neck too. However he can use it. It is his.
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