A voice said, “Shout!”
I asked, “What should I shout?”
“Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” ~ Isaiah 40:6-8 (NLT)
In 1743, 24 year-old David Brainerd entered full time ministry. Though sick with tuberculosis, and urged by his friends and family to take a simple and safe pastorate, David chose instead to minister to the Native Americans living in the forests of present-day Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Because of this choice, David was frequently exposed to hunger and cold, lost in forests, caught in storms with no shelter, and forced to spend night upon night in the woods. One of his journal entries records, "About six at night I lost my way in the wilderness, and wandered over rocks and mountains, through swamps and most dreadful places. I was pinched with cold and distressed with an extreme pain in my head and stomach, so that much blood came from me. But God preserved me, and, blessed be His name, such fatigues and hardships as these seem to wean me more from the earth and I trust will make heaven the sweeter."
By his twenty-eighth birthday, Brainerd's health was failing fast and he thought about following the advice of friends and family and settling down in a more traditional pastorate. Realizing though that he did not have much longer to live, he resolutely determined to "burn out to the last."
His journal records, "Farewell friends and earthly comforts; farewell to the dearest, the very dearest of them all. I will spend my life to my latest moments in caves and dens of the earth, if the kingdom of Christ may thereby be advanced."
Brainerd would die at the age of just twenty-nine.
Contrast David Brainerd’s life with a story from the excavation of the Roman city of Pompeii. Archeologists uncovered the body of a woman found mummified by the volcanic ashes of Mount Vesuvius. Her position told a tragic story. Her feet pointed toward the city gate, but her outstretched arms and fingers were straining for something that lay behind her. The treasure for which she grasped was a bag of pearls. The focus of her life at that point would be her undoing.
This truth is no less applicable to each of us today. The focus of our lives will determine the direction of our lives.
Every day heroes are focused on the eternal regardless of the cost or consequence.
What is your focus?