I keep this piece of paper taped to my computer at work and on my wall at home. It’s small. Only I can see it. But I really need it. I need to read it on the days when I have a deadline, or run from meeting to meeting. I need it on days that feel overwhelming in a much bigger sense – like when tragedy happens, or a friend is hurting. I need it on days that are calm and open and on days when my heart is breaking.
I came up with these statements one day after reading Stephen’s speech to the Jewish authorities in the book of Acts just before he was stoned to death. The speech is one of the most incredible recitations of God’s redemptive plan in Scripture and ends with words that call followers of Jesus to a certain type of living that is revolutionary:
When they heard [Stephen’s speech], they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’
At this, they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him…
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he said this, he fell asleep.
Stephen is near the top of my list of people I would love to meet one day. He was bold in speaking the message of Christ. He stood on the truth in the face of death. He forgave the people who dragged him on the ground through the city and threw stones at him until he died. He stayed connected to Jesus, holding onto him right through to his end. He was unafraid even as he spoke to authorities and knew it was likely he would be killed. He committed his spirit – all that he was – to Jesus.
I’m not going to face what Stephen faced in my lifetime. Most of us won’t. But, I want to live like he did in my context – with my family, with my friends, and in my work.
What about you? Do you need a sign on your computer or wall? What would it say?