In the 1960’s I read the book Through Gates of Splendor. It thrilled me, and deeply disturbed me at the same time. I was particularly moved by the pictures of the five speared bodies of young missionaries who gave up their lives in order to reach the Auca Indians in the South American jungles.
The impression made upon me was so great that I knew I had to give my life to follow Christ no matter where he led me, or what the cost or sacrifice. Little did I know at the time that when I began to look for a Christian college, in 1968 when I was in my second year at the University of Alabama, Wheaton College would be the place where God led me. I am often asked, "Why Wheaton?" The answer is really very simple. I wanted to study, and learn to preach the gospel, in the place where Billy Graham had matriculated in the early 1940’s and where Jim Elliott, Ed McCulley and Nate Saint finished college a few years after.
Time after time I walked into Edman Chapel, during those years at Wheaton, and stopped to look at the bronze plaque on the chapel foyer wall that reminded me of the sacrifice of those young men in the Ecuadoran jungle. Often I asked God to use me to win the lost as I pondered their sacrifice again and again. I never got over their story. I have still not gotten over it thirty-five years later.
What still grips me is their simple message of complete coommitment and total sacrifice. Eliott’s famous saying, "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose" speaks to my soul with power even today as I pray for the grace to live and preach well. I am at the end of a seven day mission in Seattle and Santa Cruz, California, and look with vision and longing at the beginning of fresh ministry in the days ahead.
What I am praying for is even more clear to me now. I pray that I will be increasingly clothed with power from on high! I had lost this desire, for many years, in the world called academic theology. I am not saying everyone looses it there, but I certainly did. I became convinced that an argument was superior to an enduement. I learned that polemics could very easily replace power, especially if you had a quick mind. But this cry for the power of the Spirit has come back with a deep passion of late. It has been developing in me for some time and this week it has come back like I have not known it since I was in seasons of revival in the 1970’s. I am willing to be seen as a fool if this means knowing and experiencing the power of the Spirit upon my life and ministry again.