A True Witness
By Jim Allen
A man was standing on a path looking at something in front of him. No one was nearby. No buildings and no roads, except for another path crossing at the center where he stood. The man's eyes were transfixed on the crossing. He wasn't quite sure what to make of it. He had stood at other crossroads before but this one was different.
This crossroads had a sign nearby wedged in the dirt that said, "If you decide to go on, there is no turning back. If you turn back now, you will never know what could have been." The tone of the words struck a chord within the man. Taking this path could mean losing friends, giving up lifelong dreams, ending a career or more. It could even cost him his life. But the path could also lead to a life beyond imagination.
The word crossroads is an idiom or phrase. It is a saying based on a literal meaning. People use the word to highlight important decisions in life. It means to consider one's options carefully before deciding on a path. It means to count the cost (Luke 14:33). It means that whatever you decide has the potential to change your life forever (Matthew 7:14).
Though the story of the man at his crossroads is made up, the truth about the crossroads is not. In a way, it's your story and my story. It's everyone's story who professes faith in Christ (Romans 10:13). Sooner or later, today or tomorrow, and one by one we decide what to do about the cross with our name on it. Do we take it up, ignore it the best we can, or walk away?
Many people have written about this application of crossroads. It has come to symbolize a real decision with real consequences. In fact, Jesus didn't pull any punches when he gave those followed Him an ultimatum. The old adage, "It's my way or the highway" applies in this instance. Jesus challenged His followers to seriously count the cost (Luke 14:27-28).
Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life" (John 6:68).
Peter, and those who stayed on the chosen path with him, knew of no one else speaking the words of life. They, the few, the faithful, and the committed would go on to experience the wonder chronicled in Acts 2. Those who turned away would in time come to realize the full meaning of, "You'll never know what could have been."
Years ago Jake (a brother-in-law) came home on college break with a friend, both toting Bibles. During a visit to my house the three of us talked hours into the night about the Gospel. It was a great time, filled with enthusiastic debate and thought-provoking questions. I was hopeful Jake would one day make a decision regarding what Jesus said, "Who do you say that I am" (Matthew 16:15).
Six months later he did. The Bible was gone and so too were the opportunities for sharing. He shut down every attempt to talk about his former profession of faith. From what could be gathered, some students mocked his faith. It was a form of persecution he didn't sign up for. He didn't like it. He didn't want any part of it. There may have been other reasons too, but this is the one that most likely led him to count the cost. Like so many do, he didn't want to pay it and turned away.
Today Jake avoids his Christian family members. He does not understand why he feels uneasiness in the presence of just one believer. (2 Corinthians 2:16). His profession of faith was like a shallow root that gladly received the warm light of truth but then quickly dried in the scorching sun of persecution (Matthew 13:20-21).
In a complete flip from Jake is another person who stayed the course. She would not turn back. Her name was Rachel Joy Scott. When asked by her assailants if she believed in God, she said, "Yes" and paid the ultimate price during the Columbine High School massacre seventeen years ago. Her unyielding profession of faith was rooted in good soil and would never be uprooted by intimidation (Matthew 13:23).
This modest, seventeen-year-old became famous for staying on her path. She loved God and people, a sweet spirit to be sure. I found a quote written for Rachel on a website someone set up in her memory. The quote says,
"I am not going to apologize for speaking the Name of Jesus, I am not going to justify my faith to them, and I am not going to hide the light that God has put in me. If I have to sacrifice everything...I will." (Source)Rachel took up her cross and literally gave her life (Matthew 16:25-26). Rachel's love for God was greater than her love for self. Rachel gave up her hopes, dreams, and possessions; she gave up family, friends, and her very breath for the cause of Christ. She took up her cross. She was a true disciple (Luke 14:27).
As for us, we live in virtual safety compared to other parts of the world. Giving up one's present life to gain an eternal life is hard to fathom. But then the opposite is also true. Jake gave up a life he could never earn for one he would surely lose (Matthew 10:39).
Whereas Rachel's faith was in God, Jake's faith was in self, having wrongly believed Christ would be nonentity going forward and his eternal fate hardly a concern. Sadly, Jake may never know what could have been.
Rachel's passing struck a deep chord in many. Of course, her sacrificial act reminds me of Jesus but also of a song entitled: "I have decided to follow Jesus." The lyrical words are harmonious and bring forward the idea that a true commitment will never allow one to turn back even when going it alone against impossible odds.
In closing, twelve students and a teacher perished in 1999 but not in the way we think and surely not in the way the two evildoers intended. To the world their passing was horrific. But, to all near and far and to you and me, the faithful witness of one person (and possibly others) was bold, notable, and for the cause of Christ.
I don't know if Rachel Joy Scott can read this article. But if she could I would simply say to her: "Thank you for showing true faith. You did not turn back! You took up your cross. You laid down your life. Though gone too soon, you are a beautiful soul. Your memory will never fade among those who choose remember. You are a true inspiration!"
Note 1: If you would like to learn more about taking up your cross, click on this link.
Note 2: There have been conflicting stories as to whether or not both Rachel and Cassie Burnall were asked that question that would cost them their lives, whether only one of the girls was, or whether neither was. Rachel's parents maintain their daughter was targeted because she was a Christian and that videos which were part of the investigation prove that she was harassed by the gunmen for her faith. Cassie's mother wrote the book She Said Yes, obviously because she believes her daughter died a martyr. It is clear, however, that these young ladies lived lives of faith. They represented Christ, and their legacy is one of commitment to their Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. May both Rachel Scott and Cassie Bernall's legacy become our own. (Source)
Image Credit: Unsplash; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Biblical-Truth | Witnessing-Evangelism
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