Orignially submitted to the Faithwriters.com Writing challenge 18 February 2016.
(This entry is appropriate this week since Commisioner Harry Williams was “Promoted to Glory” – as we say in The Salvation Army – last Sunday 7th August 2016 at the age of 103)
Some people have an amazing zest for living. During his active service, Commissioner (Dr) Harry Williams revolutionised The Salvation Army’s medical services around the world, pioneering work in some of the remotest places. Yet in his well-deserved retirement he continued to advise The Army on medical matters: in his 70s he performed an operation at the hospital in Cochabamba, Bolivia that bears his name; he continued to travel abroad in his 80s, and at 95 he published a book. When I took him to Salvation Army events he would discuss the latest medical and technological developments, he continued to paint (as he had done all his life) and made games for his grandchildren.
I can think of others who continued to show unflagging energy despite heavy schedules, dangerous experiences and advancing age. When the ten Boom family were arrested in occupied Holland for hiding Jews from the Nazis, they were sent to concentration camps where all but one died. Already in her fifties when released in December 1944, Corrie set up a home for Jews who had been liberated. Later she travelled the world until her death at age 91, preaching about the need for forgiveness – a remarkable message from a woman who saw her sister murdered in Ravensbrück labour camp.
Following his conversion, Billy Graham became one of the greatest evangelists of the 20th century, filling stadiums, and using television and satellite broadcasts to reach millions with the gospel. In 2006 he preached his last public sermon. Yet he was so determined to continue spreading the news of salvation through Jesus that in 2013, to celebrate his 95th birthday, Billy Graham recorded a DVD message entitled “The Cross – my Hope”
Each of these remarkable people (and many more whom we never hear of) were only following in the steps of the apostle Paul, who suffered beatings, shipwrecks, imprisonment and a host of other trials (2 Corinthians 11:23-27), yet he never abandoned his calling.
We could easily feel discouraged in the face of such seeming superheroes of the faith. Yet the secret for each of them was the same: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NIVUK)
O Lord, may I learn the art of leaning on you, just like Harry, Corrie, Billy and Paul, so that whether the task I face is great or small, I may do it in your strength.