I spent an hour yesterday afternoon listening to an audio recording of John Piper speaking about the life of Adoniram Judson. (The audio and written files can be found here). At times I wept unashamedly. I felt convicted and challenged by such an amazing family (he had three wives and many children) and their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. And, I felt saddened by my own spiritual poverty.
Piper records the events leading to Judsons death in this way,
…the old sicknesses attacked Adoniram one last time. The only hope was to send the desperately ill Judson on a voyage. On April 3, 1850 they carried Adoniram onto the Aristide Marie bound for the Isle of France with one friend, Thomas Ranney, to care for him. In his misery he would be roused from time to time by terrible pain ending in vomiting. One of his last sentences was: “How few there are who . . . who die so hard!”
At 15 minutes after 4 on Friday afternoon April 12, 1850 Adoniram Judson died at sea, away from all his family and Burmese Church. That evening the ship hove to.
“The crew assembled quietly. The larboard port was opened. There were no prayers. . . . The captain gave the order. The coffin slid through the port into the night. The location was latitude 13 degrees North, longitude 93 degrees East, almost in the eastward shadow of the Andaman Islands, and only a few hundred miles west of the mountains of Burma. The Aristide Marie sailed on toward the Isle of France.”
Ten days later Emily [Judsons wife] gave birth to their second child who died at birth. She learned four months later that her husband was dead. She returned to New England that next January and died of tuberculosis three years later at the age of 37.
The Bible was done. The dictionary was done. Hundreds of converts were leading the church. And today there are close to about 3,700 congregations of Baptists in Myanmar who trace their origin to this man’s labors of love.
Here is one line that Judson wrote to missionary candidates in 1832, that summed up his amazingly sacrificial level of commitment:
“Remember, a large proportion of those who come out on a mission to the East die within five years after leaving their native land. Walk softly, therefore; death is narrowly watching your steps.”
Maybe the problem is I have never died. Jesus said I have to.
Luke 9:23 (ESV) And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Matthew 10:38 (ESV) And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Get down on your knees and die!