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“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person,                                                           though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.” (Romans 5:7)

Twenty-one-year-old Nathan Hale was forced to make a moral decision. Born in central Connecticut in 1755, he was reared in a Christian home. His father Richard Hale was deacon in the local Congregational church and his older brother was on the way to also becoming a pastor. During Nathan’s college years at Yale, the colonists were in constant friction with England. He heard fiery speeches in behalf of freedom. By the time he took his first teaching job, war was a distinct possibility. Hale joined a Connecticut regiment in 1775 and served in the successful siege of British-occupied Boston.  By written accounts, it is noted that while in the army – Nathan showed great character. When morale dropped, he divided his extra pay with his men. When his comrades became ill, he visited and prayed with them. When Washington sought a spy to penetrate the British lines to get information, Nathan Hale was the only volunteer. In the summer of 1776, he posed as a civilian and crossed behind their held territory on Long Island to spy on the British. Dressed in farm clothes and carrying his Yale diploma, he passed as a Dutchman seeking a school position. He went through the entire British location, estimating their numbers and sketching their fortifications. He took notes in Latin, and while returning with the intelligence information, British soldiers captured Hale near the American lines and charged him with espionage. He immediately acknowledged his true identity, as his notes were found in his boot. Taken to New York, he was hanged without trial the next day. On the morning of September 22, 1776 – Hale wrote a letter to his mother and brother, but the British destroyed them not wanting it known a man could die with such conviction. As he prepared to die, he calmly spoke. The last words attributed to him were – “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

What are those things for which you would offer your life? Perhaps you would enter into a risky surgery that would save the life of someone you love. As a parent, you would run toward danger when you realize that your child has found themselves in a perilous situation.  As a young person, we might fantasize about becoming a fireman or a police officer. Then we grow up to discover that these first responders are potentially placed into harm’s way each time they are called to serve. The story is told of how author and speaker Brennan Manning came to better understand the deep love of God. Brennan had a best friend named Ray. They hung around, double-dated, and even bought a car together. In time they enlisted and served in the same military unit. One day the two friends were in a foxhole when a hand grenade landed in their midst. Ray looked at Brennan and quickly jumped on top of the bomb. It exploded and killed him instantly. Sometime later, Brennan went to visit Ray’s mother. He asked her, “Do you think that Ray loved me?” She replied by saying something to the effect of, “What more could he have done for you, Brennan?” Jesus said – “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13), and then He did just that when He died on the cross for you and me.

The truth of the matter is, few of us will ever die for another person; however, all of us have the opportunity to put others first on a daily basis. Making others’ needs more important than our own is the sacrifice expected of us when we belong to Christ.  “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). Taking up our personal cross is a call to absolute surrender. Evangelist Oswald Chambers once stated: “It is much easier to die than to lay down your life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling of God. We are not made for the bright-shining moments of life, but we have to walk in the light of them in our everyday ways.” Taking up our cross daily requires at a minimum that we will lay down our lives for others through sacrificial acts of giving our time, possessions, personal plans, and even asking the question – am I willing to follow Jesus if it means losing my life? As Nathan Hale so profoundly expressed, our only regret then will be that we only had but one life to lose. Except this time . . . it will be for our Savior.

REFLECTION:  The Apostle Paul said, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better” (Philippians 1:21). How might you apply is words in your walk with Christ? If there comes a point in your life where you are faced with a choice—Jesus or the comforts of this life—which will you choose?


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