Just yesterday I read a story that greatly moved me. It made me ask myself if I am valiant enough. Imagine with me, if you will, that you are an aristocratic woman born about 150 years after the death of Christ. This would place your birth date at approximately 183 A.D. You were born to a pagan family living during the time of the Roman Empire.
Your family is wealthy. You have all that you need for a comfortable living, and more. Your slaves attend to your needs and you are free to study and enjoy life.
You have a place of respect and enjoy elegant society gatherings. And when people see you in the streets they show a certain reverence.
Then one day you hear of a Man who had died about 150 years before you were born. He wasn’t just any man. Those who have taught you tell you that He was the Son of God. He was crucified for the sins of the world. And He overcame death by arising three days after being placed in the tomb.
He came to teach you a better way to live. He came to save you from your sins. He is your Redeemer. And His teachings are beautiful. As you learn of Him your heart burns and you feel a love you have never felt before.
You become so convinced that this Jesus of Nazareth was who He said He was, that you desire baptism to follow in His path. Your parents plead with you. They know well of what awaits you in the Roman Empire during this time. You will become one of the dreaded Christians. As such, you will be fed to the wild beasts in a coliseum, tortured, and driven from polite company.
You listen to their pleadings. But your heart knows the truth. It knows that this Man of whom so many belittle really was who He claimed. There is no other way. It is true.
So you make your decision. You and a small group of friends are baptized. And just as promised, you are taken to prison. This forces a separation from you and your newborn child. You begin to pine in prison, knowing that by the moment, your baby grows weaker from not nursing.
The guard has compassion on you. He allows your friends to bring your baby to you for sustenance. But the day arises, the day that you will be brought with your friends to the coliseum to face the wild beasts in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of jeering Romans.
You grip those close to you and make your journey to that place. Finally, you are offered one last time to turn your back on your new found Christianity. You refuse. In fact, you stand side by side with one of your slaves, who is weak from having given birth two days before the pending martyrdom. Your regal presence hushes the crowd, an unusual occurrence, this quiet in a coliseum.
Your last thoughts as the hungry lion and bear are released are . . . ?
This story is summarized from the actual journal, amazingly preserved, of a young Christian follower named Perpetua. She was an aristocrat whose life could have been one of relative ease. But she died for her new found faith in Jesus Christ. She was valiant in her faith, and valiant to the end.
Learning of this woman has deepened my faith tremendously. I cannot imagine the thoughts coursing through her mind as she held her babe one last time. Or her thoughts as she watched her slave girl birth her own baby two days before death by beasts. This small band of Christians refused to renounce their love of the Lord and thus underwent a painful death.
What of me? What am I doing today to live in such a way that I refuse to bow down to society’s gods? For that is what young Perpetua had refused to do. She sacrificed greatly for her faith.
Am I willing to do the same? Am I willing to at least pick up my scriptures daily to sup from His word, the same word so many in history have died for?
I’m sorry to say that some days I do better than others. But after having read of Perpetua yesterday, I am determined that no day will pass again– through till the end of my life– without my having worshiped the Lord at least through scripture study. If Perpetua could die for the Lord, I can begin certainly to live for Him!
Indeed, some of the best study aids and resources for understanding the scriptures and applying them are by learning from the valiant around us.