It is late Sunday night. The Festival is over. Missions in the Manse II is over. The all-night prayer is over. Nineteen weeks of preaching on the Holy Spirit are over. I have said farewell to Tom and Julie for six weeks. My wife and sons are in Nebraska. The house is very quiet. The words of my own sermon ring in my ears: The Spirit will help you die.
With tears welling up in my eyes I have just read the account of John and Betty Stam. They would have been 77 years old this year. They graduated from Moody and went to China as missionaries with CIM. They served from September, 1932, to December, 1934. Thursday, December 6, the Communists swept into their village and took them captive. They were 25 years old, and had a one-year-old daughter. Saturday, December 8, the Reds announced in the streets that the foreigners would be executed. Reason: “The foreigners have ruined China…” They were led, stripped of their outer clothing, to Eagle Hill outside Miaosheo. The baby was left behind. John Stam was ordered to kneel before his wife. While speaking softly a young soldier beheaded him with a huge sword. Betty did not scream. She trembled and lay down on John’s body. The same sword was lifted, and Betty joined her husband before the King of kings.
The rending depth of emotion in such a moment overwhelms me. The shame of being stripped, the terror of the pain, the hideous sorrow of seeing a lover beheaded, the last thought of little Helen abandoned.
Dear people, life is short and life is precious. Don’t waste it on superficial things. Grow deep. Get ready to die well. Give yourself unreservedly to what matters. Fling away sham. Be real with God and real with man. Cherish the eternal in everything. Take hold of life which is life indeed. Turn off the television. Turn off the radio. Why should mere man choreograph your emotions? O, for more deep individuals and fewer herd people! Go deep with God. Be alone. Come forth like humble steel. There is no other way to die well. Nothing is more lonely than dying. If your life is not deep in Christ alone, death will be a terrible thing. Get ready. And in getting ready you will be the deep aroma of God in a tragically superficial world.
It is good for me to be alone in a big house. No jokes about my cooking. I have food to eat that you know not of. I would not trade this midnight moment with the Stams for all the beef in Nebraska. Pentecost ended eleven minutes ago. But he is here. And we are going into the mines together. I have heard stories about the gold deep, deep within. Come.