I heard a song a few weeks ago while I was busy and distracted, as is so often the case. But the thing that caught my attention was the bagpipes I heard at the end of the song. I was aware of the melody, which was very sweet, but I did not hear the words.
Of course I asked ‘Alexa’ the name of the song. “She” obliged with “This Is Your Time” by Michael W. Smith. I noted this so I could look it up later and hear the whole thing with my full attention. Then I had to read not only the lyrics, but the story behind the song.
It’s a true story about a young girl who refused to be intimidated. Even by a person with a firearm in his hands ready to shoot and kill anyone who answered his question in the affirmative. That question?
“Do you believe in God?”
Anyone who dared to answer yes was immediately shot in the head. This young woman, the subject of the song, without hesitation, told her captor and assailant, “Yes.”
The scenario, true and occurring not so long ago, is incredibly humbling to me, and I’m sure to many others. The question we must now ask ourselves is, “How would I answer?”
How would I answer that question in that precise circumstance? Gun to my head, disturbed man with a rage I can’t comprehend, so all encompassing his being, that he wants to murder innocent people he doesn’t even know: what would my answer be?
There’s no time to decide. Our martyr just knows. But, of course, because I am not that beautiful, brave girl, I have time to decide what my answer would be. Part of my decision is, and has been for a while now, to pray now for the grace of God to keep me faithful and strong in the face of persecution for my belief in God.
We have many Christian martyrs (witnesses to the truth) to learn from, down through the ages. These are people who willingly died because of their steadfast faith in God. And I have to believe that grace is what saw them through the torture, oppression, persecution, and ultimately their deaths.
Grace in this instance is a participation in God’s life. Grace breaks through and touches, blesses, strengthens. Basically, the Holy Spirit comes into the life of a person, who loves God beyond all telling in a special way, and helps that person in their martyrdom. None of us knows when we’ll die or if we will die well. We can hope, but we can’t know.
This example about a modern day martyr that I’ve just recently learned about can’t just be a story I tell myself or other people. Listen to this young lady speak about her faith at the beginning of the video (link below) and hear her words that she lived by and would die by, with the grace of God.
In today’s Lectionary, the alternate reading on this Feast of the Archangels, Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, is from the Book of Revelation, Chapter 12. John tells us that Christians conquered the evil one, by the “Blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; love for life did not deter them from death. Therefore, rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them.” I’m confident we can count Cassie among their number.