For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6–8)
I remember listening to a sermon years ago by Fred Craddick. I don’t remember the title or even the text, but he was preaching on God’s call that we would be sacrifices. He said that he thought God would ask him to write one big check that he might die a martyr, but he said instead God had been nickeling and diming him to death his whole life.
Not all martyrs are killed in the arena by wild beasts, or on the blade of a sword, or at a point of the gun. Some martyrs are nickeled and dimed to death. Such is the martyrdom of Lottie Moon.
Lottie Moon was a missionary to China at the turn of the twentieth century. You only have to read a thumbnail sketch of her life to get a sense that she was a ball of fire. At a time when female Protestant missionaries were expected to be satisfied teaching young girls in schools, Lottie traveled to the interior of China as an evangelist. Hundreds put their faith in Jesus Christ due to her work.
Lottie was no stranger to disease, war, and famine during her time as a missionary in China. In 1912, at the age of 72, Lottie became emaciated due to giving away her food to those she believed to be in greater need. Fellow missionaries convinced her to return home, but she died in Japan en route to the US.
A martyr not by sword, or gun, or beast, but a martyr nonetheless. A martyr by self-sacrifice. A martyr by love. A martyr by the shadow of the cross.
Like Paul, Lottie was poured out slowly, nickeled and dimed her whole life. For her, however, like anyone willing to live under the shadow of the cross, there is laid a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award on that day. May the same be said of us.
Heavenly Father, give me the strength to fight the good fight, to finish the race, and to keep the faith. Give me the strength to be poured out as a drink offering for others. In the name of the one who sacrificed himself for me, Jesus Christ, my Lord, amen.