Is it right or natural to expect or desire martyrdom?
Despite my desires to become a missionary and serve the Lord ever since I can remember, I was not interested in martyrdom. It wasn't that I just didn't want to die, but that I was concerned for those I would leave behind and that it seemed like a waste of potential ministry. Surely there was far more to be gained by living a long life of ministry rather than having my life cut short because of my love for Jesus.
However, all of that changed one night in high school. I was about 15 and I woke up completely overwhelmed with how much God loved me, how much he'd done to save me, and of course how much I wanted to serve him. Throughout my life before and after I've had many such instances. It is beautiful to be overcome by love and overwhelmed with a desire for service. It has been times like this that has convinced me that I will never be able to rest unless I am a minister of the gospel.
Yet, on that night it was different. I was suddenly aware of my own reluctance to be a willing martyr, not for my own safety, but the care and comfort of those I left behind. It seemed so selfish to go to be with Jesus while I would leave friends and family behind to grieve.
However, suddenly I was aware of a peace. Someone seemed to be saying to me that God would take care of those I left behind, and I realized that dying for the sake of the one who died for my sake is actually of incredible value relationally.
So I did the only rational thing to do, I immediately began begging God to let me serve him as a martyr. To take my life completely over as his and to send me into whatever because I knew that he would be there all the way through and especially out on the other side.
I began to ask that I would be counted worthy to suffer for the sake of the name of Christ.
I never got a definite answer that night and finally fell asleep crying with joy and humility at his love for me, and as a result my own adoring of him.
I never got a definite answer that night, but since then I've had a sneaking suspicion that that night was no accident and should not be merely discounted as a foolish nightmare (or good dream).
At the time it happened I thought that surely if I was to be a martyr I should remain single, so as to both be better devoted to God in the life I have, and for the sake of my wife becoming a widow.
I've been cautioned by some not to "sacrifice" marriage too quickly since God does not require all his servants to give up that blessing.
However, as of late I have been renewed in my heart that these callings in my heart are not vain imaginations, but there is in fact no reason not to follow them.
I bear the names of two ministers of the gospel who paid dearly for their message. Isaiah and Paul, of whom it was said, "I must show [Paul] how much he must suffer for my name's sake."
What's in a name?
The whim of the parents? Either way the hand of God is most certainly present.
I do not live as though my martyr's death has been clearly predicted, but I see no reason not to begin living as though my time is not long. God often takes our vows seriously and I have (as good as) vowed to serve him into martyrdom if he wishes.
Am I ready to endure all things now? I doubt it, but in the end it doesn't matter how much pain you can endure, it matters who you love, or rather who loves you. I have been loved with an everlasting love which can take away any pain and make me an honor to his name even unto death.
If I live, I live for Christ, and if I die, it is even better. For then I shall see face to face the one whom my heart most desires. There is no other who fills my heart with such happiness.
So I set my face to endure whatever cross lies in store for me because of the joy which is set before me—my Beloved's glorious face shining like the sun!
As some would say, "Take me home daddy!"