by Johnny Smith
Although I have often heard people recommend biographies, I haven't read one through since college. Other types of books were always more appealing to me with what little time I had left after reading dental periodicals. Also, I am a slow reader and often end up not finishing a book that I've started. However, I was very glad when our Wednesday morning men's group decided to read a book called 7 Men by Eric Metaxas. It contains a series of short biographies that would allow me to broaden my knowledge of history without having to read several thousand pages and to see what I have been missing.
The lives of the men in this book span several centuries, starting with George Washington and ending with Chuck Colson. The best part is that they all were devoted Christians and the author clearly describes how God gifted and directed all of them to be powerful influences for good in our country and the world. Most of these men experienced extreme hardship that could be only endured with the aid and comfort of God's word and the Holy Spirit.
For example, Eric Liddell was adored by thousands for his amazing Olympic running comeback and yet left it all to serve the Lord at a mission in China. He was eventually taken captive by the Japanese and spent his last years in a prison camp. Never seeing his family again, he died while serving other prisoners and teaching them about Jesus.
Jackie Robinson survived relentless verbal abuses and mistreatment in order to break the color barrier in professional baseball. His strong faith gave him courage to resist the urge to fight back. He knew that to do so would have caused him to lose the respect of the public and undo the progress he had made. Eventually this strategy prevailed and he won the admiration of his fellow players and the public.
But my favorite was Chuck Colson. His life fell apart when the Watergate scandal was revealed and he became a scapegoat. At that time, he knew very little about the God of the Bible, but the emotional pain and guilt led him to cry out to God one night on the side of the road. His conversion brought tears to my eyes, knowing the pain that he must have felt and the relief that God gave to him at that moment. He was later convicted and sent to prison where he started to tell other prisoners about Jesus. This led to group meetings and later became the Prison Fellowship ministry. It contributed to hundreds of Christian conversions and opened up prison systems to the word of God. It is an amazing story of the redemptive power of God in the life of one man.
All of these men found themselves in a pivotal time in history when they chose to take the narrow and difficult path through life for the good of mankind. It is easy to see God's hand working through them as they sought His guidance every day. I am reminded of Matthew 17:20. "For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you".
I hope this book will inspire you as it did for me, to step out of your comfort zone in the name of Jesus.