A small number of people are absolutely committed to the performing arts, athletics and military readiness. In order to excel in concert halls, ball fields and battle fields, they organize their lives around intentional personal disciplines. We call them virtuosos, stars and warriors.

A small number of people are absolutely committed to spiritual growth. In order to excel, they organize their lives around intentional personal disciplines. Jesus calls them Disciples. Our culture often calls them fanatics.

Our society celebrates someone investing all their time, energy and resources so they might make the winning basket, perform a concert or accomplish a special ops mission behind enemy lines. But sell out for God?

Adonirum Judson was America’s first international missionary. In 1811, as he prepared to move for the remainder of his life to Burma, he sent a letter to the father of Ann Hasseltine asking for her hand in marriage. He wrote, “I have to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; to the dangers of the ocean, the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; every kind of want and distress; degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps even a violent death.”

Here we need to pause and ask: is this the kind of guy you want dating your daughter?

There are two things worth noting: Ann’s father said yes. And virtually everything in Judson’s letter came true. He and Ann suffered incredible hardships and she died of a tropical fever at the age of 37.

So why did her father consent to this life altering decision? Perhaps it was the next paragraph in Judson’s letter. “Can you consent to all this for the sake of Him who left his heavenly throne and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing immortal souls for the glory of God…in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteousness brightened with the acclamations to her savior from the heathens saved?”

The Judsons left behind over 100 Burmese churches, their influence still being felt 200 years later. 

Whatever we choose to be fanatical about will determine the course of our lives.

-Rev Dr William Lewis