And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
In the early 1800s, a young missionary named Adoniram Judson wrote a letter to his future father-in-law.
In it, he wrote asking for the hand of Ann Hasseltine:
I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean, to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left his heavenly home, and died for your and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteousness, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall resound to her Savior from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?
(Quoted in Courtney Anderson, To The Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson)
It’s difficult to imagine receiving a request like this for a daughter’s hand in marriage. But when laid against the backdrop of the Great Commission in today’s devotional verse, I realize exactly what Jesus’ command to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” might mean for any follower of Jesus.
Adoniram Judson did marry Ann. And they did spend their lives together in the mission field (primarily in Burma). However, Ann’s decision to marry Adoniram was not an easy one. But when she did decide to do so, she wrote this in a letter to a friend:
I feel willing, and expect, if nothing in providence prevents, to spend my days in this world in heathen lands. Yes, Lydia, I have about come to the determination to give up all my comforts and enjoyments here, sacrifice my affection to relatives and friends, and go where God, in his providence, shall see fit to place me.
The Judson’s risked everything to obey Jesus’ command. But not simply because they were so good, but because they were so convinced of the “world of glory” awaiting those who belong to Jesus.
Adoniram’s letter, and Ann’s too, helps us see that the conviction to share the message of Jesus Christ flows from our great desire to be with him, and to have the whole world join us as well.
What is the great desire driving your life?