Summary: What vision do you have for your life? Where do your dreams come from? What motivates all that you do?
A Vision in Your Heart – A Bible in Your Hands - Matthew 25:14-30 - September 23, 2007
In 1428, at 16 years of age, Joan of Arc began her journey into the pages of history. To all outward appearances there was nothing remarkable about this young woman – she was a simple peasant girl from a similarly simple village in France – yet the story of her life is anything but ordinary. Joan’s entire existence – from birth till death - was spent in the shadow of a war between the French and the English – a war that had already ravaged her country for nearly 100 years. The very village where her family made their home had been leveled by marauding armies on more than one occasion yet each time the resilient villagers had rebuilt their homes and carried on. Joan’s life, too, was destined to be remarkable but it was also fated to be short. By the age of 19 she had been burned at the stake as a heretic. Yet in those last three years of her life this incredible woman transformed the hopes of a nation. At a time when women were considered second class citizens, Joan, with no military training or equipment of her own, went from being an unknown peasant girl to being the leader of the French army. She was wounded three times – once by an arrow to the shoulder – which she pulled out herself so she could ride back into battle – once by a stone cannon ball dropped on her helmet as she scaled a ladder while taking a city – and once by a cross bow bolt to the leg as she was riding into the fight. Yet none of these things deterred her from what she understood as her life’s mission. At 17 years of age she won for France it’s first victory in over a generation and in the months following that auspicious day, Joan won for the French, “an astounding series of victories that reversed the tide of the war,” and saw a king receive his crown. [Historian Stephen Richey].
Martin Luther King was a Southern Baptist preacher and a leader in the Civil Rights movement down in the United States in the middle of the last century. He had a way of helping people see what could be, rather than what was, and before his assassination he galvanized a nation with his “I Have a Dream,” speech – a speech in which he looked to the day when a person would not be discriminated against based on the color of their skin. It is a speech and a dream which still resonates with people today more than 40 years later and it has been called the greatest speech of the 20th century. And while he did not live to see that dream come to fruition he certainly helped to set it in motion.
Amelia Earhart was another remarkable woman who has found her way into our history books. In 1937, during an attempt to fly around the world, she and her navigator Fred Noonan went missing. To this day there are dozens of theories as to what happened to her and while her legacy is forever tied to the world of aviation her first impression of an airplane was less than inspiring. At the age of 10 she saw her first aircraft and described it as “a thing of rusty wire and wood and not at all interesting.” Yet at 22, having had her first flight, she was hooked for life. She took a job driving truck and working at a telephone company in order to pay for her flight training. Each day she would take the bus to the end of the line and then walk the remaining four miles to the airfield for her daily lesson. Yet despite these challenges, within 6 months she had bought her own aircraft and set an altitude record – and all this before she had even been issued her pilot’s license! And before she took off for the last time, on the flight that would captivate the heart of a nation, and ensure her place in history, this single minded woman had set numerous aviation records and inspired generations of women.
That is just a brief glimpse into the lives of three individuals who led extraordinary lives and who, in ways great or small, left an impact on the world in which they lived. And I share their stories with you this morning because I want to get us thinking about the power a single life has to transform the world in which we find ourselves. Because the truth is this: We’re each given one life to live and we’re each going to be held accountable for how we live that life. Our days here on earth are finite, they’re numbered, God holds them in the palm of his hands, and these days, in light of eternity, are incredibly short, they are remarkably brief, yet we will be called to give an account for how we’ve lived them.