I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. II Tim 4:7.
I was in standing in the chapel, ten minutes from addressing the graduating Christian medical and dental students. Pam Rusher called my cell phone and told me that her husband, Buck, had just died. Buck Rusher was a surgeon and friend who practiced in Arkansas for many years until the Lord called him and Pam to serve Him in Mongolia as medical missionaries. They did so with joy. A brain tumor brought him home and took him to Heaven. As I moved from the phone to the pulpit and shared with those new doctors, I was speaking from Buck’s life.
Buck Rusher has completed his race and won the prize. What can we see in his life that will help us as Christian doctors do the same with our lives in a world with so many distractions? What are the key principles for the Christian walk that will allow me to complete my race in a way that pleases God? These six apply whether times are good or times are hard.
- Focus: “Therefore holy brothers, who share the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus.” (Heb 3:1) We are created for the purpose of knowing and loving God. Whatever the distraction: success, failure, sin, relationships, sickness or pain, when we take our eyes off Jesus, we are in danger of losing our way.
- Mission: “You will be for me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation…” (Ex 19:6) Either life just happens or we are here with great purpose in our lives. Buck and Pam know the truth. Our purpose is twofold: one is to live in relationship with God and His children; the other is to be the bridge across which others can find their way to our King. If we are living that mission, we are on the right path.
- Surrender: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mk 8:34) We have got to get the ownership question out of the way. Oswald Chambers put it this way, “The essence of sin is my claim to my right to myself.” Whether it is direction, or time or money, or reputation, or family, unless we surrender them to Him, we will take a wrong turn in the race of our lives.
- Love: “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (I Jn 4:16) Nothing works God’s way unless love is in it. And God’s love is not a warm feeling of affection. God’s love is willing and acting in a way that seeks the best for others. It is the Cross demonstrated in our lives.
- Community: “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph 4: 4-6) No one, not even a doctor, was ever called to be a solo Christian. We are called to Him as a community of believers and we will drift from Him if we are not deliberate in our fellowship with one another.
- Faith: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place that he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Heb 11: 8) It was faith that took Pam and Buck to Mongolia. It was faith that calmed Buck’s fear when facing death and it was faith that allowed Pam to let him go. God does not lead His children through a tame and reasonable life. Only by faith can we follow.
Focus, Mission, Surrender, Love, Community and Faith: this was Buck’s way and he has recently received from his King the reward I long to gain, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
let me remain grateful for the lives of those I follow and help me leave worthy footsteps for those who come after me. Amen