«No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us» (Philippians 3:13, 14).
There’s a well-known hymn I always use to teach the Present Perfect verb tense in English. The tense is characterized by referring to actions that began in the past but are still relevant in the present. And the truth is when we decide to follow God, it’s a decision that has to be ongoing in our lives.
According to various sources, the lyrics of the hymn «I Have Decided to Follow Jesus» are based on the last words of a man from Assam, in Northeast India, who toward the end of the nineteenth century decided to follow Christ along with his family thanks to the efforts of an English-speaking missionary.
The village chief tried to make him renounce his faith, but he declared, (‘I have decided to follow Jesus.)) In response to threats against his family, he said, «Though none go with me, still I will follow. » The man had to make the extremely difficult decision to allow his wife to die because he wouldn’t give up his faith.
He was executed sometime later while the phrase, «The world behind me, the cross before me» sprang from his lips. That expression of faith led to the conversion of the chief of the tribe and many people from his village.
From those phrases uttered at different times, an Indian missionary composed the hymn and entitled it «Assam,» in honor of its place of origin.
Although we don’t know for sure whether that story is true or not, thanks to numerous biographies and Ellen White’s inspired writings, we know that many Christians decided to seal their faith with their lives. Be it at the stake, the gallows or by facing wild beasts in an arena, those who were faithful witnessed through their life and even more so through their death.
Have you ever wondered what song would be written about you?
God has called us to follow Him. Forgetting what’s behind us, let’s make a firm decision and stand by it until we reach our final goal… no turning back