Catch Fire And Play To Win the Game


“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  Jim Elliot

Denzel Washington has a new film out called The Equalizer which is strikingly similar to what I believe was his best film, Man on Fire.  In the 2004 film Man on Fire, Denzel plays a former assassin who swears vengeance on those who committed an unspeakable act against the family he was hired to protect.  In this film he is “on fire” – burning with a desire to right wrongs and cancel-out, nullify and negate bad and belligerent forces that have come against those he is sent to serve.

Athletically speaking, great athletes who play at the top of their game are said to be “on fire.” They play like they are “possessed;” they seemingly cannot miss, everything they do is on-time and on-target and they win the game for their team.  However, winning at life may not look and feel like we think it should.  Just ask martyred missionary Jim Elliot.

Spiritually speaking, Jim Elliot was a man on fire. Jim and Elisabeth Elliot are two dynamos that should be household names.  I read their story again for the first time and had to fight back tears and fight back jumping up to fight anything and everything that is wicked and wrong and wide of the mark.  Their story is classic.

January 2, 1956, was the day that 29-year-old Jim Elliot had waited for most of his life. Jim was a missionary to Ecuador and died a martyr in 1956.  Jim and the four other missionaries he worked with were murdered by the very Acua Indians they went to evangelized.  In a supernatural turn of events that only God could arrange, Jim’s wife and the wives of the other four martyred missionaries won the Acua Indians to the Lord by their love and longsuffering.  Their story is told in the book, Through Gates of Splendor, The unforgettable true story of these five men who braved Auca lances and were martyred for the sake of the Gospel.  It was written by Elisabeth after her husband’s death.

Jim seemingly was groomed by God and planned to be a missionary all of his life.  The trip was not without controversy, as family and friends alike all tried in vain to dissuade him from his destiny.  He wrote this in his diary on the voyage to Ecuador:

My going to Ecuador is God‘s counsel, and my refusal to be counseled by all who insist I should stay and stir up the believers in the U.S.  And how do I know it is His counsel?  Yea, my heart instruteth me in the night seasons. Oh how good.  For I have known my heart is speaking to me for God.  No visions, no voices, but the counsel of a heart which desires God.

The crazy, scary, creepy crawly part of the story is that Jim KNEW he would not live long, and it’s as if he marched to his death knowingly.  Spiritually speaking, it was strangely surreal and oddly otherworldly.

                “Life is not here, but hid above with Christ in God.”

Jim was a man of destiny; Jim was a man on fire.  He met his “fate” at the hands of the Acua Indians, but because of his love for God and his desire see this native nation won for Christ, he prayed this prayer:

He makes his ministers a flame of fire.  Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame. But flame is transient, often short-lived.  Canst thou bear this my soul – short life?

While not all of us are called to be martyred missionaries, we are called to be a flame of fire and to be saturated with His Spirit for whatever we do, be it football or baseball, hockey or golf, we are called to be our all and to give our all for Him.  .

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