There have been many conscientious men who lived the gospel they preached and preached the gospel they lived as they sacrificed to serve their Lord. We think of them just as John wrote, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13). While we miss them and their contribution to the Lord’s work, we are confident that they are among the blessed dead because they died in Christ. We pay our tribute to them for a well run race and a hard fought battle. We commend their good example.
Yet, we are left to wonder, “Who will rise up to take their place?”
We are confident that the providence of the Lord will continue to watch over his people. Every time there has been a need for a great leader, he has raised up the man for the job. He raised up Moses to deliver his people from Egyptian bondage, Joshua to lead them in the conquest of Canaan, fifteen judges to deliver his people from encroaching enemies, the kings, and the prophets.
In the church, he raised up twelve men to serve as apostles through whom the word of God was revealed. We admire the faith of Peter, James, and John and the others. We read in the New Testament of outstanding men of faith in addition, such as Paul, Silas, and Barnabas, and many others.
As we leave the pages of inspiration and turn to our memories of men who have served in our country, we think of several spiritual leaders: Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone, Jacob Creath, and many others whose names go unheralded, although their contribution are not insignificant. We have witnessed in our lives how God has raised up men for the occasion needed who are willing and able to do his service.
We have complete confidence that the Lord will raise up leaders for his people today, just as he has in past times. Mordecai expressed such confidence when he exhorted Esther to step forward and do her part to deliver the Lord’s people from Persian destruction. He said, “Think not with yourself that you shall escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if you altogether hold your peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but you and your father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esth. 4:13-14). Just as God raised up leaders in the past, so will he today. The more relevant question is this, “Am I willing to make myself available to his service?”
Conclusion: The question is that asked by E.E. Hewitt in the song, “Who Will Follow Jesus?”: Who will follow Jesus, Standing for the right, Holding up His banner In the thickest fight? Listening for His orders, Ready to obey, Who will follow Jesus, Serving Him today?
Who will follow Jesus? Who will make reply,
“I am on the Lord’s side; Master, here am I?”
As Isaiah wrote, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isa 6:8).
I cannot fill the shoes of any one of these men who have departed, but I can put on my own shoes and make them available to the Lord. There is a place to serve in the kingdom, a place left empty by those who have gone before us. Are you ready to step forward to make yourself available to his service? Are you ready to make a difference?