Clair, a nurse, was telling her new friend Daniel that while she was at work, a man who she was helping keep alive with heart massage suddenly looked at her and said, “You’re holding my heart.” Later, when Daniel was trying desperately to get to Helen, the love of his life, he was protected from the authorities who were after him by Clair. He knew he would not get away from those who were pursuing him without Clair’s help. He told her, “You’re holding my heart.”
That great line, “You’re holding my heart” from Forever Young (1992, Warner Brothers) expresses the feelings we have about those things that are in our core. Our heart keeps us alive. Those precious things in our hearts are what we live for – and would die for.
There are things – more than one thing – that are in our center. Those things include other people and the relationships that tie us to them. Those things include values like loyalty, love, and virtue. For men like Polycarp and Justin Martyr and women like Anne Askew, those things included faith. They all died – execution style – because their faith was more at their center than was life itself. Christian history is full of their stories. Books so old they are available in full text online like Foxes Book of Martyrs and newer books like dc Talk’s Jesus Freaks or John MacArthur’s Twelve Ordinary Men tell us the stories of people who have given up the breath of life for Jesus because to give up faith would have been to give up their soul – their entirety.
Stephen was such a man. He couldn’t accept God’s grace, yet hold his tongue. He wouldn’t keep the Spirit silent within him though he knew stones would be thrown at him. Faith oriented his eyes to see the Son of Man standing in concern and confirmation. Faith molded his heart to forgive those who were throwing stones. Faith was fundamental.
Your salvation is so important to God that he “gave his one and only Son.” If getting you to be in his presence forever is so important to him, shouldn’t it be to you? Furthermore, if Jesus is who he says he is and can do what he says he can do, doesn’t it make sense that we should say with Paul, “For me to live is Christ”? Would you give up your breath to hold on to your faith? When threatened with the wild beasts, Polycarp said, “Let them come. My purpose is unchangeable.” He meant that he couldn’t deny his faith, it was too much of who he was. How can we have that kind of faith?