Just weeks before the Nazis began their reign of terror, a respected German pastor and theologian, named Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was traveling in the US as a guest lecturer. Wherever he went, people would encourage him to remain here in the US, knowing something terrible was about to break out in Germany. To go back to fascist Germany would be crazy, but he knew that’s what the Lord was telling him to do.
So, he boarded the very last boat from America to Germany before the war broke out… a decision that would soon cost him his life. And yet, for Bonhoeffer, it wasn’t a decision between saving his own life or going back to Germany. It was simply a matter o following Christ no matter what road He takes you down. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to save his life will loose it.” And so, he boarded that boat.
When he arrived back in Germany, he found that things were worse than he had imagined. He immediately began publicly opposing Hitler’s anti-Semitic policies and called the German church to stand against the horrific actions being perpetrated against the Jewish people. Though he was ordered, on numerous occasions, to stop speaking in public, he continued.
Soon their last threat against him, the Nazis had discovered a money trail that started with Bonhoeffer that was being used to help Jews escape to Switzerland. He was arrested in 1943 and was held in concentration camps until April 9th, 1945 when he was hanged. His execution came just three weeks before the liberation of the city by the Allied forces.
Needless to say, Dietrich Bonhoeffer left behind such a legacy… not simply as a theologian and prolific writer… but as an impassioned Jesus-follower who simply chose to answer God’s call on his life. He was so fierce in his faith… but not because of how he suffered… and, not because of the great things he did. But rather, he was fierce because he was willing to step onto whatever path Jesus was calling him to even when he didn’t know where those paths would lead him.
The question for us, then, is “Am I ready to respond to His voice even in the face of ambiguity?” You see, the whole realm of “hearing God’s voice” and “discovering God’s will” really starts with, “Am I ready to do anything and go anywhere for Him?
There will be many times when, like Bonhoeffer, God will call you onto a path, without letting you know where that path will lead you… a path that might rattle your desire for security… that might draw you out of your comfort zone; A path that might cost you more than you expected to pay. Truth is, God is asking no less of us than He asked of Dietrich Bonhoeffer… that, regardless of the cost, we would answer His call on our lives… whatever that call may be.
And so, before you even know just what His will is… will you offer up these painfully simple words, “Yes, Lord”?