The devotional (for lack of a better word) The One Year Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten is rapidly becoming one of my favorite books. It has a two-page story from Christian history that ties in to every day of the year (that's where I found out about Jonathan Edwards delivering Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God on July 8th—see my July 8 post).
According to this book, on July 6th, 1553, King Edward VI died. On his death bed he made an amazing prayer that was recorded (he thought he was alone in the room). In this prayer I was reminded of Paul in Philippians 1:20-24 when Paul wrote, from under guard, ". . . but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account."
Edward, too, desired to go home to heaven, but also surrendered his will in his prayer to God, saying that if God chose to keep him here to serve Him and to serve and save the chosen in England, than so be it. The maturity and the present reality of Heaven in Edward's prayer are amazing!
During Edward's reign he, as a polar opposite of his Father, Henry VIII, removed corruption from the church, removed unBiblical teaching and tradition from the church, and created an environment in England allowed the Protestants who had fled England under Henry to come back, bringing with them the teachings of men like Luther, Calvin, and the Anabaptists. He brought his "reformation" to England gently and mostly peacefully. Under him, according to the book, "a new day had dawned in England."
Edward was, from this account (and I am sure he wasn't perfect either), mature, wise, and Godly. Did I forget to mention that he was nine when he became king, and 15 when he died?
Yes, he prayed that prayer and ended his amazing reign, at age 15. In his case, unlike Paul, God took him home that day.
I shared this story with our youth group on Thursday night. We identified multiple things that probably contributed to his greatness:
1) He was raised by Godly tutors—who we surround ourselves with, and who we sit under for teaching, are critical!
2) He was young—he probably wasn't yet jaded, cynical, or divided by too many distractions from his job.
3) He was studied and knowledgeable in the things of God.
4) He had seen his father and wanted to be different.
5) He knew who he was and walked in it! What I mean by this is that Henry, his father, had taken over the church because he wanted permission to divorce and remarry to get a male heir. He went through six wives to get Edward. You can imagine that, from the first moment, this child was raised to be a king. He would have known, from the earliest memories on, that he was royalty with a royal calling. When released, he stepped in to that role with authority, maturity, and boldness.
The question is, "Do we know who we are, and do we walk in it?"
When we become born again we become a child of God, of the King. We are comissioned by Jesus to go out, children and soldiers and ambassadors of the King and His Kingdom, carrying and utilizing His name and His authority and His weapons. We have a royal calling—are we surrounding ourselves with teachers who know this, studying to be equipped for it, and walking it out in Biblical authority and Biblical confidence?
Note: Biblical authority and Biblical confidence do not contradict Biblical serving and Biblical humility. We are humble and serve because we know who we are apart from God and who God is and what He calls us to be. We are confident and in authority because we know who we are in Christ, and who He says we are. The two can, and must, coexist.
Credit: The painting of Edward VI is used by permission from the web site:
The sketch of Edward VI on the throne is used by permission from the web site: