Yesterday marked an anniversary terrorists never wanted to see: Malala Yousafzai turned another year older. You'll remember her story: three years ago, a masked gunman entered her school bus and tried to assassinate her. However, the gunman failed to kill Malala or the cause to which she has given her life: education and advancement for women around the world.
Malala's birthday was July 12. In recognition of her global significance, the United Nations made July 14 "Malala Day." I'm not sure what you wished for on your 17th birthday, but Malala's birthday wish was that "we all raise our voices for those under oppression, to show our own power and courage is stronger than their campaign of fear." In an article she wrote for The Washington Post, she tells of spending her birthday in Nigeria, where she spoke up for the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram and called on the country's leaders to do more to help them.
Malala gave an interview to ABC News, in which she launched the hashtag #strongerthan on behalf of the Nigerian girls and her larger campaign for women's education. She explained: "We want to say that we are 'stronger than.' So I say that I am stronger than fear. I am stronger than violence. I am stronger than terrorism. I am stronger than every kind of thing that stops me from getting education."
So are you. Like Malala, your life can change the world in ways more dramatic than you can know today. Last weekend I visited the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas, where I stood before a "Luther Bible." Martin Luther did not know when he translated the Bible into German that he was creating a tool that would help advance what we call the "Reformation" of the church. But he did.
Two weeks ago I stood beside Martyrs Square at Oxford University. There I remembered Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, who were burned at the stake for their Protestant beliefs. Latimer said to his companion, "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out." The martyr was right.
Jesus is extending God's rule and glory on earth as we speak, and would like to use your life to advance his Kingdom. But first he asks for your permission. Tom Brokaw once told a group of graduates, "You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world." Think of your salvation in the same way.
And know that Jesus has a "good, pleasing and perfect" plan for your day and eternal significance (Romans 12:2). Futurist Joel Barker: "Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world."
Philosopher Elton Trueblood noted that lasting global impact requires a philosophy, a program, and a passion. What are yours?
Publication date: July 15, 2014
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others?
Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.