My counselor asked me this question during one of our conversations. He said, “Davey, do you think Amanda would have still said ‘yes’ to Jesus about moving to Indianapolis if she knew she was going to lose her life four years into it?” I really had to chew on this before I could answer him. I’m not sure why that question caused me to ruminate for so long. Perhaps it’s because I’m not sure how many people would immediately jump at the chance to die for Jesus. How many people does He even ask to do that? Certainly not many! He normally just asks us to LIVE for Him. But die? So it stumped me for a moment.

As I sat there and pondered his question a few images surfaced in my mind. I thought about the journal entry she wrote after our last Sunday service at NewSpring:

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I thought about the journal entry she wrote the day after we arrived in Indy with all our love, vision, and worldly possessions loaded into a 99 Mercury Mountaineer, a 97 Honda Civic, and a Uhaul moving truck:

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I thought about the prayer she prayed at our leadership retreat in the old fitness room of a Cincinnati hotel the weekend before she was killed. We were spending some time as a leadership team praying and worshiping, honestly preparing our hearts to listen for the plans Jesus had next for our church. It was one of those moments you could feel something different in the atmosphere. Almost as if Jesus himself was sitting in the room with us. Amanda led out in prayer. In tears she said, “Jesus I’m sorry for the times I make my life about my agenda. I want my agenda for my life to be Your agenda for my life.”

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That simple prayer opened the floodgates for prayer after prayer from our team all congruent with this one theme: SURRENDER. Amanda led the way in surrender. Surrender to a greater plan. Surrender to a greater story. Surrender to a greater God than anything she could have ever imagined or fabricated.

On Monday morning, November 9th - the morning before she was killed - I remember walking into our bedroom at about 7:30 in the morning. I had just finished some time reading the Bible and praying and knew that she was up doing the same. When I walked in the bedroom, however, I didn’t see her in her normal spot propped up on the bed reading. I peered around the corner to check the bathroom. She wasn’t there either. When I looked back toward her side of the bed, there she was, on both knees, bowing beside the bed. Leading the way in surrender.

As these images flooded my mind I looked at my counselor and said, “Yes. She still would have said ‘yes.’” Because for Amanda, no matter how much it hurt, she always chose the route of obedience over comfort.

My counselor then shared with me about his visit to Rome a couple years ago. He said he’ll never forget visiting the ancient Colosseum. At one point the guide ushered them down to the dungeons where they housed the early Christians moments before they would meet their demise in front of thousands of screaming Roman citizens. Nero was the Emperor at the time, and he hated everything about the movement of Christianity. Some of the monstrosities committed against these Christians are outlined in Hebrews 11.

What’s fascinating is Nero didn’t ask these early Christians to recant Christ. Ancient Rome was a polytheistic society, meaning most Romans worshiped MANY gods. He merely asked these Christians to worship him FIRST, before they worshiped Christ. These early martyrs could have easily succeeded to Nero’s wishes, all the while holding on to their “love” for Jesus in order to spare their life. But they didn’t. They chose Jesus over anything else.

Over comfort. Over health. Over safety. Over convenience.

None of us know what “cross” Jesus is going to ask us to carry. There’s no pre-laid-out terms of contract in this whole thing. He just says take up your cross and follow me. Amanda chose Jesus over anything else.

Over comfort. Over health. Over safety. Over convenience.

I want that kind of faith. I want that kind of boldness. I want that kind of courage. Truth is, for many of us Amanda is still leading the way in surrender.

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