July 29, 2013
As the persecution of Jews increased during World War II, Austrian psychologist Victor Frankl had the opportunity to go to America and avoid the imminent threat of suffering. His parents were thrilled for him, but he struggled with the question: Should I leave my parents behind in Gestapo-controlled Austria?
One day Victor's father, who knew nothing of his son's inner turmoil, brought him a piece of marble taken from a bombed out synagogue. It contained a small bit of writing that Victor recognized as being from the fourth commandment: Honor your father and mother.
Frankl decided to stay. The decision was not without a price; he and his family were arrested and imprisoned. His parents died in concentration camps, and he himself spent years in Auschwitz. But he survived, and as a result, he was able to provide strength and encouragement to millions through his writings, most notably his book "Man's Search for Meaning."
During this time, a German theologian named Dietrich Bonhoeffer had the opportunity to take a teaching post in America. He, too, struggled with the decision. Ultimately he declined the offer, choosing to stay in Germany because he felt an obligation to be with his own countrymen during the time of national crisis. Bonhoeffer was eventually arrested and sent to a concentration camp, where he died shortly before the war ended.
Both men had the opportunity to leave; both made the decision to stay and both paid a price for their choice.
The Apostle Paul wrote: Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1)
Each of us has an individual race to run, and at times we face difficult decisions regarding the best course to take. Paul was singularly focused when choosing his course, and I think his advice carries great wisdom: Throw off everything that hinders. Ignore the things that would distract you, and simply ask yourself, “Which path takes me closer to the prize?” If you need a hint from heaven, God will provide one; just be ready to take an obedient next step in the race marked out for you.
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