God’s people have amazing stories! We’d love to share the story of some heroes of the faith and of the church that you may not know a lot about. These are people who God has used to shape His Church. We hope you’ll journey with us the next few weeks as we take this adventure together. First up—
Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) made many contributions to the church. Different from many others during his time, he took the Gospels literally, and joyfully attempted to live like Jesus had instructed us to live.
He suffered a lengthy illness, which caused him to devote himself to prayer. Not asking, “Why me?”, but instead dying to self and finding a new life in Christ. He felt that God communicated to him through prayer that he must learn to let go of all the worldly things which he loved to better know God’s will. Then he would find true sweetness and joy!
Hearing God’s voice in prayer to, “Build up my house, it is nearly falling down”, Francis looked across a field and saw the chapel of San Damiano, which was indeed falling down. He spent years as a humble workman, rebuilding the chapel, giving up all his worldly wealth. He must have at some point realized that the message to “build up my house” might have had a deeper meaning.
A humble man, Francis was torn between devoting his life to constant prayer and a life of actively preaching the Good News of Jesus. He started the Order of Franciscans, and he is well known to be a man who loved animals–and who animals also loved. Christians everywhere around the world celebrate with the Franciscans on October 4th, the blessing of the animals. With the blessing of the animals, we remember Proverbs 12:10: The righteous man regards the life of his beast.
Francis of Assisi is also credited as the author of one of the most loved prayers, the Prayer for Peace:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
Lisa Strnad is an independent contractor in Christian media as a writer, marketing consultant, and public relations specialist. She speaks to Christian women’s groups on the issues of motherhood, home schooling and raising a child with special needs. Lisa and her family make their home in Nashville.