Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12: 24)
In Northampton, Massachusetts, stands the old cemetery where David Brainerd is buried. Brainerd, a pioneer American missionary, died in 1747 at the age of twenty-nine after suffering from tuberculosis. His grave is beside that of Jerusha Edwards, the daughter of Jonathan Edwards, a Puritan theologian of that day. Brainerd loved Jerusha and they were engaged to be married, but he did not live until the wedding.
Imagine what hopes, dreams, and expectations for the cause of Christ were buried in the grave with the withered body of that young missionary. At that point, nothing remained but memories and several dozen Indian converts! Yet Jonathan Edwards, that majestic old Puritan saint, who had hoped to call Brainerd his son, began to write the story of that short life in a little book. The book took wings, flew across the sea, and landed on the desk of a Cambridge student by the name of Henry Martyn.
Poor Henry Martyn! In spite of his education, brilliance, and great opportunities, he— after reading that little book on the life of Brainerd— threw his own life away! Afterward, what had he accomplished once he set his course toward home from India in 1812? With his health then broken, he dragged himself as far north as the town of Tokat, Turkey, near the Black Sea. There he lay in the shade of a pile of saddles, to cool his burning fever, and died alone at the age of thirty-one.
What was the purpose behind these “wasted lives”? From the grave of a young David Brainerd, and the lonely grave of Henry Martyn near the shores of the Black Sea, have arisen a mighty army of modern missionaries.
~Leonard Woolsey Bacon
Is there some desert, or some boundless sea,
Where You, great God of angels, will send me?
Some oak for me to rend,
Some sod for me to break,
Some handful of Your corn to take
And scatter far afield,
Till it in turn will yield
Of grains of gold
To feed the happy children of my God?
Show me the desert, Father, or the sea;
Is it Your enterprise? Great God, send me!
And though this body lies where ocean rolls,
Father, count me among all faithful souls.
Cowman, L. B. E.; Reimann, Jim (2008-09-09). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (pp. 427-428). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.