These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Heb. 11:13.
Faith looks beyond what is, to what will be. Faith grasps the hand of God in every trial. Consider the faith of Henri Arnaud and his faithful band of Waldensians. The Waldensians were a small group of faithful Bible-believing Christians who dared to be different. They refused to accept the decrees of the state-sponsored church in place of the Word of God. For them, the commands of God were more important than the traditions of people. The state church responded with an army to destroy them.
One spring morning high on a mountain, the Waldensians heard shouting far below as Colonel DePerot and his troops made ready for attack. “My lads, we shall sleep up there tonight,” the colonel boasted. He invited the villagers to a public hanging to take place the next day. “Come and see the end of the Waldensians,” he proclaimed.
High atop the peak, Waldensian leader Henri Arnaud opened his Bible and read to his company from Psalm 124:2, 3: “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive.”
Deperot and his 4,000 troops started up the mountain. All went well until the best climbers were ready to reach the timbers of the mountain fort. At that point Arnaud’s men hailed a volley of stones down upon them. The troops fell back. Colonel DePerot was wounded and to ask for refuge in the Waldensian fort. The Waldensians graciously gave him a safe place to sleep for the night–up on the mountain as he had predicted, but certainly not under the conditions he had expected.
The next night Deperot’s soldiers surrounded the fort, but the Waldensians slipped silently through a dense fog.
Far out of reach on the heights above walked the Waldensians. The soldiers cursed. “Heaven seems to take special interest in preserving these people.” But it was not always so. At last came the day when 250 Waldensians were trapped in a cave by soldiers. A fire was built at the opening, and as smoke filled the cave the Waldensians sang praises to God until their last breath. Along with thousands of others the Waldensians died rather than compromise their integrity. They accepted martyrdom rather then surrender their faith. The witness of these faithful martyrs calls us to loyalty. Their testimony calls us to unwavering commitment to God.
God is calling this generation to a deeper commitment. He is calling us to an uncompromising faith, to a steadfast loyalty to His Word. Are there areas of compromise in your personal life? Have your values been shaped by the culture around you? Are there some things you feel uncomfortable doing but not uncomfortable enough to stop doing them?
The stalwart faith of the Waldensians echoes down the corridors of time. The unshakable faith of these heroes of yesterday speaks to our hearts. Today, why not determine again, by God’s grace to be faithful until He comes?
From “Solid Ground”, by Mark Finely, pgs. 118-119
Bible verses are from the New King James Version.