I cherish the opportunities to learn more about who I am and what God wants me to do. A couple of years ago, my family and I had one of those opportunities as we attended a gathering of youth and parents in our church about a new docudrama, written, directed and produced by our neighbor, Russell Holt.
His journey of research, discovery, writing and filming about the figure in question inspired us all and reminded us of who we are and what is our special purpose or mission in life.
Imagine a youth from a small hamlet, an untrained, unschooled, impoverished young person, who sees a resurrected heavenly being and who has received a call from God to do a great work on this earth. This youth forgoes the pleasure and security of a quiet life and pursues the divine call and completes the mission. Tragically, the youth is tried, pronounced a heretic and dies a martyr. Who might this be?
This youth became commander of the French army at age 17, was captured and imprisoned at the age of 18, and burned at the stake at the age of 19 in Rouen, France on May 30, 1431. Have you figured out who this youth is?
This courageous, virtuous youth was Joan of Arc. What moved her to take on such a daunting task? While at home in Domrémy, France she heard a Heavenly voice calling her and as she gazed toward the voice she saw a bright light wherein Heavenly Messengers bid her rise up and save France from the English domination and restore the Dauphin, Charles, to his rightful seat on the throne of France. Her faith and devotion to God and steady belief in this divine call prompted her to gather an army and eventually defeat the English.
Scrupulous trial records attest to her virtuous, moral, character and to the praise she received by the men who served with her. She lived in a corrupt time in France, but she was fully committed to living the law of chastity. Her mission involved camping out with men and lying in the same tents. In the trial records it is stated that men desired to lie with her, but as they reached out, they were overcome with a strong restraint or felt like they could not touch such a pure, moral maiden. Joan never swore, prayed continually and required the men to pray twice daily. Joan had a thorough understanding of who she was and what God expected of her. Her army felt her powerful influence and leadership.
Many tales have been told of her courage and leadership. Scores of movies and tomes of literature have graced our theatres and libraries. Some depict her life well, some not. Many scholars and historians have not known what to do with her spiritual experiences and have played them down or changed them completely. I believe her experience was divinely appointed to prepare the world for greater things.
Richard John Maynes said of her mission, “Without Joan of Arc, there would have been no country of France. Without France and the French navy, George Washington could never have won at Yorktown, therefore there could have never been an America. Without America, there could not have been a successful restoration of the gospel. Joan of Arc was led by God to do what she did to guarantee the restoration.”
Jeffrey R. Holland turns our thoughts inward and inspires us, “A young girl could do that now in our day.” If God can lead and inspire an ordinary and simple young Joan of Arc, he can inspire each of you to carry out your purpose and mission. If you are to do it successfully, you must keep His commandments as Joan did. Be courageous and follow your personal revelation. Don’t be afraid to be different in our century.