As I talk to more and more people about Davin Henrickson, and as I plunge myself into the books he read and the truths that defined and shaped and filled his life, it’s my estimation that you could probably go one place and, for the most part, get the man. At least the heart of the man.
That one place would be Paul’s letter to the Philippian church. One letter, brief and to the point, that the missionary pastor wrote to the church he loved. It’s a letter about Paul’s heart, his core, his driving ambition. And in my search to find Davin, I think forever in my mind it will also be his letter to the world. If you want to know Davin, learn Philippians by heart.
One of the chief desires present in the letter and in Davin’s life was that his own personal suffering be an opportunity to advance the gospel of Christ, to portray him to the world through personal afflictions. Paul said, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel… my imprisonment is for Christ” (Phil 1:12-13).
One of Davin’s best friends put it to me this way, recounting a story of how they went to dinner at some point during Davin’s battle with cancer.
As we were driving to the restaurant, he just said, ‘If God is gonna heal me through this, Raleigh, then you know, I get that. If he’s gonna use that to show his power, I understand. But if I’m gonna die, if this ends in my death, then I don’t understand. I just don’t get it.’ But then after awhile he looked at me and said, ‘No, I think my focus now has to be on dying well,’ and we had a long conversation about dying well. That was his focus, even as he wrestled with it, that God had brought him to this and he had to die well.
He didn’t simply arrive at a place where everything made sense, but he saw clearly the truth of Scripture and the call of God, and he fought desperately to be conformed to what he believed. He wrestled, he struggled, he battled. The aroma of his life came through tenacious, unrelenting, active faith. And now because of him we taste and see the goodness of the Lord in his life, how through agony and death and affliction the Lord stood by him and was his joy. Davin learned how to do all things through Christ, including die of cancer for the glory of God. He did not waste his cancer.
And finally, as we bask in the glory of Christ before this magnificent life—for Davin’s life is the handiwork of Jesus—we are forced to answer for ourselves, Are we able to look at whatever station and suffering God has appointed and say, ‘This ______________ is for Christ?’ What do you fill in the blank? Are you able to wrestle through tears and grief and agony in order to say, ‘What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, and that’s all I really ever wanted anyway?’
We are all called to different things. But wherever you are called, can you say with Paul and Davin, This is my opportunity to glorify Jesus, to suffer well for him?
I’ll close with a quote from Raleigh, Davin’s friend and apparent international man of mystery:
Davin wrestled with feeling like his life didn’t amount to much, like he never did anything really meaningful. He fought feeling like he was a failure. But God has used his life so much to change us, to change who we are… You are where you are on purpose, just stay faithful to him. Find your identity in Christ and not your job or whatever other defining thing. Stay faithful, that he might increase and you might decrease.