I’m not enthused about foreign war history, so I guess I never paid enough attention to Joan of Arc’s story. I knew she believed she was called by God to fight for the French cause, and I admired her for following a cause she believed in even in the midst of opposition. I know now I actually missed the crux of her story.
When I saw the movie listed on Turner Classic Movies, I thought again – Do I really want to watch all that battle stuff? And yet the courage of this woman drew me in and inspired me.
Joan, called the Maid of God, came from a poor country family. Against all odds, she carried out the mission she believed God had laid on her heart. The Roman Catholic clergy in France examined her, could not find fault with her, and sent her on with their blessing. But after Charles VII was crowned, he betrayed the very person who believed in him and his role as king by taking bribe money from the English government to stop his troops from getting more of their land back.
Joan continued on in what she believed, but she was captured and delivered into the hand of the English. In front of a group of church officials who accused her of heresy, she was cruelly interrogated again and again. In between, she was shackled to a prison bed. But though becoming weak in body, she stood firm in her persuasion that God had spoken to her. When the clergy attempted to trick her and asked her if she believed she is in God’s grace, she replied, “If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest creature in the world if I knew I were not in His grace.”
Finally though, she came to a breaking point. At the promise of a church prison, she gave in to the judges. However, when they sent her to the same prison, she wept. About being sent back to such a cruel prison? No. She wept with a deep sorrow that she had denied God. But God graciously gave her peace by showing her His forgiveness.
After recanting her submission to the judges and standing firm again in her God, she was condemned to be burned at the stake. Her last words were, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”
Against all opposition, Joan followed her heart. She took action in what she believed God told her to do. But it wasn’t the French she died for. God had greater plans. In the end, she died for God and His glory. And only eternity will reveal how many souls have turned to God or how many Christians have been encouraged to stand firm in God because of her witness.