During the New Year of 1412, in a small French village, a baby girl was born who would grow up to change her world. Through military developments and a variety of personal religious experiences, Joan of Arc became a captain in the French army at age 16. Just three years later she was captured, tried, and put to death—burned at the stake—her life complete at 19 years of age.
As the fires ignited around the stake to which she was tied, Joan was given a last chance to save her life if she would deny her religious beliefs. She refused to deny anything she had said or believed about her faith.
Maxwell Anderson, who wrote a moving drama about this young woman, has her say in his play as the flames begin to consume her: “One life is all we have, and we live it as we believe in living it, and then it’s gone. But to surrender what you are, and live without belief—that’s more terrible than dying—more terrible than dying young” (“Joan of Lorraine” , 80).
“One life is all we have,” and our happiness will come from living a faith-filled life. As we begin this new year, may we resolve to live the right way for the right reasons—reasons that are eternal, reasons that matter in this life and in the next.
In scriptural terms, let us be “steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works” (Mosiah 5:15) so we can be “an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
Jeffery R. Holland