I recently stumbled onto two such books in our church library, written in the early 1930s. They were beautiful, though, unlike the modern graphics and sharp colors we use today, the covers were muted and faded. The pages yellowed with time; old enough to be in public domain.
The first book was Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secrets. It is about the remarkable journey of faith at a very young age. Taylor was only 17 years old when the Lord called him to a life of service to China. Before he went, he spent four years learning how to depend on the Lord for everything. He felt giving up his life of luxury and living in poverty would strengthen his “spiritual muscles” preparing him for the hard years ahead in China. At 21 years old, he sailed to his mission field - Shanghai. His is a remarkable story for such a young person.
Within the pages of the book, I found a small treasure - a brownish, small scrap of paper approximately 3 x 2 inches. On that piece of paper, someone penned the struggles of their heart and faith.
The note read,
“Just a sip of the new life that is in store for me. Oh, for the tiredness of body, and the terrific temper. The will to do thy will is ever present. But the faith that I have is so defective and how I pray that my faith might be a more effective faith. My longing and my prayer is to be a bright shining Christian, instead of a toiling hindered Christian. Oh, if only I could abide in Christ, but either I cannot or will not, though it is my whole desire. Instead of getting stronger, I am getting weaker and subject to temptation and sin.”
On the other side of the note the person had a different tone. It read, “He is our Life. He is our Strength and our Salvation. He is also our Wisdom and our righteousness. He is our power for service to Him. Oh, God, to be a fruit bearing Christian.”
As I read the note, exactly as it is above, written in both pen and pencil, I felt I was looking into the soul of so many Christians today, including myself. Constantly striving to please the Lord and be good, yet, falling short and feeling frustrated and weary.
Hudson Taylor also struggled so much to please the Lord that even in his youth, his face showed signs of years of exhaustion from “trying” so hard. However, in the middle of the book there was an amazing transformation in Mr. Taylor. He had found the secret of rest, peace and joy. He found it in surrender.
This is what Hudson Taylor wrote:
“I am no longer anxious about anything…for He (Christ), I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest position He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient. . . It little matters to my servant whether I send him to buy a few cash worth of things or the most expensive articles. In either case he looks to me for the money and brings me his purchases. So, if God should place me in great perplexity, must He not give me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength? No fear that His resources will be unequal to the emergency! And His resources are mine—for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me.”
The authors of the book (Taylor’s relatives) wrote in the next paragraph: “Surrender to Christ he (Taylor) had long known, but this was more; this was a new yieldedness, a glad, unreserved handing over of self and everything to Him (Christ). It was no longer a question of giving up this or that if the Lord required it; it was a loyal and loving acceptance, a joyful meeting of His will in things little and great, as the very best that could be for His own. This made the trials an opportunity for God’s grace to triumph, turning ‘the valley of weeping’ into ‘a place of springs’ from which streams of blessing are flowing still.” He had buried two children and his wife while in China, yet he found peace. How do you find this place of peace?
John 15:5 reads, “I Am The Vine, You are the branches. Apart from Me you can do nothing”.
Andrew Murray wrote in his book, True Vine, (the second book I found) “You are the branch. You need be nothing more. You need not for one single moment of the day take upon you the responsibility of the Vine. You need not leave the place of entire dependence and unbounded confidence. You need, least of all, to be anxious as to how you are to understand the mystery, or fulfill its conditions, or work out its blessed aim. The Vine will give all and work all”.
“The Father, the Husbandman, watches over your union with and growth in the vine. You need be nothing more than a branch. Only a branch! Let that be your watchword; it will lead in the path of continual surrender to Christ’s working, of true obedience to His every command, of joyful expectancy of all His grace. The character of a branch, its strength, and the fruit it bears, depend entirely upon the Vine. And your life as branch depends entirely upon your apprehension of what our Lord Jesus is. Therefore never separate the two words; I the Vine –you the branch” Murray also said, “Christians must take up this position...that not one of the principal temptations and failures of the Christian life is not met here. The nearness, the all-sufficiency, the faithfulness of the Lord Jesus, the naturalness, the fruitfulness of a life of faith, are so revealed, that is is as if one could with confidence say, Let this enter into my heart and all will be right. “
|What does it mean to Abide? |
Dictionary definition: to remain, continue; to dwell; reside to continue in a certain condition; remain steadfast or faithful.
"The Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says, 'Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength”. Isaiah 30:15
Written by Pat Mulder
References: Taylor, Dr. and Mrs. Howard - Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, Chicago: Moody Press Public Domain; Murray, Andrew. The True Vine, Chicago: Moody Press Public Domain