Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spiritual Giants and the Grace of God in Christ

Spiritual giants, like Hudson Taylor, are in fact weak people who have learned how to depend on the grace and greatness of God in Christ. The biographies we read and anecdotes we hear tend to tell the stories that are amazing and unusual and awe-inspiring, and understandably so. But often they skip over or, worse yet, deliberately obscure the difficulties that are involved in any ministry that's used of God whether big or small, well-known or hidden from all but God. 

Please read this brief quote from Hudson and slow down long enough to reflect on what might have been behind what he was saying. For a man like him to use a word like "overwhelmed" surely implies that the trials were exceedingly difficult. 

Hudson wrote, “Pray for us. At times I seem almost overwhelmed with the internal and external trials connected with our work. But he has said, ‘I will not fail thee nor forsake thee’ (Josh. 1:5), and ‘my strength is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Cor 12:9). So be it,” (Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, Littleton, CO: OMF Books, 2010, page 102).

I see a few lessons for us in Hudson's words: 

1. Be honest. Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes serving Jesus is hard. Sometimes we feel like we're not going to make it, and if you never get to a place like that perhaps you have failed to take up your cross and follow Jesus. Death to self is painful, for it is death indeed. And proclaiming the life of Christ in this world is painful, for the world has little to no desire to hear the gospel of truth and grace. Surely, like Jesus, we press on for the joy that's set before us, part of which we get to taste everyday. But that joy does not remove all suffering from our lives, in fact, God using the suffering in our lives to increase our joy in him. So be honest. 

2. When times are hard, cling to the specific promises of God. Don't settle for general thoughts and encouraging words, search the Bible until you find one or two promises to which you can cling. God has not committed himself to our purposes but he has committed himself to his own, and his promises are the legal tender of his purposes, if you will. The purposes of God are full of treasure, and praying his promises according to his will is the way in which we access that treasure. So let us pray the specific promises of God rather than wallow in our pain. 

3. When times are hard, call on others to bear the burden with you. And primarily, let us ask them to bear the burden by helping us carry it into the courts of the Lord. We can offer one another no greater help than call on the name of Jesus, according to the promises of Jesus, for one another. So let us call on one another to pray. 

May the Lord give us insight as we meditate upon these things to the end that we would shape a way of life in him and for his glory. 

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