Sunday, April 4, 2010

A spiritual secret from Hudson Taylor

I'm reading a biography of Hudson Taylor these days, and I just reached a chapter that describes a spiritual insight that changed Hudson Taylor's life.  When I got to the end of that chapter, I felt that I couldn't read on until I had read that chapter again and had processed it more thoroughly.  The insight Hudson Taylor got hold of is one that I need to embrace in my own heart.  I hope it will change my life as well!

The following is an excerpt from the biography of Hudson Taylor (written by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor).  It is from a letter Hudson wrote from China to his sister in England.


First, the problem...


"My mind has been greatly exercised for six or eight months past, feeling the need personally... of more holiness, life, power in [my] soul...  I felt the ingratitude, the danger, the sin of not living nearer to God.  I prayed, agonised, fasted, strove, made resolutions, read the Word more diligently, sought more time for meditation -- but all without avail.  Every day, almost every hour, the consciousness of sin oppressed me.


"I knew that if only I could abide in Christ all would be well, but I could not.  I would begin the day with prayer, determined not to take my eye off Him for a moment, but pressure of duties, sometimes very trying, and constant interruptions apt to be so wearing, caused me to forget Him.  Then one's nerves get so fretted... that temptations to irritability, hard thoughts, and sometimes unkind words are all the more difficult to control.  Each day brought its register of sin and failure, of lack of power...


"Then came the question, is there no rescue?  Must it be thus to the end -- constant conflict, and too often defeat?  How could I preach with sincerity that, to those who receive Jesus, 'to them he gave power to become the sons of God' (i.e., Godlike) when it was not so in my own experience?  Instead of growing stronger, I seemed to be getting weaker and to have less power against sin; and no wonder, for faith and even hope were getting low.  I hated myself, I hated my sin, yet gained no strength against it.  I felt I was a child of God.  His Spirit in my heart would cry, in spite of all, 'Abba, Father.'  But to rise to my privileges as a child, I was utterly powerless.


"...sometimes there were seasons not only of peace but of joy in the Lord; but they were transitory, and at best there was a sad lack of power...


"All the time I felt assured that there was in Christ all I needed, but the practical question was -- how to get it out.  He was rich truly, but I was poor; He was strong, but I weak.  I knew full well that there was in the root, the stem, abundant fatness, but how to get it into my puny branch was the question.  As gradually light dawned, I saw that faith was the only requisite -- was the hand to lay hold on His fatness and make it mine.  But I had not this faith.


"I strove for faith, but it would not come; I tried to exercise it, but in vain. Seeing more and more the wondrous supply of grace laid up in Jesus, the fullness of our precious Jesus, the fullness of our precious Saviour, my guilt and helplessness seemed to increase. Sins committed appeared but as trifles compared with the sin of unbelief which was their cause, which could not or would not take God at His Word, but rather made Him a liar! Unbelief was I felt the damning sin of the world; yet I indulged in it. I prayed for faith, but it came not. What was I to do?"


And then, the solution... 


"When my agony of soul was at its height, a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales from my eyes, and the Spirit of God revealed to me the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I have never known it before... (I quote from memory):  'But how to get faith strengthened?  Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.'


"As I read it, I saw it all!  'If we believe not, He abideth faithful.' ...


"...As I thought of the vine and the branches, what light the blessed Spirit poured direct into my soul!  How great seemed my mistake in wishing to get the sap, the fullness out of Him!  I saw not only that Jesus will never leave me, but that I am a member of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.  The vine is not the root merely, but all -- root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers , fruit.  And Jesus is not that alone -- He is soil and sunshine, air and showers, and ten thousand times more than we have ever dreamed, wished for or needed.  Oh, the joy of seeing this truth!  I do pray that the eyes of your understanding too may be enlightened, that you may know and enjoy the riches freely given us in Christ.


"Oh, my dear sister, it is a wonderful thing to be really one with a risen and exalted Saviour, to be a member of Christ!  Think what it involves.  Can Christ be rich and I poor?...

"The sweetest part... is the rest which full identification with Christ brings.  I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realise this; for He, 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 away 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 serious perplexity, must He not give me much guidance; in positions of much difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength?  No fear that resources will prove unequal to the emergency!  And His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me."

Since I can so easily identify with how Hudson Taylor describes his challenges, may God help me to also grasp this spiritual insight he had so that I too can experience the blessing of it!

© 2010 by Ken Peters

2 comments:

Ken, Dianna, Brenna, Will and Jay said...

Mmmmm, yummy. Hudson outlines my struggle eloquently. With you, I long for that sustaining revelation that keeps me out of merry go round of striving and inadequecy and smack dab in the midst of resting in Him. Thanks for your post - very helpful! Dianna

Ken said...

As you saw on my FB account, another great quote of Hudson Taylor's that goes so well with this post is "Flesh and heart often fail: Let them fail! He faileth not." As you say, resting in Him is the only way to live that abundant life He promises us!