The Joy and Blessings of a Christian Life
The pathway of life has its shadows and sunshine, its pleasures and sorrows; and in the Christian life, I am convinced, many people live in the shadow more than in the sunshine, when they could very well have it otherwise.
When I was about thirteen years of age, I yielded myself to the Lord and made a decision to spend my life in His service. Since that time, like Christian in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, I have met with many and varied experiences. But one beautiful and encouraging thought has been that, no matter how hard my trials, how near my strength was gone, nor how close my courage came to failing, just at that time, when I was the most helpless, God was always present to help, either by His Spirit or by sending one of His servants to encourage and strengthen me.
I have, indeed, found the Christian life to be a warfare. Every individual who enlists in the service of the Lord will have the forces of evil to battle against, but God has made provision whereby every child of God can be an overcomer in every conflict. The one who has a firm decision to be true at any cost will receive such power and help that Satan cannot prevent him from serving the Lord. The enemy may try to hinder by causing trials, difficulties, and perplexities, and at times the way may seem dark, with no apparent hope of day; but our God, who is mighty, will turn all these seeming hindrances into real blessings and make them stepping-stones to glory.
In my youthful days I felt a deep desire to work for God and longed to fill some place in life where I could feel that I not only was living a life of salvation, but was really engaged in my Master’s service. As I knelt in earnest prayer and consecrated myself fully to the Lord for Him to direct me as seemed best, a dark sorrow filled my heart; for Satan whispered, “You are too young. You cannot stand against the powers of evil that all young people must meet. Your covenant with the Lord is too great for you to keep.” But with tears I cried unto the Lord to know if these suggestions were true. At that moment the Lord gave me the assurance that if I decided to serve Him He would teach me how to do so. He would give me grace in every time of need.
Sometime after this I became very ill and knew that unless God came to my aid I should soon have to leave this world. As I thought of my condition, a joy filled my soul that I might soon be with the Lord. With this joy came also a sadness, as I realized that I had done nothing in the vineyard of the Lord. It seemed that I could not bear to go empty-handed. I prayed God to spare my life that I might work for Him. He graciously and instantly touched my body with His healing power, and in a few days I was able to attend school. Once I was about to make a decision and take a step that would have hindered me from filling the place the Lord designed I should fill. At that moment the Lord made known to me by His Holy Spirit in such a way that I could not question His leadings that He had called me to His service, and also made known to me the place that I was chosen to fill. Immediately I was reminded of my covenant with the Lord, although I had to stand against the pleadings and earnest entreaties of some of my very dear friends.
Before this I had decided not to leave my mother, but to work near my home so that I could readily respond in case of sickness. After considerable meditation about the matter of leaving my father and mother, brothers and sisters, in order to take up my work for the Lord, the matter became very serious. Finally I went to the Lord one morning in earnest prayer. I shall never forget that season of prayer, when I seemed to be in the direct presence of the Lord. My consecration was put to a test as one question after another was presented, as to whether or not I should be willing to die, to really give my life, if God so designed, that my unsaved loved ones might be saved, or to do the same for lost souls who were not dear to me according to the ties of nature. And again, should I be willing to give my life for lost sinners and have them scoff and spurn me? These were hard questions, but my heart said, “Lord, Thy will be done. Where thou leadest I will follow.” I was solemnly impressed with the thought: Jesus came to save a lost world, but they crucified Him; instead of accepting His love, they rejected it.
Within a short time I had the matter settled beyond a doubt that the time had come for me to enter upon the mission whereunto the Lord had called me. The way began to open before me, and as I bid loved ones farewell, a sweet assurance filled my soul that my decision and action was in accordance with His will. It gave me much sorrow to leave home, but God so blessed and directed me that I have never been sorry that I obeyed His voice. Over and over I have proved that God’s way is best. His way may cause pain and sorrow at times, which we may not be able to understand, but in the end we can know of a truth that God has caused all things to work together for our good and for His glory.
At one time I was very much tested, and discouragements presented themselves. I was trying hard to be an overcomer and to cast every burden upon the Lord. The enemy would suggest that it was of no use for me to try to stand against the things that were oppressing me and that it would be better to surrender, and even give place to discouragements, and that even if I should come out a conqueror later, no one would ever know anything about it. At first this suggestion seemed plausible, but upon further consideration I said: “No, I will not surrender. If no one else ever knows, I will know, God will know, and the devil will know, that I stood true and came out victorious.” This experience has since that time often been a real encouragement to me.
At another time I had for weeks been passing through real testing times. Occasionally the trials would lift and God would bless my soul, but again the darkness of depressions would settle over me. I began to weary and to long for deliverance. The suggestion came that it would be better for me to cease serving God and never to try again. Over and over something whispered that there was no use to continue; that if others who were older and better qualified fell by the wayside and could not stand, there was positively no use in my trying. Finally the enemy insisted that there was nothing else for me to do than to give up, and that, after all, I was in a deplorable spiritual condition; that there was no hope for me. At this point I discerned that it was the enemy, and, kneeling before God, I promised Him that if He could get more glory out of my life by my being in such a trial all the rest of my days, I was willing to submit to the trial. When I came to this decision my trial vanished suddenly, and God poured the glory into my soul and the victory was far sweeter than the trial had been bitter.
Sometimes I have had trials in which I could see no good nor from which I could not perceive how any good could possibly result; but later I would be enabled to know that those very trials were worth more to me than any treasure this earth could afford.
As I look upon my past life and see how mercifully God has dealt with me, how He has guided and protected, and how He has shielded me from the power of the tempter, my heart cries out, “What a mighty God! What a great and loving Father!” Counting my blessings, I find they so far outnumber my trials that it brings me real courage to press on, knowing that, as I do, grace will be given me to meet whatever may yet lie in my pathway. For “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)