Sr. Sarah gave a great talk Monday night on “God, are you listening to me?” I will upload the recording–although sorry to say, it is filled with a LOT of static. (Still working on the cause of that . . .) She has promised to re-tape it. Anyway, I want to at least refer you to something she quoted in her talk. You can find it here.
When you find yourself in a trial or difficult situation, do you see it as the hand of God. Here’s another excerpt from the book I was talking about last time, Green Leaf in Drought, by Isobel Kuhn. It’s from one of Arthur Mathews’ letters home:
John says, I FOUND myself in the isle which is called Patmos–not one jot of credit does he give to the might of Rome. A not one mention escapes him of what he must have endured before eventually “finding” himself there.
He was “found” there just as Philip was “found” at Azotus, and the Mathews’ family is “found” here. The means, circumstances, decisions that led to his finding himself there are unimportant. Faith discerns even behind the Beast the hand of God–for second causes make good disguises and baffle any eyes but the eyes of faith. So to enlarge on the why and the wherefore; to blame himself or his charges; to weigh past decisions for or against . . . is not on John’s mind; nor does he allow any wishful sightings to occupy his thoughts. A more ideal field for just such thoughts could hardly be found. So there is a great deal of comfort for us in John’s early verses of the Revelation. (Green Leaf in Drought, p. 55)
I have been reading quite a bit of the writings of Isobel Kuhn, a protestant missionary to China right before Communism took over. The excerpt below is from a book about a married couple and child who were trapped in China at the onset of Communism and not allowed to leave for quite awhile. Isobel focuses in on the question that can tempt us all at various times in our lives: “If only . . .” The woman she is writing about is the wife and mother in the family.
“If only that letter had not come, inviting us here.” What about the “if”? She got them [a tract she had on “If”] and read:
Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” [Jn 11.32b]” And He could have been there; He was not far away. He knew all about it, and He let him die. I think it was very hard for that woman . . . It is something God could have made different, if He had chosen, because He has all power; and He has allowed that “if” to be there.
I do not discount the “if” in your life. No matter what it is . . . Come to the Lord with your “if” and let Him say to you what He said to Martha. He met her “if” with His “if”! “Did I not tell you that IF you would believe you would see the glory of God” [Jn 11.40]” The glory of God is to come out of the “if” in your life. . .
Do not be thinking of your “if.” Make a power out of your “if” for God. . .
Do you know that light is to fall on your “if” some day? Then take in the possibilities and say, “Nothing has ever come to me, nothing has ever gone from me, that I shall be better for God by it . . .”
Face the “if” in your life and say, For this I have Jesus.
But there is nothing to be ashamed of if you experience those “ifs” plaguing you, as Isobel Kuhn goes on to write:
[O]ur Lord never scolded Martha for her “if”; nor Mary (who accompanied the same “if” with mute worship, prostrating herself at His feet), but with her, He wept. Wept at the sorrow which must accompany spiritual growth in our lives: for by suffering He also learned obedience. (Green Leaf in Drought, p. 36)
I’m continuing to read and be inspired by the lives of protestant missionaries. My current favorite is a book by Isobel Kuhn, a missionary to the Lisu people in China in the 1940’s. The book is entitled In the Arena and basically recounts the challenges she faced in her daily life as a married woman and mother living in, in all reality, the outskirts of the world, high in the mountains. Here is her account of “one of those days.” A little background: she was about to start a Bible School for some of the natives, her husband was out of town, the missionary, Charles, who came to help her came down with rheumatic fever, and it was the rainy season.
It was a Sunday, Eva [her helper] had gone to church. I was going to go to bed early but had a feeling that I should go down to Charles’ cabin first and see if he needed any help. He did. The rheumatic fever was getting under way now, and he was in such pain that he needed a shot of morphine. So back up the slippery path I went to sterilize the hypodermic needle. Behold, the charcoal fire in the kitchen was almost out. With much blowing and coaxing I got a few coals hot enough to boil it the ten minutes required. Then down the mountainside I went again with the pot and needle. But I had never given an injection before this as John [her husband] had always done it for me. Charles was suffering yet I hated to experiment on him. I felt I must confess my inexperience to him.
“Oh, it’s easy,” said Charles, picking up the needle and fitting it on the syringe. “You just want to make sure there is no bubble,” and to show me how, he held the syringe up, pressed the plunger and shot my carefully sterilized needle through the open window into the wet mud of the dark mountainside! I had no other needle so had to take a lantern and search for that one. Then I trudged up the mountain to our kitchen only to find that the fire was out! I forget what happened after that. Probably church was dismissed and Eva came to my rescue, for lighting charcoal fires was never where I shone! My first lesson in giving an injection!
She and Charles would joke later: “Oh, it’s easy. All you do is–shoot it out the window!”
Isobel goes on to say:
Small harassments; they come to everyone. What are we to do with them or in them? Seek a promise from the Lord. Nothing is too small but that He will respond to comfort or to guide . . . .
“When did I licht ma auld lantern?” asked a Scottish deacon. “Was it no when I was comin’ frae the lict o’ ma ain hoose along the dark road tae the licht o’ yours? That is where tae use the promises–in the dark places between the lichts.” Stumbling down the mountainside in the rain with a tray for a sick fellow worker–from ma hoose tae your hoose–that is where to use your light.