Are you, by chance, experiencing pressure in your life?  The start of school or, even more serious, the lack of finances for school?  Or deadlines or a growing list of phone calls to return?  Or (fill in the blank)?  Let that pressure be something that forces you to God.  As J. Hudson Taylor so wonderfully put it:

“It doesn’t matter really how great the pressure is; it only matters where the pressure lies.  See that it never comes between you and the Lord–then, the greater the pressure, the more it presses you to His breast.”

It is not Death to Die

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I am reading a new biography of Hudson Taylor, one of my two all-time favorite protestant missionaries.  Hudson was a missionary to China in the late 19th century.  It isn’t my favorite biography of him, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the title: It is not Death to Die.  That line is a quote from Pilgrim’s Progress.  When, at the end of Valiant’s life, he crosses over to the Father’s House, “all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.  IT IS NOT DEATH TO DIE.” We’ve had a lot of deaths affect us in our house in the last six months: residents at our Emmanuel Houses, the death of a very good friend, a sister of one of our Sisters, the mother of another one.  We have been staring death in the face constantly these days.  The title of the Taylor biography is a good reminder of the truth, that in Christ, death is really only apparent.  It is not death to die.

And that reminded me of the title of a biography of my other favorite protestant missionary, Amy Carmichael.  Elisabeth Elliot write a life of her named A Chance to Die. In the preface to her book, Elisabeth writes about the debt she owes to Amy Carmichael–I feel a similar debt–how she “met” her at age fourteen by reading her books. From her preface:

The first of her books that I read was, I think, If, which became her best-seller.  It was not written for teenagers, but for seasoned Christians with the solemn charge of caring for the souls of others.  It was from the pages of this thin blue book that I, a teenager, began to understand the great message of the Cross, of what the author called “Calvary love.”  I saw the chance to die, to be crucified with Christ was not a morbid thing, but the very gateway to Life.  I was drawn–slowly, fitfully (my response was fitful, but inexorably.  (emphasis added)

I pray to be drawn even more inexorably into this frame of mind, looking for those chances to die to self, confidently knowing that it is not death to die.

God knows

Have you ever been called by God to do something, and then as you began to respond to that calling, thought: “What am I doing?  I don’t have what’s needed.  etc. ”  I can do that a lot. This morning, as I was reading the biography of Hudson Taylor (see yesterday’s post), I was convicted by this story from his younger days.  (One piece of biographical information: Hudson had a strong and clear call from God to be a missionary to China.)

Hudson met Mr. Lobscheid [a missionary to China], who after spending time with him concluded: “Why, you would never do for China,” he exclaimed, drawing attention to Hudson’s fair hair and blue-grey eyes.  They call me ‘Red-haired Devil,’ but would run from you in terror!  You could never get them to listen at all.”

“And yet,” replied Hudson Taylor quietly, “it is God who has called me, and He knows all about the color of my hair and eyes.”

(It is Not Death to Die, pp. 56-57)

He knows all about us before He calls us.

Where the pressure lies

I am reading a new biography of J. Hudson Taylor, It is not Death to Die.  Taylor was a missionary to China in the early 20th century.  In my estimation, he was one of the greatest Protestant missionaries to have ever lived, and, along with Amy Carmichael, has had a profound effect on my life.  I always recommend reading his life.  Yesterday as some of our Sisters were sharing about the stresses they’re encountering in life, I could not help but remember this quote from Taylor and would like to pass it along to the rest of you as well:

It does not matter, really, how great the pressure is.  It only matters where the pressure lies.  See that it never comes between you and the Lord–then, the greater the pressure, the more it presses you to His breast.

May whatever is pressing in on you this day only serve to press you closer to His breast.