Over work or overflow? Which best describes your life at home and in your ministry?
There is nothing better than serving our Lord Jesus out of a life of gratitude that spills over from sitting at His feet. Conversely, there is possibly nothing harder than serving Jesus in our own power and strength. I recently re-read an old classic called Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secrets (I encourage you to read this book as well!). Hudson Taylor left the comforts of his home because he had such a burden for the lost people of China. Never looking back, he experienced many years of incredible ministry, sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears. He never told people of his needs, whether financial or for more laborers. Rather, he just prayed that funds would come in, down to the exact dollar, and they always did. Likewise, he prayed for an exact number of laborers, and they would come.
Yet something changed in his ministry. He called it the “exchanged life.” He exchanged stress and worry for God’s blessing and peace. He could not contain his joy as he realized many of his efforts had been in vain. When the Spirit came from on high, however, oh what power! Oh what joy! Oh what peace! He still agonized, prayed, and was burdened for the lost, ever crying out to God. Yet now it was as if God was carrying him: God had the worry, God had the care. There was a fresh dedication and devotion to God where everything was steeped in prayer, dripping with meaning. Every sentence he spoke was alive with the power of God. As his heart was awakened, so he awakened others’ hearts. As his heart was stirred, so was he used to stir other hearts. God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack God’s supply! Our flesh accomplishes nothing; our human nothingness makes room for divine sufficiency.
Hudson Taylor explained and experienced the “exchanged life” as “all my strength, striving, and feeling was now exchanged for His peace and power. Christ is my all in all. He does the work!” Yes, the weight and strain was gone! The more he strove after God the further he got. The struggle was over! We see in John 15 that Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…(Galatians 2:20).” No more thirst. No more wandering in the wilderness. No more unsatisfied days. “I am connected to Christ, fully abandoned to Him,” he declared.
It has been said that the human spirit fails unless the Holy Spirit fills. Oh how we need to be reminded of Ephesians 5:18, “…be filled with the Spirit!” This is the secret to living an empowered life! “And with that, He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (John 20:22)”; “When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit…Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:15, 17).”
It has been said, “He who has the Holy Spirit in his heart and the Scriptures in his hands has all he needs.” "The Word of God teaches the children of God how to live, while the Spirit of God supplies the power to live for the Glory of God.” What comfort and encouragement this offers us in all areas of life! When Hudson Taylor suffered the loss of a child, the Lord was the refreshing that his weary soul needed. When he lost his wife he said, “His joy will overcome my pain.” Someone noted, “You must be a very great man for God to pour out such blessings!” Hudson Taylor replied, “On the contrary, I am a very weak man, possibly small enough for God to use.” The motto by which he lived was: “Are you in a hurry, flurried, distressed? Look up! See the Man of Glory! Let the face of Jesus shine upon you - the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. Is He worried, troubled, distressed? There is no wrinkle on His brow, no least shade of anxiety. Yet the affairs are His as much as yours.”
The secret to his life’s mission was that he put God first, not the mission! The blessedness of his life was that he put fellowship with Christ above all. That is the secret for our lives as well. When we get back to sweet fellowship with our Lord, everything else will flow out of that.
As an old hymn so eloquently stated:
Once it was the blessing, now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, now it is His Word;
Once His gift I wanted, now, the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, now Himself alone.
All in all forever, only Christ I’ll sing;
Everything is in Christ, and Christ is everything.
Once ’twas painful trying, now ’tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation, now the uttermost;
Once ’twas ceaseless holding, now He holds me fast;
Once ’twas constant drifting, now my anchor’s cast.
Once ’twas busy planning, now ’tis trustful prayer;
Once ’twas anxious caring, now He has the care;
Once ’twas what I wanted, now what Jesus says;
Once ’twas constant asking, now ’tis ceaseless praise.
Once it was my working, His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him, now He uses me;
Once the pow’r I wanted, now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored, now for Him alone.
Once I hoped in Jesus, now I know He’s mine;
Once my lamps were dying, now they brightly shine;
Once for death I waited, now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored safe within the veil.
(“Himself” by Albert B. Simpson, 1891)
We would see Jesus,