Monday, March 9, 2009

Thoughts

I've been thinking a lot lately about a certain characteristic of God. I'm not sure what to call it, because I don't know all the right theological terms. In my mind, I call it the complete-in-control-ness of God.

When I stop to think about it, I really get overwhelmed.

Some of you may remember me referring to the book "Mountain Rain," a biography of missionary James O. Fraser. I am still reading the book, and am becoming more impressed with every page turn.

It is a well-written book. As a writer, I appreciate and notice that. But the topic of the writing jerks my attention away from the way it is written. Is that not the sign of a good writer, anyway?

This book oozes the "in-control-ness" of our God. I had never heard of James Fraser prior to reading this book, and now I wonder why. His life is amazing. Or, rather, the way he was used is amazing.

He let God use him.

That's it. He labored for several years in tucked-away corners of China, casting seed on dry cracked ground. Nothing happened. The tribal people could have been modern-day Americans for all the way they received the gospel. Whoever said the ignorant savages are hungry for truth and light was just plain mistaken. Satan loves his high places too well to give them up, and mankind loves his sin too well to accept the gospel.

But then James Fraser got a prayer group laboring for him back in England. He wrote each member of the prayer group separately, and they wrote to him. Listen to what he says to them. This blows me away; please read all of it:

"...I really believe that if every particle of prayer put up by the home churches in behalf of the infant churches of the mission field were removed, the latter would be swamped by an incoming flood of the powers of darkness. ...Just as a plant may die for lack of watering, so may a genuine work of God die and rot for lack of prayer.

"One might compare heathenism with a great mountain, threatening to crush the infant church, or a great pool of stagnant water always threatening to quench the flames of Holy Ghost life and power in the native churches, and only kept dammed up by the power of God. God is able to do this much and more, but He will not do it, if all we out here and you at home sit in our easy chairs with our arms folded. Why prayer is so indispensable we cannot just say, but we had better recognize the fact even if we cannot explain it. Do you believe that the church of God would be alive today but for the high-priestly intersession of the Lord Jesus Christ on the throne? I do not.

"...I will not labor the point: you will see from what I am saying that I am not asking you just to give "help" in prayer as a sort of side-line, but I am trying to roll the main responsibility of this prayer warfare on you. I want you to take the BURDEN of these people on your shoulders, I want you to wrestle with God for them. I do not so much want to be a regimental commander in these things as an intelligence officer. I shall feel more and more that a big responsibility rests on me to keep you well informed...

"...Anything must be done rather than let this prayer service be dropped or even allowed to stagnate. We often speak of intercessory work as of being vital importance. I want to prove that this is an actual fact, by giving my best energies to it, as God may lead."


And he did. This man spent hours in prayer, asking God to move among the Lisu people. He went among them, preaching the gospel, then would return to prayer. Out he would go, then return to prayer. Still nothing.

Finally, he went to spent some time in a Chinese city. While he was there, away from the mountains, God did His work.

On Jame's return to the mountains, the people sought out him, asking how to be saved. Family after family, village after village, came to him begging for preaching. He would enter a village where before was only hostility, and find that half the families had already torn down their idol shelves, and "decided to become Christians." They only waited on him to tell them how to do it. God brought them to birth - James Fraser was, as he put it "only the midwife."
I wish I could give each one of you the book to read. The details really explain everything. This historical account sends shivers down my spine. Look at what God can do without help!

That sound terrible, doesn't it? Of all the audacity! Of COURSE God can do things without our help! But do we really act that way?

I don't mean we aren't to witness and testify and work for the Master. That is only rightful obedience. What I mean is that we often forget our place. We often think we must produce the results. We think we must change a person's mind, by arguing, by different approaches, by anything we can use to change their mind. We wear ourselves out doing work we were never assigned!

Another thought that has been impressed on my heart is the willingness James Fraser had to wait for a harvest. During that long time of preparation - years of work - he would have times of discouragement, but always returned to this hope: he had sought the will of God, and prayer confidently that the Lisu people would come to Christ.

God would not disappoint.

Of this James was sure. So he labored on, confident that things were happening under the soil, where he could not see.

Any gardener knows that a plant sprung suddenly up will have no strong root system and will wither away at the first blast of trouble. A plant that spends a long time "doing things" below the soil will be strong and healthy when it sticks its head into the sunlight. Do we think God didn't do this on purpose? Did not the same God make the human heart and the green plant?

Through this book, I have been encouraged to have patience. I laugh at little people who dig up their seeds in an effort to hurry things along. How I should laugh at myself now! Did I think I could hurry God?

Well, these are things that have been going on in my mind. Perhaps they will comfort and inspire your heart as they have mine.

God bless,
Amber

1 comment:

Sandra said...

I would call this attribute of God Absolute Sovereignty. I think that's the theological lingo for it =]

I find it so strange and sad that some Christians grow so impatient for people to be saved, but God doesn't, even though He knows the reality of what they will experience if they don't.

Also, I'm finding out very quickly that the Christian life is about balance. We can sit back and not do anything thinking God's all powerful and if He wants to do something, He can do it and He doesn't need us to lift a finger. Or we can work ourselves to death thinking that no one will be saved if we don't witness, preach and work ourselves into the ground trying to save people. Both of these are wrong. The right attitude is in the middle somewhere. Balance applies to allot of other things in the Christian life too, this is just an example.

Thanks for sharing this with us Amber, sounds like a great book!