Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Spiritual Secrets

I’ve just finished reading Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, a biography of that well-known missionary pioneer to China. In a time when all Protestant missionaries were huddled together in five coastal cities, Hudson’s burning desire was to go inland and reach all of China.

To do this he formed his own mission organization. Two stipulations he made was that his missionary recruits live, dress and act like the Chinese they were trying to reach in so far as following God would allow and that there was not to be any fund-raising. “By 1900 there were 750 China Inland Mission members. Four million dollars had been raised without anyone but God being asked to give, and there was no debt. Over 700 Chinese workers were connected with the mission and 13,000 Chinese believers had been baptized.”* In one three-week period in 1891 66 missionaries arrived in Shanghai for his mission alone. Others caught his vision and by the time he died in 1905, men and women from many mission organizations had not only reached every province of China but were strongly entrenched.

What was his secret? How did he have the gall, faith and courage to invite young men and women to work in China with no financial security but the promises of God? He spent time with God. “From 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. was his usual prayer time—the time he could count on being undisturbed in prayer.”** In 40 years, he had read the Bible 40 times. Wow!

But he had another secret that started before he ever went to China, when he was a teen in England. It started out as an exercise in learning to endure difficult living conditions. In doing this, he found that he only used a third of his income and was able to give the rest away to those in need. But then he thought, “When I get out to China, I shall have no claim on anyone for anything. My only claim will be on God. How important to learn, before leaving England, to move man, through God, by prayer alone.”*** If his faith needed to grow, he would learn to exercise it.

His employer often forgot to pay him so one way he began to exercise his faith was to not remind him when it was payday but simply appeal to God for his need. One time his boss was several weeks late paying him and he had only one large coin left when a man came to him in need. He chose to give the man his coin, uncertain whether he’d be able to eat the next day because of it. It was that very next day that his boss asked if he had paid Hudson yet. When he went to medical school, he declined all help but continued to depend on God for all things and always his needs were met.

How much time do I spend with God and how dependent am I on him? Is he the first one I turn to or the last? I would like to think I have the faith of Hudson Taylor but I know I don’t.

Father God, I want to be completely dependent on you for all things—not just for my financial needs but also for my emotional, physical, mental and spiritual needs. Help me turn to you first in all things.

*pages 262, 263
**page 269
***page 13

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