Aventuring for God
By PASTOR H. E. WIGGINS.
[photo: PASTOR H. E. WIGGINS, Bible School Principal.]
Standing on the threshold of another fateful year,, we endeavour with anxious hearts to wrest from it its manifold secrets. Will it bring more turmoil to the troubled nations? the intensifying of Israel's travail? and the further retrenchment of the professing Christian Church or . . .!! But we do but conjecture! For to-day we are vouchsafed strength and for to-morrow there is hope.
God holds the key of all unknown,
And I am glad;
If He had trusted it to me,
I might be sad.
We can, however, rest assured that the past has not exhausted the possibilities nor the demand for doing great things for God. The uncertain eventful days ahead will be pregnant with golden opportunities of showing the calibre and character of God's true adventurers of faith in dark and difficult times.
It would seem, amidst the ultra-civilisation of to-day, that the spirit of the pioneer has vanished, yet the populace can still be thrilled by the exploits of intrepid explorers, bushmen, airmen, and even godly Pastors such as Pastor Niemoller of Germany. These men are still attempting the impossible that their successors may revel in that which they have made possible by their acts of daring. Day by day we are made aware of the fact that the realm of the impossible has not been fully or finally explored.
It is also apparent that the uttermost part of the earth has not yet been reached with the Gospel, the uttermost depth of Christ's mercy has not yet been plumbed, nor the highest pinnacle of spiritual success yet attained. Venturesome volunteers are the need of the hour, and let it be noted, volunteers are the aristocracy of pioneers.
No more noble example of venturing for God could be found than that of Abraham. Yet Abraham could never have become Abraham the father of the faithful if he had remained in Ur of the Chaldees. No, he must quit his happy home and journey forth into the untried and unknown, that his faith might rise to all its glorious proportions in' his soul. Certain factors characterised Abraham's venture of faith, which we shall do well to consider before snapping our dearest ties to risk all in a similar venture.
HIS CALL WAS SURE.
You will note the call came to a prepared character.
Uncompromisingly standing for Almighty God against evil practices, rife not only in the city and land wherein he dwelt but also in his father's house, Abraham had demonstrated his separated walk with God prior to his call. Like his descendant Gideon, we can see him smashing to pieces the helpless images of idolatry. But for this prior training in the ways of God it is doubtful whether he would have heard the call of God when it came. Friends of God are not mushroom growths, but like the trees, which can withstand the storm, they are the result of years of sun, wind and tempest. Novices in the ways and works of God are never called to great responsibilities. We may be sure of our call when we are sure of our character.
You will further note the call came in a direct fashion. “The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charan, and said unto him, “Get thee out. . . . into the land which I shall shew thee.” Acts 7:23. We cannot be sure when the Divine appearance was manifested; it may have been in the peace of eventide whilst the patriarch meditated or amid the arduous duties of the day; but when it came it arrested and awed Abraham. The intimation he received was of a few words: “Get thee out . . . into . . .,” but it came with all the authority of the Eternal Majesty. When the call of God conies to prepared souls, multiplicity of signs, words and carnal advice are rarely necessary. The supernatural emphasis of the Divine call is an all-sufficient guarantee of the step advocated.
You must not forget that the call makes big demands.
The leaving of family, country and comfort to walk a lonely pathway was mo mean sacrifice, but it was essential if he was to achieve God's purpose for him. God's elect are mostly the exiles, martyrs, and cross-bearers. Each step of real advance in the Divine programme involves an altar on which is offered some dear fragment of the self-life. Of Hudson Taylor it was said, “He stopped at no sacrifice in following Christ.”
HIS CALL WAS COUPLED WITH A PROMISE.
God's commands are not always accompanied by reasons, but always by promises. Reasons excite discussion and controversy. Promises show reasons which, though hidden, are all-sufficient. Reason is intellectual, but a promise is practical, positive and literal. 'Twere better to have the spirit of men who rode in the mad charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava:
“There's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die”
than to reason oneself out of the plan and purpose of God. Looking through modern eyes, we might consider that the hardships involved in the summons to exile were too great to be borne, but the promise attached far more than recompensed the patriarch. Glimpses of the City whose builder and maker is God loosened his hold on the fascinations of Ur, and cheered him on his way through the lonely wilderness. He found it easier not to dwell on the sacrifice entailed but on the gracious promise assured.
HIS CALL WAS CONFIRMED THROUGH OBEDIENCE.
What blessed fulfilment of the promises followed Abraham's obedience to the Divine Call! His disobedience would have incurred for him the obscurity of an unknown grave instead of inscription upon the eternal record of God's heroes. It would appear that Abraham's obedience was not complete in the first instance, for he clung to old associates. How Terah, his father, was prevailed upon to accompany him no one can tell, but go he did in halfhearted fashion. Abraham's pace was necessarily slackened until death providentially removed the hindrance. How important, if it is necessary to have companions in the work God has assigned to us, to choose the right ones Especially do we need to be careful of the mate who is united to us in the marriage ties. Many a bright, capable life, full of promise, has been shattered for God's service by disobeying the Divine Law of not being “unequally yoked together.” Beware of partial obedience to the call of God! Those who completely disobey the eall of God invariably acquire the sourness of disappointment, and their life becomes monotonous, and humdrum. They have forfeited the daily visions of God, the invigorating battles with sin, and the supreme joy of soul-winning. Abraham was not of this order for although he was undoubtedly called “Enthusiast,” “Fanatic” and laughed at as a “Fool,” he staggered not through unbelief. His obedience was of the order that made no reservations and tarried not by the way, although many a. beautiful oasis tempted him to settle down. He was a pilgrim passing through foreign soil upon his appointed route to his new Home and country. It behoves us to remember that we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth. . . . and desire a better country.” Hebs. 11:13-16.
My soul is ever fired with inspiration as I read of C. T. Studd, the all England cricketer and Test Match player, “The man who went all out to be a cricketer, later went all out to glorify his Saviour and extend his Kingdom.” With tears and beseechings a loving mother sought to stay him from going to China, but he went and triumphed. His words when launching out on his African venture are well worth re-echoing to-day: “Too long have we been waiting for one another to begin! The time for waiting is past! The hour of God has struck! War is declared! Should such men as we fear? Before the world, aye, before the sleepy, lukewarm faithless namby pamby Christian world, we will dare to trust our God, we will venture our all for Him, we will live and we will .die for Him, and we will do it with His joy unspeakable singing aloud in our hearts. We will a thousand times sooner die trusting only in our Lord than live trusting in man. And when we come to this position the battle is already won, and the end of the glorious campaign in sight We will have the real holiness of God, not the sickly stuff of talk and dainty words and pretty thoughts; we will have a masculine Holiness, one of daring faith and works for Jesus Christ.”
The call for consecrated service in 1939 is to needy pioneer evangelism, the whitened missionary fields with their awakening peoples, the restoration of aggressive open-air testimony, Sunday School measures, and countless other needs. Where do you fit in? Surely God has some Luther from the cloisters of Rome, some Wesley from ecclesiastical pomp and ceremony, or some Niemoller from National Atheism to take up the challenge of today!
Should some reader hesitate to be obedient to the heavenly vision because of seemingly impossible circumstances, may I remind you that the aspect of the impossible associated with the venture is but an added attraction, because it is this which brings into play the wonder working power of faith and makes possible as nothing else could, the manifestation of the Superhuman.
The restless millions wait
Him whose dawning
Maketh all things new.
Christ also waits— ..
But men are slow and few.
Have we done all we could?
Have I? Have you?