Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Having A 'Spirit of Faith'

James Hudson Taylor was a missionary in China in the late 1800's and was the founder of China Inland Mission. By the time of his death there were 205 mission stations, over 800 missionaries and over 125,000 Christians as a part of China Inland Mission! How in the world did he accomplish that? I think part of the secret is found in his well known statement, "I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done."

Taylor believed that every great work of God appears impossible at first. I agree, in fact, the reality is that if it really is the work of God then it is likely impossible to man. One of the principles of participating in God's work in the Bible is that He calls us to do things that can't possibly be done without Him. God regularly challenges His servants to do things that seem completely out of their reach and then He invites them to invite Him to get involved. Caleb and Joshua had a different spirit than the other spies that Moses sent into the promised land. They saw the impossible challenge before them just like the others did, but they also took into account the all powerful God who was with them. In fact, after taking the impossible nature of their task and the all powerful nature of God into account they made this statement, "We are well able." (Number 13:30)

Of course, Hudson Taylor also knew that even though God was with him as he engaged impossible challenges, there would be work for him to do as well and that work would be difficult. God works with us, doing what we cannot do, but we also work with God, doing what He asks us to do. God's invites us into the realm of the impossible so that we need Him but He also invites us into the realm of the difficult so that we have a purpose to engage our best efforts into. The fact that God does miracles and works with us does not let us off the hook of engaging ourselves fully into the difficult missions that He places us on.

What joy when we actually see the fruit of the task that looked impossible and that we stepped into in faith believing God would work with us and that we worked hard for with Him! We are finally bearing fruit for the glory of God! Sometimes this happens over the course of a few hours or days. Other times it takes place over the course of years or even lifetimes. I believe much of the best fruit we will ever enjoy seeing from our lives we will only really see in heaven. But Taylor was right, "...there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done."

What impossible thing is God asking you to be a part of? Maybe it's personal - making a change in your life that can only happen if God is accomplishing it. Maybe it's with your relationships or family - seeing God do a work in your home, marriage, friendships or children. Maybe it's working together with your church or a mission agency to see God's kingdom furthered in people's lives. Whatever it is, press on inviting the God of the impossible to work with you, press on engaging your best efforts in the difficult task and then enjoy seeing the accomplished work that only happens when we partner with God in His purposes for our lives.

I believe one of Taylor's secrets was that he tackled the call of God on his life with the same 'spirit of faith' that that Caleb and Joshua did and that the Apostle Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 4:13-15

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

As our church celebrates it's 20th anniversary this month I am reminded of the spirit of faith that those who first felt called and dreamed and planned for this work here. I know it was impossible (and they called on God!), then difficult, and then one day, it was done. I pray that for the next twenty years we who are now a part of this church don't just sit and enjoy the fruits of their labors but that we press on to accomplish even more impossible works so that more and more people can be reached with His grace for His glory!