On April 13th, 1832 George Muller received a letter from Henry Craik, his friend and co-laborer in ministry, to come to Bristol to join him in the work there. One week later, on April 20th, George Muller left for Bristol encouraged by the preaching, teaching, witnessing… you know, all the ministry stuff— that he was soon to be engulfed in. The air was full of excitement and anticipation, much like we are as we plan for a two week summer mission trip.
“Boy, when we get to the mission field, we’re going to win the area to Christ!” Right.
Question: But what about now? What about your preparation for that mission outreach? How are you preparing today for the harvest tomorrow?
Answer: Oh I know, it’s the classic “bloom where you are planted” thing. “I’m looking for every opportunity to tell people about Jesus right where I live.”
Good. Excellent, in fact. But what about your private time with the Lord? What about your personal accountability and relationship with Him? Are you too enamored, too giddy with the “doing” that you have neglected the “abiding”? And if so, what are you prepared to do about it?
Be encouraged, for this is exactly the lesson that our friend, Mr. Muller, learned on his way to Bristol. In fact, Arthur Pierson, Muller’s biographer, reflects on this very lesson the young man of God learned and, so it seems, never forgot.
The following is from Pierson’s book, George Muller of Bristol:
On April 20th, Mr. Muller left for Bristol. On the journey he was dumb, having no liberty in speaking for Christ or even in giving away tracts, and this led him to reflect. He saw that the so-called ‘work of the Lord’ had tempted him to substitute action for meditation and communion. He had neglected that ‘still hour’ with God which supplies to spiritual life alike its breath and its bread. No lesson is more important for us to learn, yet how slow are we to learn it: that for the lack of habitual seasons set apart for devout meditation upon the word of God and for prayer, nothing else will compensate.
We are prone to think, for example, that converse with Christian brethren, and the general round of Christian activity, especially when we are busied with preaching the Word and visits to inquiring or needy souls, make up for the loss of aloneness with God in the secret place. We hurry to a public service with but a few minutes of private prayer, allowing precious time to be absorbed in social pleasures, restrained from withdrawing from others by a false delicacy, when to excuse ourselves for needful communion with God and his Word would have been perhaps the best witness possible to those whose company was holding us unduly! How often we rush from one public engagement to another without any proper interval for renewing our strength in waiting on the Lord, as though God cared more about the quantity than the quality of our service! *
Wow. Point blank, slam-dunk, “slap-ya-up-side-da-head” for me. How about you? I am guilty of this very act— continually. So much so that I’m beginning to realize that I must crave the pleasure and acceptance of men, mere humans like myself, more than the pleasure of God. I must be a card-carrying man-pleaser and not a God-pleaser. Ugh. Like how stupid is that!
Resolution #1 for 2014 – actually for the rest of my life.
I will strive to keep the good subordinate to the best. Let’s flesh that out. It means that ministry, being good, will always take second place to intimacy with the Lord, which is, obviously— best. I will seek His face first, and allow ministry to follow as an after effect or a result of that intimate relationship. I will place abiding where it should be in my spiritual life and try to live the years I have left as a Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, and not as a Martha, working in the kitchen too concerned about putting Cheese Wiz on Wheat Thins.
After all, as an old preacher once counseled me years ago, “Son, you take care of the depth of your ministry (intimacy with God) and let the Lord worry about its breadth.” Exactly. Couldn’t have said it better.
* George Muller of Bristol by Arthur T. Pierson, page 90. Proverbs 29:7,18,23.
Proverb for Today:
The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor, the wicked does not understand such concern.
Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law.
A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor. *