Not less than everything.

September 28, 2011

A few years ago, maybe longer ago, I read half of Valerie Griffiths’ Not Less than Everything: The Courageous Women Who Carried the Christian Gospel to China.  (Among the first was Maria Dyer, Hudson Taylor’s first wife.)  I enjoyed the read, but about 200-some pages in, I put it down and picked up another book.

Last weekend, I finally picked it up again.  Right where I left off.

This time around, the magnitude of their sacrifices hits me harder for some reason.  I feel a little more keenly the consequences of their decisions: leaving friends and family, living in hostile regions, giving up certain luxuries, risking their lives, or forsaking the prospects of an earthly family for the Kingdom.  Putting myself in their shoes, it hits me where I’m tender.  Maybe it’s because I’m engaged.  Maybe it’s because I’m getting soft.  Or both.  The longer I live, the easier I find it is to put down my heart’s tendrils into this earth and earthly things, the more I think I tally when I count the cost.

But stunning — that’s how much weightier the gospel was to them.  That’s how much weightier their love was for Christ, for His cause.  It isn’t that they were heartless, stoic, aescetics.  They just loved the gospel more.  They loved Christ more.  His cause more.  Enough to suspend everything else.  Enough that everything else looked like hate in comparison.

And they were real women.  Not angels.  Not super-human.  Real women with indwelling sin, a nasty flesh, weaknesses, earthly longings, emotional fluctuations.  But by the grace of God, they wholly gave their weak selves to Christ and His work, put their hands to the plow, and never looked back.

Today, I just finished the chapter on Eva French, Francesca French, and Mildred Cable, affectionately known as the “Trio” to their Chinese friends.  After years of fruitful ministry, when others were expecting them to finally comfortably retire, they planned to take the gospel to even more unreached areas of China along the Silk Road, traveling hundreds and hundreds of miles in their old age.  From that period, Mildred Cable wrote two things that I was challenged by and wanted to pass along:

We need scarcely remind you that many incidents which are romantic and faith-inspiring when viewed from a distance, are wrought out in circumstances when loyalty is tested to the uttermost, and guidance sought through the cross-lights which but accentuate the confusion of the dimly-discerned way — when the servant of God has no light, and must stay his (sic) heart upon Jehovah.

During the more than 30 years of my missionary life I have seen the seed spring up in such unexpected places that I have done with questionings and fears as to whether there will be results.  Statistics in things spiritual mean nothing to me now.  It is ours unstintingly to sow the seed whose life is in itself.  It is God’s husbandry and He will give the increase.

These women, among many others, gave everything.  But they were no fools.  They knew it would be nothing compared to what they would gain — indeed, what they have gained now.

Ah.  We ought to learn of such women.  And of our God, anew.

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2 Responses to “Not less than everything.”

  1. keziah kim Says:

    thank you for sharing. this hits so close to my heart because its been something i have wondered over and wrestled with more recently…seriously, so much to learn.

  2. tia Says:

    Me, too, Kesh … so much to learn. But a good Teacher. :] ❤


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