To the natural heart and the unsanctified mind the commands of God are foolishness. ‘Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee’ (Gen. xii. 1), said God to Abraham. How foolish to leave home and wealth and greatness to go to a land that he knew not! But Abraham believed and obeyed and became heir of the world.
‘I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt’ (Exod. iii. 10), was God’s word to Moses. What folly for this poor shepherd, who forty years before had fled from the face of Pharaoh a hunted murderer and vagabond, to seek to deliver a nation of slaves from the iron hand of the haughtiest, mightiest monarch of earth! But he believed and obeyed and the proud king was humbled to the dust and the nation of slaves was freed.
‘I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me’ (Acts xxvi. 16-18), said the Lord to Paul. Think of it! One lone man belonging to a conquered, despised, hated people, sent to the proud, idolatrous utterly godless nations with the message that a crucified Jew was the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, and that there was no salvation except in His name.
What foolhardiness for this man without wealth, national prestige, political power or social favor to start out in the face of bitter religious hatred and contempt, and national and political antagonism, to convert a lost world to this new faith of a day! But he was ‘not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.’ He went and the Holy Ghost went with him. He went to unparalleled toils and sufferings, but he won unparalleled victories and heavenly joys and consolations.
They whipped him time and again; they stoned him; they thrust him into dark, loathsome dungeons, reeking with slime and filth; three times he suffered shipwreck, he made many long and tedious journeys when there were no ocean greyhounds and no lightning express trains with Pullman coaches and dining-cars. He was in perils from the water, from robbers, from his own countrymen, from the heathen, in the city, in the wilderness, in the sea, and, worst of all, among false brethren. He suffered from weariness and painfulness; from watchings often when it would have been death to him to go to sleep; from hunger and thirst, from fastings often when his spirit was so engaged with his tremendous labors and difficulties that his body refused food; from cold and nakedness, besides the care of all the churches with their young converts just saved from heathenism and continually beset by false teachers within, as well as suffering the most dreadful persecutions from without.
But none of these things moved him, and God helped him to do more to bring the world to God than any other man who ever lived.
Does your call to work for God seem foolish, unreasonable, impossible? ‘Have faith in God’ (Mark xi. 22). Obey like Abraham and Moses and Paul, and you will yet praise Him for all the way He led you and for the part He gave you to do in winning the world from Satan back to God.
An officer now by my side had been a soldier for some years; at last he felt he would some time have to go into the work. The call came while his hammer was lifted to strike a blow. He was not disobedient to the call of God. The blow was not struck, and before noon he had sold his kit of tools and for years he has been a successful officer and is daily increasing in the gifts and graces of those God calls to be leaders.
Does God call you? Be not disobedient to the heavenly vision. Stay not in the order of your going. Let nothing hinder you. Go and God will be with you as He was with Moses and Paul, and as the years speed by you will increasingly thank God that no business prospects, no fond friendships, no lust of power or love of secluded ease kept you from the battle’s front with its burdens and bitter conflicts and fierce sorrows and soul-satisfying triumphs. One soul joining in the anthem of the redeemed ones around the Throne, saved from Hell through your labors, will pay you for all your toils; one look at the face of Jesus will reward you for all your privations. What care Peter and John and Paul now, if they did lose all to follow Jesus, and did suffer and die for the men they sought to save? And what will you care?