An intercessor is God’s strategist. He sees what God is after and goes along with Him. The men of the Bible always understood their specific commission. So must we. Any of us in any kind of circumstances can draw aside with God and examine before Him the whys and wherefores of what is happening. It will not take long before we begin to see clearly: it is for this to happen to these folks in my home, or for this in my Sunday School class or church, or to some areas of need in my city, or right out on some distant mission field. But it is specific. It is God saying to me (or to a group of us in something together), “You have been put by Me to stand in that gap. See that you carry it out.”
I well remember how clearly, soon after my conversion, just before World War I when I had received my commission to join the regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant, the Spirit of God was wrestling with me about my affection for an unsaved girl and telling me I could not have Christ and Antichrist in my heart at the same time. There was self blocking the vision all right! The battle was won the day I took the train to our training center, and clear as daylight in that railway compartment an inner word was spoken to me, though I was the youngest of untaught Christians in those days. It said, “You are joining your regiment. You will train for a year and then get out in the trenches. Many of you will be dead in a year. You make sure that some of those other fellows receive the gift of eternal life you now have.” I couldn’t “see” that great commission, until the self-block was out and I had died; but then I knew with no uncertainty my real commission within my King’s commission for the next five years of war, and it became my absorbing objective to carry it out.
Later, at Cambridge University for a post-war period, once again the commission came clear (we ex-soldiers were given very easy and short ways of getting the degrees we were going out for before the war): “Whatever degree you get or don’t get, you will fail at the University if you don’t get souls.” And once again, by God’s enabling and not without often reluctant obedience, it was carried out.
These are only illustrations of the certain fact that just as every redeemed person is by that same token a priest and intercessor, so everyone who sees the meaning of self-dying to our normal self reactions in our daily lives, can hear, find, and move in on God’s specific commission to them. And, of course, with mainline commissions there are always many and variable, even daily, local commissions.
With the commission comes action. An intercessor accepts the full meaning of a commission–that it is God’s declared intention to fulfill some saving purpose by him, and that everything he has and is, is going into it. No one is more active than he–call him God’s soldier, God’s servant, God’s husbandman, God’s athlete. Let us make no mistake–activity, not passivity, marks him for what he is. “A body hast thou prepared me,” he says with Jesus.
My own life has been spent in a missionary crusade, so I can draw my illustrations most easily from it; but that must not give any misleading idea that a foreign missionary is some very holy or very special kind of servant of Jesus Christ. You don’t think that for long if you are one, or live among them! They are the most ordinary humans, just seeking to answer what they understand to be the call of God to them, not any different from any housewife or businessman who equally seeks to answer what he understands to be his call. But I have seen by them for over forty years what dedicated action means. There is a goal to be reached: it is going to be reached.
C.T. Studd, my father-in-law, went to the Congo. As a young man, when England’s greatest cricketer, he had heard God’s call to take Christ to inland China. He went, exchanging cricket field for mission field. In China, inheriting from his father what might be a quarter of a million dollars in today’s values, he heard God’s call to sell all that he had for the spread of the Gospel. He did it.
Back in England twenty-five years later, with broken health and his wife an invalid, he heard God’s call to go to the heart of Africa. Against the advice of doctors, with empty pockets, called a fanatic by his friends, he went. He said, “If the young men won’t go, perhaps if an old one goes and dies, they may make his grave a stepping stone and go.” He lived in the Congo forests for sixteen years, while his wife by faith got off her sick bed to call recruits to join him. When he saw the crowds that poured out of the villages to greet him, he said, “Here is my black gold. They shall hear and hear to purpose that Christ died to save them.” They heard, and a short while after his death, twelve thousand Africans from fifteen tribes gathered at the spot where they buried him to thank God that he had brought Christ to them.
He founded the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade with the call to young men and women to follow Christ on the same principles of sacrifice and faith, so that all nations should hear. Over a thousand have followed in forty countries, and, as I have lived with them and been one of them myself for forty-five years, I know that commissioned men and women are men and women of action. By their bodies Christ takes His gospel to every creature: some at home in the kitchen and office: some wrestling with languages and translation: some at the printing presses: many tramping the villages in remote places or visiting the longhouses up jungle rivers: others teaching school and tending the sick, and all without salary or human security, fed by the Lord through His people.
What does it all mean? Merely this–that an intercessor is a man of action. What God commissions him to do, he does with body, mind and soul, and does not stop doing. He is a man with a purpose, a man with a goal to be reached, and the word from heaven has come to him, as to Moses, Joshua, the prophets, and to Jesus Himself. “This I am going to do, and I’m going to do it by you.”
Once again we say: Let no man think this refers to special activities by special people in special places. No, this word from heaven is being heard and heeded by thousands and tens of thousands of God’s intercessors in all nations all the time, and being acted upon in thousands of different ways–and among them you and me. The Church of Christ is this day “terrible as an army with banners.” Let us never think that, when in former days we were active for God and exhausted ourselves in good works before we knew the secret of our inner resources in Christ, therefore, there should be less activity now. No, the opposite. More activity than ever, more straight aiming than ever, because now our resources are endless. Then we only knew how to rest from our work: now we know how to rest in our work. No one can out-work, out-think, out-pray a man in whom the Spirit of God is.