Mighty Through God
The following chapters from Norman Grubb’s biography of missionary Edith Moules describes the Spirit’s dealings in the heart that must precede revivaland rings just as true for us today.
A Missionary Under Conviction
The hunger for a fresh visitation from God had been deeper in Percy than in Edith. He had the burden long before I did, she continued, for I felt that we were doing what we could. And after all, we were giving our very lives. But no, he had a burden. Perhaps she could not see as quickly as he did, because God had first to give her a deeper insight into her own sin and need. The Holy Spirit did that by opening her eyes one day through a word from Percy himself.
One morning my husband had been down to the brick kiln. In course of time we had started to make bricks. We had to learn the process and then teach the lepers the way to fetch the water, stamp out the mud, fashion the bricks, build the kiln, and so on. They had to be watched closely. Then in addition to the lepers, we had quite a number of non-leper workmen, who lived fairly near. They had to be cared for and protected somewhat for fear of infection. I well remember how that morning my husband came back with his face looking white and drawn. He told me what had happened. We had an evangelist and his two children who had become lepers; but as they were only slightly infected, his wife, a non-leper, chose to remain with the family, and we made them a special house at the edge of the camp. But she and the children would not obey the rules of going to the water hole assigned to the lepers. She did not like the idea. My husband had made a very strict law simply to guard our clean workmen from infection: No leper must cross this road. No leper must go to that water hole. And she had defied it again and again. That morning he had caught her there and said, You are a Christian and the wife of an evangelist. You are disobeying the rules, and of course others are following suit. She became angry, and all who know Africans, know how uncontrolled their tempers can be. She simply snatched the water pot off the top of her head and smashed it at his feet.
These things are hard to bear. But it was his comment that struck me. We have got to be very careful we dont just get a shop window here, he said. We have got to get down to God about this. If our Christians behave like this, what in the world can we expect from the pagans?
It was an arrow to Ediths heart and the beginning of a great revelation. God began to speak to me through those words. In England our shop windows are rather bare these days. Those chocolate boxes with beautiful pink ribbon on top look enticing, but inside they are empty. It is very easy to put all your goods in a shop window and have nothing much inside. How easy it is to be more or less calm without, but within is that feeling of utter impotence. God began to show me that while I was trying to discipline others, I didnt want for myself to accept the discipline of the Spirit through them. So often we can bear the things we deserve. But we cant bear the thing which we think we dont deserve.
Those girls, for instance, were difficult, and yet this was my commission from Godto preach the Gospel, to make disciples. I was definitely commissioned of God to discipline those girls. But the fact is that I didnt first want the discipline of God through those girls. God wanted to discipline me by their disobedience, so that I could come to the place of active faith where I could get through in the Spirit in the situation. For that is revival, that is real missionary enterprise. Its not enough that I go and give them the gospel, and slap down the Word as it were, saying, This Word will not return to God void; now you have got to get on with it. It is very easy to say that. But we have to be wholly taken up by God for this life-giving ministry, to be transmitters of life. That is revival.
I went to God again and again. She wrote. The lepers would malign us, and I would go to Him. Many and many a time I was on my face pleading for grace, until He showed me at long lengthmy fault of coursethat I did not need to plead with Him for grace. I was just to take it. But the trouble is we wont die. We wont get over that period of reaction, which can be as long as we like to make it. We dont have to plead for grace. We just help ourselves to it. And while we spend our time pleading with God to give us grace to take injustices, God will never sympathise. The simple Word of God shouts at me that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us: and until we understand that, we are never going to die for the brethren. Thats what we are supposed to be doing, dying for the brethren. When we go to the mission field, we are supposed to be an offering, dying for the brethren; and until we do, God cant really begin the work He wants to do through us. Thats my definite experience.
I heard someone say that when the world, even the Christian world, can see the Christian on the Cross and liking it, then Jesus shines out. But we have to take our shoes off. We are on holy ground when we talk like that. We may talk glibly about the Cross and dying, but Jesus only shines out when others see the Christian there and liking it. It takes the Spirit of God to enable us to go that way.
It was in those ways that God began to talk to me. I often had to call back those African girls after a period of discipline, and confess that the same thing was in me. I remember one night a girl would not forgive. She had been standing on my doorstep, and I had had several talks with her. She was one of the midwives in the maternity hospital, dealing with souls and taking meetings day by day. There had been a row among the nurses. Everything had been brought out into the open and all had agreed to forgive each other but this one girl, who said, I wont forgive. I stood with her for half an hour at a time; But you must forgive. The Word of God says, Let not the sun go down upon your wrath. We easily turn up the Scriptures to point them out to someone else. She was with me until two in the morning. About 11 oclock my husband said, My dear, you had better send her to bed. You must go anyway. I am not going to bed, I answered, because if we dont get through this now, we start again in the morning. And I went out and told her that this thing had to be put right, and that neither she nor I were going to bed that night until it was settled.
At 2 oclock she broke. Now, I said, we shall go across to the Nurses Home. So we knocked at the door, wakened everybody up and had a Hallelujah meeting on the spot. But as I went back to my room, that voice inside said, Thats all very pretty and nicely staged, but that same situation is in you. And I had to go to those girls and tell them just that.
He had to show me many other things too. I had to learn that I was not a very important person. He is continually having to show me that! Many times I had to confess to my own husband, because I thought my way was better than his. And in order to make me trust the Holy Spirit in others, He put me on my back for a period. He wanted to teach me very definitely that the African young men and women whom He had given to us were going to be used by Him. I was afraid of letting go. I felt they didnt know enough. I am sure those who have any kind of medical training will understand that. Life is precious and we have to be very careful with the patients that come to us. I felt that extremely. And I often felt the nurses were not careful enough. When it came to maternity work, I was afraid not to be present. Medical work can get you so tied up that your eye must be for ever glued to a microscope or you must be ferreting out some new disease or other. But there has to be balance, and God was training me through these girls. I know that when we are utterly abandoned to Him so that the life of the Spirit can flow through us, He shows us that balance. God was also training these girls, especially the one who was leader of the nurses band. So He allowed me to be ill. I would give my instructions through the window from my bed. And they gained confidence and got much of their training from the Lord, I believe, by learning how to hold on to Him, and how to pray in situations when I was incapable of getting off my bed.
The Secret of the Cross
The secret of the Cross was opening to Ediths inner sight. That which she had embraced by faith seventeen years before, when she first met C.T. Studd, the Holy Spirit was now making actual in her life. The secret of the Cross. Life only flows out from the Cross. But the Cross is where Jesus died for me, the Just for the unjust, and where He now united me with Himself, in His death, over and over again for others. I, the sensitive, earnest, serving, sacrificing I, must die, that He may live in and through me. People try me, fail me, drain me, spoil my work with their carelessness, frustrate me with their stubbornness, hurt me with their thanklessness, misrepresent me in their blindness, and my only answer is to be the Crossto die, to die, to die. I kick against such a spineless way, a thousand times, but a thousand times I have to come back to it; it is the only way. It is the meekness that inherits the earth. It is the weakness in which strength is made perfect. It is the nothingness that possess all things, the poverty that makes many rich. It is the foolishness of God which is wiser than men. For what it does is simple. It puts my little I out, crucified with Him; it gives His mighty I, all-wise, allmeek, all-loving, right of way through me; for the reverse side of the Cross in action is always the resurrection in equal action. Blessed Cross, where I die daily. Blessed resurrection, by which Christ the Conqueror goes out through me to His inevitable conquests over Satan in other lives. All the strain goes out of life, as I learn the daily secret of this brokenness in Calvary, for no longer do I put my wits, my energies, my impotent strivings against the contradictions and frustrations of life; I have learned where little I belongs, ever in the tomb of Christ, that His big I may multiply His grace through me, as the five loaves to the five thousand. What a revelation and release. But the discovery can only be made, as Edith began to make it, in the valley of humiliation, the place of self-revelation and self-despair.
Edith was a gifted woman. As a nurse it is safe to say that both her medical knowledge and ability were much beyond the average. As an organizer she was obviously outstanding. She had tremendous drive and a rapid-thinking mind. She was an excellent French linguist. She was a tireless worker. It is almost impossible to grasp the number of departments of the work which came into being during those four years, and which were under the direct supervision of Percy and Edith, with no other missionaries to help; the main leper camp, the dispensary and hospital, the leper boys and girls schools, the industrial school, the building and planting, the numerous meetings, daily and on Sunday, the clean childrens home, five other camps visited each week, the keeping of all the medical records, and on top of all this, the maternity home for non-leper mothers which so often entailed a night summons; the oversight of the non-leper workmen; and their constant ministry to sick and tired missionaries who came to stay in their private home, both because they had made it specially comfortable for that purpose, and because of her medical skill.
But we all have the defects of our virtues. Just because of her drive and brilliance, she tended to overwhelm her fellow-workers. She could get worked up. And if the bit was between her teeth on a matter, she was not easy to consult with. She had her foibles as we all have. She was unusually welldressed, whether on the field or at home. Some thought her extravagant in this respect; and almost a daintiness of personal habit and affectedness of speech, were combined with her amazing efficiency.
We all have our idiosyncrasies, our rough corners which need rounding off, areas of our living in which our deeds do not always conform to our profession and self is in evidence rather than Christ. Indeed we all have our besetting sins (although we usually prefer to call them our infirmities!), but so often these are our blind spots. We just do not see ourselves as others see us; still less as God sees us.
Edith was no different from the rest of us in these respects. But she was in another. Through rugged, thorny pathways the Spirit led her to a new, yet very simple walk with God, so simple that it seems childishly obvious. Yet it radically transformed Edith, as it has thousands of others. It meant the difference between a dynamically efficient and a dynamically spiritual Edith; between an ordinary ministry and a revival one. It meant that an Edith hard to cooperate with, who had an acceleration like a high-powered racing car, became an Edith humble and sensitive to her danger spots, dynamic and efficient as ever, not by any means always conquering her old tendencies, but open and eager to be checked, ready to recognize manifestations of the self-life, ready to break and confess and get right with God and man; an Edith it was a delight to work with, and best of all, an Edith through whom there poured a lifegiving flow of revival power to those among whom she ministered. (Continued in the next issue )
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 22 No 4
- The Life of Faith
- How It Really Works
- Faith Lessons
- Faith Defies Difficulty
- Words to Live By
- Testimony–C.T. Studd
- Wanted: Faith and Fools
- How Acquire Faith?
- Bible Study: Faith
- Not my Will but Yours
- Tape Review: "Faith Creates a Reality"
- Mighty Through God
- Editor’s Note
- Book Review: The Law of Faith, Chapter 26