Sunday 11 August 2013

Yes I Am 40 - A Faith Illustration

Yes I Am by Norman Grubb
Chapter 40

I learned the speaking of the word of faith as a regular principle of life through my friend Rees Howells. I listened to him in his daily talks on how the men of God in the Bible came to the point of speaking that word of faith. It gradually soaked into me that this was not some occasional, rather exotic way of handling life’s challenges, but the normal one. I saw it in the men of the Bible, and supremely in the life of Jesus Himself. Moses announced the ten plagues to Pharaoh one by one, crossed the Red Sea, got water from the rock, assured the people of daily manna... each by some specific word, such as "Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord which He will show you today; for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace" - when the Israelites were terrified by the chariots of Pharaoh pursuing them. Joshua, when the priests blew the trumpet, commanded the army around Jericho: "Shout, for the Lord hath given you the city"; David declared to Goliath, "This day will the Lord deliver thee into my hand"; Elijah told Ahab, "There shall not be dew nor rain these years but according to my word."

Those great Bible examples could seem out of reach to us ordinary twentieth-century folk. But I observed Rees Howells at his Bible College put faith into present-day action. And I have since seen multitudes of instances of this during my years in the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade.

I had, as a young man, joined C. T. Studd in the heart of Africa, after my army years in World War I and a time at Cambridge. I had been attracted by his new venture, then called the Heart of Africa Mission, because it was founded on the principle that God alone would be the supplier of all needs... according to His promises, with no appeals made to man, and no needs mentioned except to God. The Crusade has remained wholly faithful to this principle these sixty-eight years of its existence. Pauline and I lived like this with C. T. Studd and our fellow workers in the Belgian Congo, and experienced God’s faithfulness.

Meanwhile, back in Britain I had become a close friend of Rees Howells, and the first link between us was his sense of oneness in spirit with C. T. Studd, whom he had never met. From Rees Howells I learned not just an almost unnoticed walk of faith regarding the daily supplies coming from God, but a principle of faith to be definitely applied to every challenging circumstance of life, the way Jesus plainly acted in meeting every variety of need.

My Waterloo came when C. T. Studd in the heart of Africa was "glorified" (the way we always speak of the "death" of God’s servants), going to the Lord in 1931 with "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" as his last words. He had commissioned Pauline and me to return to the home base in England and carry on the Crusade with the thirty-five workers in the Congo, and just we two at home. That first month at home we received $500 for those workers for a month! And it was precisely then, at the bottom of a dry well, as it were, that I looked up to the glimmer of light at the top and was challenged to put into practice on my own what I had learned from others.

I am writing this not from any special interest in the incident, but because it illustrates what we are talking about how to use the word of faith. The way we then did it is the way I and so many others still do it today. Not one iota of difference. That is why I mention it in detail: as an example of practicing the faith way as the only way - the only workable way - of living, applicable to every detail of our lives. For though learned, perhaps, in a crisis, it is then to be practiced in all our daily situations.

There were four of us together one day at the house which was our London headquarters in 1931. There was Pauline and I, one missionary recruit, and one missionary on furlough. What did we do? First we faced our negatives. Things were at the collapsing point: Trouble had arisen and many had left us. The Depression had hit and money was practically nonexistent. We had plenty of advice to "give up" - close the small mission, or offer it to others. (This situation was of the same kind that we are all confronted with at times, with pressing, even disastrous negatives: What shall I do about this mountain, this hopeless situation, this impossible person?)

Well, I had learned the first step from Rees Howells. Not calling on God and asking Him for deliverance; nor listening to man - but listening to God. In other words, not what we think about it, but what has He to say to us about it. "What’s up, God?" This is revolutionary (and has remained so) because it reverses prayer. It is not we talking to Him and bringing Him our needs, but giving Him the chance to talk to us.

For us at that time it certainly was the difference between collapse and continuing. We listened. But how does God talk to us, or we hear His voice? We have already gone into that: by knowing our inner spirit-union, then catching on to what comes to our minds as what He is saying to us. On that occasion, a thought came to us fully suitable to our special calling. We remembered that our founder, when he first went alone as a pioneer to the heart of Africa, wrote that God had spoken to him on board ship "in strange fashion" and said to him, "This journey is not only for the heart of Africa but for the whole unevangelized world." He had added, when he wrote this home to his wife, "To human reason it sounds ridiculous, but faith laughs at impossibilities and cries, ‘It shall be done!’"

Well, that was certainly absurd to us. Our thirty-five in the Congo were almost at starving level, and here God was coming back to us through our founder and saying, "Not only for the heart of Africa but for the whole unevangelized world." But we knew it was the word of the Lord in all this impossibility, and we accepted it. For C. T. Studd had said specifically: "Faith laughs at impossibilities," and this was where he and Rees Howells talked the same language - faith!

So the next thought that came to us - His mind in our mind (We were not doing any official praying, not on our knees. We were sitting talking, and this was our prayer!) - was, What does "faith" mean when it comes to a matter not of theory but of action? That led us to the Bible, which was always our foundation - the Bible interpreted to us by the Spirit. It seemed practical to us to turn to the experience of Joshua, for he was Moses’ successor… and in a minute way we were successors to our Moses, C. T. Studd. So we read Joshua chapter one, and that was where God’s mind speaking through our minds put us right into focus, put us right along the lines Rees Howells had always talked about and showed us in his own life. We read how God spoke to Joshua and told him to pick up the torch that Moses had laid down and go forward into the promised land, crossing the Jordan River.

Well, that was still theory to us. Exhortation wasn’t what we needed. It was how to get into action. So we read further. That interview with God closed with verse 9. Then the paragraph mark: change of subject. And here was our key illumination - a lifelong one to me. We read that Joshua called together the officers of his army and told them to make practical preparations - commissariat, food, etc. - for Joshua said, "Within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan." That was what struck us. By what authority did Joshua name "three days" and then say with total confidence that they would then cross the flooded river? God had not said that to him.

.....calling on God as though at a distance and He not too willing to help 

 Then we saw. We got into focus how Joshua and all such men spoke their words of faith. They named their needs. They, not God. "What things soever ye desire." This was the secret. The hidden key. This life is not to be we men pathetically depending on God, calling on God as though at a distance and not too willing to help. It is God’s marvelous plan of entrusting Himself to man, joining Himself to man as man. It is man speaking as God. It is union in action, just like with Moses, Elijah, and the rest. It was Joshua who, as a military commander, calculated the days needed for preparation and then fixed a timetable by the word of faith. He had got it! He understood that God had entrusted His own plans and the power for their fulfillment to His anointed agents - which we all are. You define what you need and how much you need. Then you say so. That’s all. You say it is coming. That it is there already in your sight. "Within three days ye shall pass over."

It is always our speaking our word of faith which puts a person into action. But this is not human action. It is God-action, Spirit-action, and the river will dry up and the people cross. So we see that all hangs on this spoken word of faith, and that’s all; because it really is God the Father speaking His word by His son or daughter, through whom the Spirit then moves into manifestation. Do we see this?

We did that morning. We sat together and spoke that word. We calculated our "three days" to be that God would start sending new recruits, the first of a great army, to fill gaps in the Congo as well as going to other lands. (We took no note of the needs of the existing workers, for we knew that was God’s normal business.) We named "ten," and that as the first token of a world-wide advance to begin in the Congo. They would come in a year, by the first anniversary of C. T.’s glorification. We said it, named the number, and the day - July 16, 1932 - and used that scripture we have already quoted in Mark 11:24. We believed we had received, as it says.

Next day as we gathered, one of us asked the Lord to remember and send the ten. The Spirit rebuked us. Do you ask for what you’ve got? If you got it yesterday, shouldn’t you give thanks? So for the rest of that year - no man knowing what was happening - we thanked, watched, and often laughed, as the ten came: called (with Bible-school training), financed, and commissioned to the Congo where they all went. The last one, Ivor Davies, was given the name Kumi in Africa, which means "ten." The last £200 needed for his passage there came three days before the anniversary. We were in Belfast, in a prayer conference which began five days before, watching each mail, and the telegram came from Pauline in London: "200 pounds for the ten, Hallelujah." We heard later that it had come from two old ladies whom we had never met. So thank God for old ladies!

The next year we moved on to fifteen, the next twenty-five, the next fifty, the next seventy-five - and they came. There would be no point in giving further details, for we are looking at principles. But I thank God that the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade, coupled with the Christian Literature Crusade (which was born out of it), together have some 1500 workers, establishing the gospel in over forty fields. Thank God, today thousands around the world have confessed Christ and are themselves now forming national churches, spreading the gospel witness. The whole company of Crusaders are still living with enthusiasm on the promises of God, applying these same principles of faith to all kinds of advances. Millions of dollars now come in annually... when it was but five thousand that first year. I do not mean to disregard the fact that there have been failures en route. And trials. For some there has been the glory of martyrdom, as they have laid down their lives for Christ. There are objectives of faith not yet in the visible; but on the whole, we have seen overwhelming evidences of the truth of God’s word-that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

  • Back to the Foreword or 1st post in the series

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