My new experience in Christ's righteousness began about four years ago. It had somehow seemed impossible for me fully to comprehend that my righteousness depended entirely on my acceptance of the Master's life, and not partly on service. Theoretically I believed and taught " Christ our righteousness," but it was not practical in my life. I would not have admitted it even to myself, but deep down in my heart I really . thought that I was making a sacrifice by being in the mission field, and that Christ would credit my account with a little more righteousness because of this. As I see it now, it was practically a commercial conception,— a sort of "Lord, please accept my service, and in return give me your care, your blessings and righteousness."
But one day a change in vision began. I was out on an itinerating trip, away from home for several weeks, making the rounds of the little chapels and stations. On this particular day I was riding, or bumping, my way along on a wheelbarrow. The sun shone bright and hot, and the air was full of dust from the filthy road. I was getting tired of this kind of life,— sometimes in the rain and mud, sometimes under a broiling sun, and always surrounded by filth, stench, and disease, with no privacy and no comforts, and eating food that one never wants to think about. " What's the use, anyway? " I meditated. " All this sacrifice and this life of privation is not making me any better or any more righteous." I felt like giving up.
But after a while there came light into the darkness of my soul. I began to see that in order to be acceptable, " works " must be natural, like a good fruit tree bearing good fruit because by nature it cannot do otherwise. I had been forcing myself to produce the works that are the natural result in the lives of those who have accepted the righteousness of Christ. It was just as impossible for me to make any progress that way as it would be for one to change a worthless fruit tree into a good one by hanging good fruit on the branches. As I more and more realized my unworthy service and unrighteous condition, I was distressed, and cried out almost in the language of Isaiah, " I am undone."
In the days that followed I spent much time in prayer and Bible study. Gradually it was revealed to me what I must do. Through the study and meditation of the experience of Enoch I learned what God wanted of me. You remember the verse, " Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah, three hundred years." I wondered why Enoch waited to walk with God until after the birth of his first son. Then from my relation to and desires for my own boy I discovered the reason. Enoch was just as human as myself, and in his relation to his son he was most pleased when the lad manifested complete confidence in him. Enoch must have then realized that his heavenly Father in like manner longed for man's confidence. And so I said, " Lord, I surrender everything into your hand. Do what you will with me; it matters not where you use me, whether in some obscure place where men may never see nor appreciate my efforts, or before the courts of kings. I trust you, Lord, and believe it the greatest privilege and joy to be associated with you, no matter where that path may lead me."
After taking this attitude, there was real joy in my experience. No longer did I worry and fret when things went contrary to my plan. I left it all in His hand, and felt that He would direct all for the best interest of His cause. Delays are sometimes necessary in order to make contact with some soul that is hungering for the truth, or who is in just the right condition to respond to His word.
I presented this message to the Chinese churches. I changed from stressing the mere doctrinal side of things, and helped our people to have the same confidence in the Godhead,—just to accept the righteousness of Christ, and then show continual confidence in Him by walking in harmony with His word, (as far as they understood it), regardless of consequences. Those who have accepted the Lord in this manner have had no difficulty in accepting the Sabbath, tithe paying, or any of the other doctrines. They accept the righteousness of Christ, and His plan. They trust Him without hesitation, like the priests who bore the ark into the waters of the Jordan and saw the promise fulfilled.
So long as I accept the righteousness of Christ and give Him my complete confidence, this blessed experience will continue to be mine. I still make mistakes, but I do not make them willingly. I long for the time to come when we shall be delivered from the weakness of the flesh and the errors of misjudgment. That day is not far hence, and I am thankful for His forgiving grace now that cleanses me when I make mistakes.
A Missionary on Furlough.