Nineteen years ago the third angel's message was preached in my home town, and I, with several others, accepted it. This was an experience which caused me to rejoice in my Saviour, and many a time I left the horses standing in the furrow and went to the woods to be alone and talk with God. How precious were those seasons of communion! I always came away from the shady spot strengthened to meet the problems confronting me in my home life, for I was the only one in our family who accepted the message.
It was not long after I had accepted the truth until I entered one of our denominational training schools to prepare for service, and before finishing my fourth year at school I was asked to go to the mission field.
When I left home for college, I thought I was going to a place where it would be easy to serve God. But it was not long before I found that even at college it was difficult to find the time and the appropriate place where I could go aside and commune with God. There were lessons to be learned, classes to attend, and work that must be done, if I were to remain in the school, for I had no financial help from home and was obliged to work my way through. Although provision was made for the students to have a quiet period in their rooms each day, there were many interruptions, and I missed my quiet spot in the woods. Finally I came to the conclusion that I was engaged in preparing for the Lord's work, and consequently He would accept my desire for communion with Him in place of the actual deed; yet I could not help but feel that I needed something which I did not have.
When the time came to go to the mission field, my wife and I resolved that as soon as we got into a home of our own, we would establish the family altar and have time for private devotions. When we arrived at our destination, it seemed best to establish our home in two rooms of a house occupied by another family, in the midst of a large city. The family altar was erected, but there seemed no time nor place available for private devotions. The needs of the work in' many lines pressed upon us,— as director and treasurer of the mission, Sabbath school secretary for the union, elder of the local church, trainer of native helpers, etc. Then the church members must be visited in their homes, and they must also be made welcome as they came to visit us, staying for hours just to hear the new missionaries talk (or attempt to talk) the new language, which we were endeavoring to master, in addition to other duties. So crowded was our program that we omitted the time for prayer and meditation, and gave ourselves up to the mechanical features of the mission work. It is true, we said our prayers night and morning, but we did not commune with God. We realized our lack of power, but we concluded that the Lord understood all about the heavy work we must do, and therefore would accept our labor, even though devoid of spiritual power.
We had read a great deal about the revival and the reformation that was needed, and reports in our denominational papers told of the beginning of the revival in different places. We recognized that there was need along this line. We could, in fact, easily distinguish members of our union mission family whom we thought ought to be revived and reformed. But as for ourselves, we did not feel that it applied to us, as our love for the work was deep and strong, and we knew we were willing, if need be, to die for our converts, and we trusted that God would accept our hard work and make it the means of developing perfection of character. How hard these hearts of ours get to be at times, so that the Holy Spirit cannot impress us with our need!
I had been following the Ministerial Reading Course since it was first started, and had received much help from the books year by year, but still I had not been brought to see the need of my own soul. Two years ago the book entitled, " The Crises of the Christ," awakened my poor soul to see its barrenness and need. About the time this book came to us, we had begun to be especially troubled in spirit because we did not see the results from our efforts that we desired to see. The work went hard, hearts seemed like iron, opportunities for reaching the people seemed diminishing. We became discouraged, and thought of asking the committee to arrange for our transfer to another mission field, or return home. We did not see that we ourselves were not right with God, and that the Lord could not trust us with the power of the Holy Spirit while we were depending on our own works for salvation.
When we had finished reading " The Crises of the Christ," there was a crisis on in our own hearts. There dawned upon our minds the fact that we were to blame for our condition. God had done all that it was possible for Him to do; it was for us to take all that God wanted us to take. As my wife and I talked the matter over, we decided that we needed to be rovived and reformed, and that we must begin the reformation at once. We arranged that as soon as we arose in the morning, before doing anything at all, we would take a quiet hour for communion with God — I to go to the office, and my wife to go to the spare room. Here we each began to read, and pray, and meditate on God and His word and work. And I want to say right here, we found that we did not lose any time by this practice. In fact, we seemed to accomplish much more work, and to do it in less time; and we also found time for other things which we thought could not be done.
A Mission Superintendent
(To be continued)