Enlargement through Life’s Challenges

If we would be [spiritually] enlarged we must accept all that God sends us
as His own divinely appointed means of developing and expanding our spiritual life
.

We are so content to abide on the old plane that God has often to compel us to rise to a higher level by bringing us face to face with situations which we cannot meet without greatly enlarged measures of His grace. To use a suggestive figure, He has to send the tidal wave to flood the lowlands where we dwell that we may be compelled to move to the hills beyond; or, to take a more scriptural and beautiful figure, like the mother bird, He has to break up our downy nest and to hurl us into empty space, where we must either learn to use an entirely new and higher method of support or sink into destruction.

Thus He allowed the crisis of His terrible peril to close around Jacob on the night when he bowed at Peniel in supplication, in order to bring him to the place where he could take hold of God as he never would have done; and forth from that narrow pass of peril Jacob came enlarged in his faith and knowledge of God, and in the power of a new and victorious life [Gen. 32:22-32].. He had to suffer Israel to be shut in at the Red Sea that they might be compelled to take hold of God for their supernatural help, or perish [Exodus 13:13]. He had to compel David, by a long and painful discipline of years, to learn the almighty power and faithfulness of his God, and to grow up into the established principles of faith and godliness, which were indispensable for his subsequent and glorious career as the king of Israel [1 Sam. 18:8].

Nothing but the extremities in which Paul was constantly placed could ever have taught him, and taught the church through him, the full meaning of the great promise he so learned to claim, “My grace is sufficient for thee” [2 Cor. 12:9]. And nothing but our trials and perils would ever have led some of us to know Him as we do, to trust Him as we have, and to draw from Him the measures of grace which our very extremities made indispensable. Often He calls us to a work far beyond our natural strength or endowments, but the emergency only throws us upon Him, and we always find Him equal to the need which His wisdom and providence have brought in our way.

It is said that good Mrs. Booth, the great associate leader of the Salvation Army, and perhaps the most gifted Christian woman in England, was led into all her public work by being compelled unexpectedly to face a large congregation and fill an appointment of which she had not dreamed. Two courses were open-one to shrink and evade the unexpected issue, the other to throw herself upon God for larger resources of wisdom, utterance and power. She was astonished at the answer which her Father gave as she went forward in simple confidence, and from that hour she dwelt in the large place of divine sufficiency and worldwide usefulness, into which she had almost been forced.

[“And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life….Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:4-6,17,18).]

Many of us can remember how in the beginning of our Christian work we ventured to accept positions of responsibility for which we felt we were inadequate, but, as we threw ourselves upon God and dared to go forward, His grace was sufficient. When a young minister of twenty-one, and just leaving my theological seminary, I had the choice of two fields of labor-one an extremely easy one, in a delightful town with a refined, affectionate and prosperous church, just large enough to be an ideal field for one who wished to spend a few years in quiet preparation for future usefulness; the other, a large, absorbing city church, with many hundred members, and overwhelming and heavy burdens, which were sure to demand the utmost possible care, labor and responsibility. All my friends, teachers and counsellors advised me to take the easier place. But an impulse, which I now believe to have been, at least indirectly, from God, even though there must have been some human ambition in it, led me to feel that if I took the easier place I should probably rise to meet it and no more, and if I took the harder I should not rest short of all its requirements. I found it even so. My early ministry was developed and the habit of venturing on difficult undertakings was largely established, by the grace of God, through the necessities of this difficult position.

Let us then, beloved, be willing to be [spiritually] enlarged, although it may involve many a sacrifice, many a peril, many a hazardous undertaking.


from The Larger Life, by A.B. Simpson, ch 2, point #3

“A. B. Simpson [1844 – 1919] was born in Canada of Scottish parents. He became a Presbyterian minister and pastored several churches in Ontario. Later he accepted the call to serve as pastor of the Chestnut Street Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. It was there that his life and ministry were completely changed–during a revival meeting he experienced the fullness of the Spirit. He continued in the Presbyterian Church until 1881, when he founded an independent Gospel Tabernacle in New York. There he published The Alliance Weekly and wrote seventy books on Christian living. He organized two missionary societies which later merged to become The Christian and Missionary Alliance.” God especially used in Simpson’s personal “revival” W. E. Boardman book, “The Higher Christian Life.” (Biographical quote from: http://www.cantonbaptist.org/ halloffame)

Title and bracketed Scripture (NKJV) added

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