Over the last couple of weeks I had some extended time to devote to reading and studying:

  • In the waiting room while receiving the MOHS procedure for skin cancer on my face (they remove, test, remove more, etc. – takes awhile).
  • A six day camping trip to New Mexico with Rick.

My friend/co-laborer/pastor, Greg Stier, was kind enough to give me a bundle of reading materials to enjoy. The stack included a devotional from Spurgeon, a tiny little book by Bruce Wilkinson, and an old paperback written by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor about their dad, Hudson Taylor.

I started with the tiny book, Secrets of the Vine, by Wilkinson. I quickly learned that the author has some amazing insights regarding my perspective on abiding in Christ. But I was destracted by his writing style to the point of almost giving up on the little thing 2/3 of the way through. So I stopped reading and picked up the paperback about Hudson Taylor.

Before now, I really didn’t know anything about this great man. Greg recommended reading just Chapter 14, but once I started in it gripped me so much I had to go back and read more in the earlier pages. What an amazing and sacrificial life this man (and his family) led!  Yet, he struggled with faith and an abundant life. He tried and toiled to “abide”, but yet couldn’t find the secret. His fundamental believe was that “holiness, practical holiness, was to be gradually attained by a diligent use of the means of grace.” Finally, he began to wonder if “perhaps to make heaven sweeter-God would not give it down here.” He continues to explain that he felt assured that there was in Christ all he needed, but he couldn’t practically figure out how to get it out. As I read, I really resonated with his struggle – something I have never been able to fully understand.

But God gradually revealed it to him. He realized that to strengthen faith one need not strive after faith, but rest on the Faithful One. The sentence jumped off the old, yellowed page maybe as boldly as it did to him as he revealed it. He continues to explain that Christ promises to abide in us, meaning He will never leave us. For all our struggles, He will abide. He will never fail.

As he spoke about the vine and the branches he realized that it was foolish to try to get the fullness out of Christ. We are one with Christ. He cannot be rich and us poor, no more than “your head could well fed while your body starves.”

This statement says it all;

Do not let us consider Him as far off, when God has made us one with Him, members of His very body.

What wonderful truth revealed in this old book through an exact duplication of a personal letter to Hudson Taylor’s sister about his remarkable discovery.

So I picked up Wilkinson’s little book again to give it another shot. I am overlooking my feelings about his writing style and picking up on some great advice regarding the difference between discipline and “pruning.” I am looking forward to thinking and praying and continuing to grow as I learn more and more about Spiritual Secrets.

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