Today I read a book called The Heavenly Man that is about the life of a persecuted pastor from China. I am not a reader, but last night God placed the strong conviction on my heart to read this book and to read it all today. I obeyed and have been challenged in so many ways.
In the preface of the book, Oswald Chambers is quoted as saying, “If you give God the right to yourself, he will make a holy experiment out of you. God’s experiments always succeed.” For some time now I have felt the voice of God calling relentlessly to my heart to be fully and completely committed to this time of training and growth in my life, as His calling very soon will require unrelenting faithfulness. He has shown me that there are depths to our relationship that He longs to reach with me. I have been dragging my feet. I liked the mediocre Christian life. We so often reward ourselves in our minds for the decisions we have made in obedience that unknowingly we stay there, stuck in our pride, patting ourselves on the back.
Maybe it is fear that had kept me there. We seem to always think we have given everything for the sake of Christ, especially as missionaries. Then I read a book like The Heavenly Man and my world is shaken. As much as I think that I have suffered in my life, I cannot fathom being beaten and tortured in prison for years for the cause of Christ. Not only was this man and several other pastors given this cruel treatment, but they rejoiced at being counted worthy of suffering for the cause of Christ. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Is my faith that strong? This is cause for some serious time in prayer.
Reading about how so many faithful Christians wept for desire to only see a Bible made me rethink how I have taken this treasure of owning several for granted. In fact, I felt such shame. How many days do I wake up and reluctantly pick up this amazing book and painstakingly read a chapter and ask myself, “What in the world could God be trying to say to me today?” How many days have I complained because I cannot “feel the presence of God” or that I did not “feel like reading His Word or going to church.” Could I imagine wanting to be with my brothers and sisters in faith so badly that I might face a possible death sentence for going? I wanted to take myself aside and shake some sense into my cold heart. What really matters in this life? Tell me, what really matters in this life?
By the age of 16, the author had already led over 2,000 people to Christ. Say WHAT? I am…almost 25 and how many people have I personally led to Christ? It’s embarrassing, really. I call myself a Christian. I call myself faithful. However, what is this stinking lukewarm faith that I claim to have if it doesn’t cause the lives around me to change every day? This pastor, in every prison and town he went to, affected change for the entire group of people because of His passion and desire to see lives transformed, even when those who beat him ruthlessly commanded him not to speak of these things. And who am I, standing in a corner going back and forth whether or not I should say something in a meeting that might be slightly controversial? And this within a group of Christians. Could I stand before my accuser and say, “I am a heavenly woman. I speak on the authority of Jesus Christ!”?
This author, at the age of 16 prayed for a very long time and with many tears for a Bible. When one was miraculously given him, he diligently studied and memorized entire books in just a few days. This is a habit that he would continue throughout his life when he had access to a Bible. He says in his book, “You can never really know the Scriptures until you’re willing to be changed by them.” At the age of 16 he had a reputation throughout the countryside and was sought out by those in surrounding villages to preach to and teach them. All of this was because of his dedication to prayer and to the Scriptures. What is my reputation? Some might call me nice. Others might call me sweet. However, am I called upon by those hungry for God’s truth to teach them? Am I bold and courageous enough to answer that call should it come to me in an instant? This is the calling of EVERY BELIEVER. Are you ready?
These are just a few of my many many thoughts after reading The Heavenly Man. All this to say, it is a must read for EVERY BELIEVER. Buy it today and ask yourself this question: How deeply am I committed to the Kingdom of God? It is the most important question you will ever ask yourself.