Face the If

One of the books I love is Green Leaf in Drought by Isobel Kuhn since it's one of those books that greatly impacted my life. I first read it in college, 25+ years ago, after Cheryl sent me a copy. (She also gave me several other books by Isobel Kuhn, and they are on my favorite books shelf.)

Green Leaf in Drought is about Arthur and Wilda Matthews, who were missionaries to China. They were the last of the China Inland Mission members to leave Communist China in 1953, after spending 2-3 years caught in the grip of the Red Regime—but this is NOT a book about the regime nor even of China. This little gem is about how Arthur and Wilda's faith flourished while under great pressure. Not just moments of pressure, but 2 ½ years of constant pressure.

Late in 1950, while others were leaving the country, the Matthews went deeper into China so they could reach out to the Mongols. Expecting a welcome and a home to live in, they were hit with immediate disappointment and discomfort. Every time they turned around their circle was downsized until they were confined to the compound and not allowed to minister to even the Chinese church that met at the compound. I'll tell more about them in future posts, but something that is standing out to me is Wilda's struggle with doubt. Was this God's doing, or were they the victims of a mistake?

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She was caught up in the “If only...” game and it was eating at her. That's something many of us can relate to! On Easter Sunday of 1951, Wilda found herself thinking, “If He really lives today, as the song says, why had He allowed this?” As she worked she remembered two tracts she had, “The 'If' in Your Life” by A.B. Simpson and 'Second Causes' by Hudson Taylor.

The glory of God is to come out of the 'if' in your life...Do not be thinking of your 'if.' Make a power out of your 'if' for God...Do you know that a light is to fall on your 'if' some day? Then take in the possibilities and say, 'Nothing has ever come to me, nothing has ever gone from me, that I shall not be better for God by it...' Face the 'if' in your life and say, For this I have Jesus. ~The 'If' In Your Life

The second tract said, “The secret of Hudson Taylor's rest of heart amid such tempests of hate was his refusal to look at second causes...He believed it was with God, and God alone, he to do.”

Wilda accepted that her circumstances were not a mistake, they were directly from God. She held on to this scripture:

You need not fight in this battle;
station yourselves, stand and see
the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.
~2 Chronicles 20:17 (NAS)

In a letter home, Arthur wrote, “These trials of faith are to give us patience, for patience can only be worked as faith goes into the Pressure Chamber. To pull out because the pressure is laid on, and to start fretting would be to lose all the good He has in this for us.”

There have been times in my life that 'if only' had the center stage, and I was miserable. We can not focus on those if's. We need to see that all that comes into our lives is for God's glory to shine through us, and that it comes from His hand—it's not a mistake.

The meaning of all that God does with us—joys and sorrows, light and darkness...is that our wills may be made plastic and flexible. ~Alexander MacLaren

There's more from this little gem of a book, but I'll save it for another day.

This is a repost from October 12, 2008. 


  1. Oh do I EVER need this reminder. It's so easy to get caught up if the if onlys and what ifs. But God is in control.

    1. The IFs kill me, Jo. I've spent hours, days and longer dwelling on them. =[ I needed this too...


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