She had not said, 'I know Him not' but she had no joy. She was not bitter, but she was frustrated and restless. Her opportunity to witness to the Chinese eyes around them that she did know the Lord and that He was satisfying her drought—had she shown that? If not, wasn't that denying the Lord before man?
Two months later, Wilda's husband, Arthur, came to a similar conclusion. He had been reading Ephesians 5:10 and asked her what she thought was “well-pleasing to the Lord in these our experiences?” As they talked it over, Wilda was able to share with him her Easter lesson:
Not to receive it joyfully was to deny the Lord before men...A few nights later it came to Arthur like a flash: the Son had left Heaven, not submitting to the will of God, but delighting in it. Up to now they had been submitting; rather feverishly submitting...
The Son had left Heaven, not submitting to the will of God, but delighting in it.
In a letter home, Arthur wrote this about all they had learned:
Just to say submission to the will of God did not seem to go deep enough, for we had been trying for a long time to do just that. If you had a servant you would expect submission from him, just as you would from an old bullock with a yoke on its neck. But as sons surely there was something more than that.
...So as we uncovered the earth we could see that our prayers had selfishly centered around the shortening of the days...There was none of the recklessness of faith such as the three friends of Daniel showed. Nor was there the spirit of joyous abandonment which the widow displayed in giving her two mites.
So we came to see that God wanted us to will with Him to stay put; not to desire to run away as quickly as we could persuade Him to let us...The great chords that sounded through our hearts as we touched the Joyously Abandoned keys were really thrilling...
So we are no longer stupid bullocks being driven or dragged unwillingly along a distasteful road; but sons, co-operating wholeheartedly with our Father...
The yoke is LIGHT only as it is TAKEN, and not as it is suffered.
Simple submission is not enough. Delighting in doing God's will, in living out the will of God for your life, is where the great joy is.
I haven't mentioned here all the things the Mathews lived with, and without during their years of waiting to be released from China, but their living conditions were such that the Chinese Christians pitied them. But was there a purpose for all that God asked of this missionary couple? Yes, there was a tremendous purpose! Here's how Isobel Kuhn wrote it:
The message above all others which the Chinese church needed was to see that truth lived out under circumstances equally harrowing as their own.
Arthur and Wilda had longed to serve Him; but humanlike they had put their own interpretation on what service is. They thought it meant preaching with their lips. Amy Carmichael once replied to a Tamil Christian who took this meaning of service: 'God didn't make you all mouth.' The most potent way to preach is by life, by living it. This was the service which the Mathews family were to render to Him.
The message of this chapter has been running through my mind for two weeks, now, and the affect it's had on me is deep.
Being joyously abandoned to God's will is where I want to be.
Italicized parts of this post are direct quotations from Green Leaf in Drought by Isobel Kuhn, chapter 8.
This is a repost from October 2008.