Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Great, fatherly advice

By far the best advice I have received this year came from a dead man. I found it in the words of the late Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) to his daughter, Elizabeth, in a letter he wrote to her in 1948. In answer to her questions about how she could know whether or not it was the will of God for her to be an overseas missionary, Dr. Lloyd-Jones had this to say:

The one vital, all-important thing is to know the will of God. It is not as easy as it sometimes sounds. I was for over two years in a state of uncertainty and indecision before leaving medicine for the pulpit. But in the end it was made absolutely and perfectly clear and mainly by means of things which God did.

These are the rules which I would advise you to observe:

1. Never speak to anyone about it. Don’t tell people what you are feeling and discuss it and ask for advice. That always leads to still more uncertainty and confusion. Make an absolute rule of this at all costs. Say nothing until you are absolutely certain, because we are all subject to self suggestion.

2. Do not even think about it and discuss the pros and cons with yourself. Once more this leads to auto suggestion and confusion.

3. In meetings, etc. do not start with the thought in your mind, “I wonder whether this is going to throw light on my question or help in any way?”

4. In other words, you must not try to anticipate God’s leading. Believing as I do that God does “call” very definitely, and in a distinct and definite doctrine of a call, and a vocation is distinct from “the need is the call” idea, I believe that Good will always make His will and His way plain and clear. With reverence, therefore, I say leave it to God entirely as regards purpose, time and all else.

All you have to do is to tell God that you are content to do His will whatever it may be and, more, that you will rejoice to do His will. Surrender yourself, your life, your future entirely to Him and leave it at that… You must not go on asking God to show you His way. Leave it to Him and refuse to consider it until He makes it impossible for you not to do so.

Also remember…that “to be” comes before “to do”. That is where we all fail. Our business is to make ourselves such instruments as shall be fit and meet for the Master’s use. He always tells such people how and where and when He wants to use them. You prepare yourself and He will then show you what He wants you to do.

[Iain H. Murray, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith 1939-1981 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1990), pp. 177-178.]

Over the past few months, I’ve grown to believe that Dr. Lloyd Jones may have been on to something when he said, “Don’t tell people what you are feeling and discuss it and ask for advice”. Sometimes, unfortunately, talking to fellow humans can be a waste of time, because they just can’t understand. Sometimes, only God truly understands. Loneliness is one means by which God can teach us to be totally dependent upon Him. Connected with Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ excellent counsel that “to be” comes before “to do”, I learn that my main business is to spend much time alone with God in prayer, depending upon God’s Spirit as I submit myself to the word of God.

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