Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face; And the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace. —H. Lemmel
The beginning of it all was a quiet hour among his father’s books, when young he sought something to interest him. His mother was away from home and the boy was missing her. The house seemed empty, so he took the story he found to a favorite corner in the old warehouse, thinking he would read it as long as it did not get prosy.
Many miles away, the mother was specially burdened that Saturday afternoon about her only son. Leaving her friends she went alone to plead with God for his salvation. Hour after hour passed while that mother was still upon her knees, until her heart was ﬂooded with a joyful assurance that her prayers were heard and answered.
The boy was reading, meanwhile, the booklet he had picked up, and as the story merged into something more serious he was arrested by the words: “The finished work of Christ.” Who can explain the mystery of the Holy Spirit’s working? Truth long familiar, though neglected, came back to mind and heart.
“Why does the writer use those words?” he questioned. “Why does he not say, ‘the atoning or propitiatory work of Christ’?”
Immediately, IT IS FINISHED shone out as in letters of light.
Finished? What was finished?
“A full and perfect atonement for sin,” his heart replied.
“The debt was paid by the great Substitute. ‘Christ died for our sins,’ and ‘not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.’”
Then come the thought with startling clearness, “If the whole work is finished, the whole debt paid, what is there left for me to do?”
The one, the only answer took possession of his soul: “There was nothing in the world for me to do save to fall upon my knees and accepting this Savior and His salvation to praise Him for evermore.”
Old doubts and fears were gone. The reality of the wonderful experience we call conversion filled him with peace and joy. New life came with that simple acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ, for to “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” And great was the change that new life brought.
Longing to share his new-found joy with his mother, he was the first to welcome her on her return.
“I know, my boy, I know,” she said with her arms about him.
“I have been rejoicing for a fortnight in the glad news you have to tell.”
Another surprise awaited him not long after, when, picking up a notebook he thought was his own, he found an entry in his sister’s writing to the effect that she would give herself daily to prayer until God should answer in the conversion of her only brother.
The young girl had recorded this decision just a month previously.
Brought up in such a circle [Hudson Taylor wrote] and saved under such circumstances, it was perhaps natural that from the very commencement of my Christian life I was led to feel that the promises of the Bible are very real, and that prayer is in sober fact transacting business with God, whether on one’s own behalf or on behalf of those for whom one seeks His blessing.
The brother and sister were now one in a new way, and young though they were, for he was only seventeen, they began to do all they could to win others to Christ. This was the secret of the rapid growth which followed in spiritual things. They entered from the very first into the Lord’s own yearning of heart over the lost and perishing. Not “social service,” but living for others with a supreme concern for their soul’s salvation was the line on which they were led out. And this not with any sense of superiority, but simply from a deep, personal love to the Lord Jesus Christ.
It was that love that as the days went on made it such a keen distress to fail in the old ways and lose the joy of His conscious presence. For there were ups and downs as with most young Christians, and neglect of prayer and of feeding on God’s Word always brings coldness of heart. But the outstanding thing about Hudson Taylor’s early experience was that he could not be satisfied with anything less than the best, God’s best — the real and constant enjoyment of His presence. To go without this was to live without sunlight, to work without power. That he knew the joy of the Lord in those early days is evident from recollections such as the following. A leisure afternoon had brought opportunity for prayer, and moved by deep longings he sought his room to be alone with God.
Well do I remember how in the gladness of my heart I poured out my soul before God. Again and again confessing my grateful love to Him who had done everything for me, who had saved me when I had given up all hope and even desire for salvation, I besought Him to give me some work to do for Him as an outlet for love and gratitude. …
Well do I remember as I put myself, my life, my friends, my all upon the altar, the deep solemnity that came over my soul with the assurance that my offering was accepted. The presence of God became unutterable real and blessed, and I remember … stretching myself on the ground and lying there before Him with unspeakable awe and unspeakable joy. For what service I was accepted I knew not, but a deep consciousness that I was not my own took possession of me which has never since been effaced.
If we think that boys or girls in their teens are too young for such soul-experiences, we are indeed mistaken. At no time in life is there greater capacity for devotion, if the heart’s deepest springs are open to the love of Christ.