ON TAKING HOLD OF GOD.
The last chapter indicated the glory of the impossible and puts the reader face to face with the spiritual elements of the missionary task: forgiveness, love, patience, long-suffering, faith, courage. Whether at Meshed or in the Philippine Islands, whether in Arabia or among the Chinese Moslems, the missionary faces the same call of duty-to transfer their passionate allegiance from Mohammed to Christ. Here human wisdom and strength utterly fail. We are cast back upon God. "My soul wait thou only upon God."
In spite of the tremendous changes, political, social and economic which will doubtless result from the redistribution of races and peoples or reconstruction of empire in the Near East, the intellectual and spiritual forces of Islam may only rally and strengthen their grip on the minds and hearts of its followers. Any reliance on mere political prestige or racial superiority or Western education would be a costly blunder. At a time like this we are forcibly reminded of the words spoken by Jeremiah for all time:
"For he shall be like the heath in the desert and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.
"Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.
"For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit."
The rivers of God do not take their rise in the deserts of diplomacy, but flow from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the spiritual conflict between Christianity and Islam, the true soldier of the Cross must stand in its strength alone. The arm of flesh will fail us; we dare not build our hope on governments, however promising may be their policy and practice. When the Capitulations have all disappeared, will evangelism be helped or hindered? There may be need for outspoken testimony, but the greater need is for out-poured intercession. We must "take hold of God."
No definition of prayer is so bold as that expressed in these words of Isaiah. Here we have at once the pathos of the suppliant, the strength of the martyr's faith and the daring of Hebrew poetry. Prayer, which Gladstone called "the highest exercise of the human intellect" is also the highest exercise of the affections and the will. In our survey of the Moslem world; its neglected areas, its new conditions and the ripening of the harvest
(where the blood of the martyrs has fallen) we will make the best progress on our knees. Conditions in the Moslem world cannot help stirring the emotions; yet the only place where these need never be stifled or suppressed, for fear of man or the censorship, is in the prayer closet. Here we may pour out our hearts, our tears, our agony. Intercessory prayer is the test of the reality and sincerity of our compassion. When we consider the history of Islam-its conditions and progress and the neglect of the Church, the luke-warmness of our love and the feebleness of our efforts - what unoccupied realms there are for confession and humiliation, and of passion for God's glory. He who takes hold of God for the Moslem world, starts divine forces in motion. Such prayer is far-reaching and achieves as much as it costs. The Christian on his knees is a king and priest unto God in His universe and the inner chamber becomes a gymnasium for the soul. The effort to realize God's presence in His world stretches the sinews of our faith and hardens its muscles. We believe because it is impossible. Prayer invigorates the will, purifies it and confers decision on those that waver. It gives energy to the listless, calmness to the fretful, sympathy to the selfish, and largeness of heart to those who are narrow and provincial. Paul calls this part of his life "wrestling." It is a great spiritual conflict in an arena where the weapons are never carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.
The energies of the universe, nay, of God Himself, are at the disposal of those who pray-to the man "who stirreth up himself to take hold of God." Opportunity is a great word; it challenges by its very hopefulness and sense of urgency. Yet opportunity is not the last word in missions nor is it the real measure of obligation. It always carries with it the temptation to opportunism, and this is not good missionary policy. The open door beckons, it is true, but the Closed door challenges Him who has a right to enter. He came when the doors were shut. The kingdoms of this world may have frontiers which must not be Crossed, but the Gospelof Jesus Christ knows no frontier. It never has been kept in bonds or within bounds; its message is expulsive and explosive. It is significant that one of the names of Allah in Islam's rosary is "Al Fattah "-the Great Opener. He opens the lips of the dumb to song, the eyes of the blind to sight, and bursts the prison-house of the captive. He opens doors for utterance and for entrance; He opens graves and gates; He opens the windows of heaven and the bars of death. Because He holds the keys to every situation we must take hold of Him. What He opens no man can shut. Paul'sexperience at Ephesus is that of many workers in Moslem lands. "A great and effectual door has been opened unto me and there are many adversaries." God's grace made the door effectual and the adversaries made it great. The more
baffling the problem seems to us, the easier it is to OMNIPOTENCE. This is the glory of the impossible. Shall we not take hold of God-and let go of all else-for the Moslem world and its redemption?
Call to Prayer
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