One of my many shortfalls, being member to this human race of ours, is the inability to read without submersing myself into the lives of those I’m reading behind.
This of course can draw some awkward reactions as much of what I read, I share here with you. What I mean is walking in the footsteps of one like Watchman Nee seems very foreign to most of us who live in the culture afforded by America and nations like her.
Reading of those who have literally surrendered everything for the cause of the gospel unveils a very superficial commitment in my own life.
Just who was this man Watchman Nee, anyway? Did he corner the market on a right understanding of Pauline Doctrine? Are all believers called to the reckless abandonment that he chose to see as necessary if he would walk faithfully with his Lord?
As will be true with all of us, Nee’s life was greatly influenced by another. As a young convert, Nee found himself enrolled in a mission camp led by Margaret Barber. This great woman of humility and courage would nourish him in the faith, and instill principles he would employ for the rest of his life.
An example of this patterned influence is recorded when Ms. Barber was stripped of all support due to wrongful accusations against her character. She refused to defend herself and even when it was proven the claims were false, she had already become accustomed to being totally dependent upon God alone for provision, so refused the re-offering of her support, and continued in the mission field without it.
Events in Nee’s life are also recorded where he would strike out on a mission journey with no provisions available, and miraculously, God would always provide. One of his favorite biblical passages was that of Elijah and the ravens. He trusted that if it was God’s will, then He had already made arrangements for His will to come to pass.
As an old man severely abused in a Communist prison cell, Nee would often reflect upon the goodness of his cherished friend and mentor, Ms. Barber. His thoughts of her would bring memories of her words to him, “Stay broken. Remember the cross, To-sheng. You must stay broken.”
If you cannot stand the trials of the cross, you cannot become a useful instrument. It is only the spirit of the lamb that God takes delight in; the gentleness, the humility, and the peace. Your ambition and ability are useless in the sight of God. I have been down this path; it is not a question of right or wrong; it is a question of whether or not one is like the bearer of the cross. Margaret Barber