Let me close with a story that I think captures it. I might have quoted this before in an episode; I can’t remember. I just love it so much. This is John Paton, the missionary to the New Hebrides in the Pacific in the nineteenth century. It illustrates of how the yoke of Jesus, the word of Jesus, the promise of Jesus, once you put it on, leads you to do some pretty crazy things — such as going to be a missionary among cannibals.
Having served on the island of Tanna, the natives have been mobilized against them. There are hundreds of them even — with muskets and knives. They trying to find him and kill him. He needs to get on a boat and escape quickly. He has one man that he can barely trust who says, “Climb up in that tree, and stay there while they go underneath. I will lead them down this path, and then you can go down that path when they’re gone.” He had no idea whether he could trust this man. He climbs up in the tree. And years later here’s what he describes:
The hours spent there live all before me as if it were but of yesterday. I heard the frequent discharging of muskets, and the yells of the Savages. Yet I sat there among the branches, as safe in the arms of Jesus. Never, in all my sorrows, did my Lord draw nearer to me, and speak more soothingly in my soul, than when the moonlight flickered among those chestnut leaves, and the night air played on my throbbing brow, as I told all my heart to Jesus. Alone, yet not alone! If it be to glorify my God, I will not grudge to spend many nights alone in such a tree, to feel again my Savior’s spiritual presence, to enjoy His consoling fellowship. (Autobiography, 200)
Then he closes by looking us in the eye and saying, “If thus thrown back upon your own soul, alone, all alone, in the midnight, in the bush, in the very embrace of death itself, have you a Friend that will not fail you then?”
I tell you, when I first read that I said, “Jesus, I want that kind of friendship like nothing else.” That’s our question, do we have a Friend that will not fail us at every moment when we feel restless and anxious? He’s right here, saying, “Come to me. I will give you rest.”
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