I love books, and I love it when friends share great reads with me. In the past two years, my friend Ellen has passed along some challenging and compelling books. Her most recent loan is Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret, written by Taylor's son. The book is comprised largely of Hudson Taylor's own letters and those of his wives and closest friends.
In case you're not familiar (I wasn't) with his story, Englishman Hudson Taylor lived from 1832-1905 and was one of the first Christians to take the Gospel to China. In fact, at age 21, he sailed to China to begin what would be his life's work and the foundation of China Inland Mission in 1856 (now Overseas Missionary Fellowship).
It's tempting to share glimpses of his life story here, but instead I want to focus on two things that struck me most significantly. First is Hudson Taylor's dependence on God for all provision. He doesn't raise funds or secure donors before he sets off on his journey. He never asks people for financial support. No, instead he learns to give more, live on less, and pray with expectation. And the stories of God's timely provision are incredible.
Second, a chapter entitled "The Exchanged Life" addresses the time Hudson Taylor's spiritual life changes profoundly and permanently. Taylor realizes that all of his striving and longing for personal holiness would lead only to failure and disappointment; instead, God reveals the truth of our oneness with Jesus and that faith can only be strengthened by resting in Jesus.
In a letter to his sister, Taylor wrote, "I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I'll strive no more. For has not He promised to abide with me - never to leave me, never to fail me?...The sweetest part...is the rest which full identification with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest position He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient."
The book goes on to say that Hudson Taylor was never the same after this experience...that he had discovered "the secret of soul-rest."
I confess that this book was a timely read for me for many reason. His story is inspiring, his life's work amazing, and his faith is challenging. If I could pass books along to you via this blog, then this is one I would send your way. Thank you, Ellen, for sending it mine.