Spurgeon and the Unseen

In his work, Lectures to My Students, C. H. Spurgeon tells of a story he read from Father Faber. Spurgeon recounts the fictitious tale:
A certain preacher, whose sermons converted men by scores, received a revelation from heaven that not one of the conversions was owing to his talents or eloquence, but all to the prayers of an illiterate lay-brother, who sat on the pulpit steps, pleading all the time for the success of the sermon. It may in the all-revealing day be so with us. We may discover, after having labored long and wearily in preaching , that all the honor belongs to another builder, whose prayers were gold, silver, and precious stones, while our sermonizing, being apart from prayer, were but hay and stubble.
I like this story. It's our tendency is to take the credit for the success we see in the different areas of ministry we take a part in. We see the work we put in and sometimes we see results. Reasonably, we connect the dots between the visible effects and the individual and/or the method that "caused" that effect to occur. With our earthly eyes we heap credit and praise on the physical work we assume made a spiritual difference.

Naturally we get proud when we see increases in numbers, confessions of faith, or upticks in views on our blog. Likewise we get discouraged when we cannot observe any solid measurable outcomes.

It seems God works differently than we do. As Os Guinness writes:
Brilliant and bold though our best thinking and actions may be, the Kingdom of God is quite simply that--God's Kingdom and not ours--so it advances in God's way and not ours.
God works on his own sovereign schedule using his own sovereign means. Rarely are those means the capable, competent, and logical methods we expect. Like the story above, perhaps they are even unseen. It seems God prefers to use laughable weaknesses and overlooked individuals, instead of the supreme strength of mankind. That way no man can boast before God as all He uses will testify: "God is the only one who gets the glory."

It may indeed be on the "all revealing day" that we find the tables are turned upside down, and those noble works we are most proud of in this life are our embarrassments in the next. Perhaps still it may be those works have long forgotten: the persistent prayers, the forgotten conversations, the mundane washing of the dishes--that are our greatest trophies in the end.

Spurgeon Charles. Lectures to my Students. Simon D. Turner. Kindle. location 967.
Guinness, Os. Renaissance. IVP Books. Kindle. page 95.


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