Are you willing?

Author: 
Paul Fleming

Paul Fleming

One thing has always amazed me as I have traveled about the United States in missionary meetings. I have talked to thousands of young people about the mission field and countless times I have heard them say, "Well, I am willing to go." It seems strange to me, if there are so many people who are willing, why the Lord doesn't take some of them if He really wants to reach the thousands of heathen folks who are dying without the Gospel. Somehow, there are so many who say they are willing that we must begin to realize if God could only get one-tenth of the "willing" people to actually go, possibly a lot could be done about this great job of reaching men who have never heard the Gospel.

It becomes sort of a comfortable saying – "We are willing." Yes, they are willing, but after a while this begins to sound a little ridiculous. We approach very few things of life in this way. If we are going to go some place, we don't say that we are willing to go. It would sound foolish to stand on your front porch and say that you are willing to go to town. You plan to go, say you're going to go and get there. It seems useless to talk about being willing. However, there is a certain measure of comfort in saying this about God's great job. It makes it appear as though we are waiting on God; and if He wanted to use us, He could. It can also infer at times that we are completely yielded to the Lord and that He could do anything He wanted to with us.

Are we hiding behind a poor excuse? Are we trying to make it look as though we are waiting on God when, in reality, He is waiting on us? Yes, that is exactly the way it looks.

Not long ago, I went with a friend to visit his sister who was in nurses' training. As we sat eating in a Chinese restaurant, I asked the young lady if she had ever thought about giving her life for missionary work.

"No, I hadn't," she replied.

"What would have to happen," I asked, "before you would think seriously about giving your life for missionary work?"

"Well," she replied, "the Lord would have to do something very special, deal with me in an unusual way, before I could feel that missionary work was the job for me." I was curious as to how the Lord had led her into nurse's training, wondering if He had led her in this same special way.

To this question she replied, "No, I thought nurses' training was a good thing to do; so I started in at it."

Finally, I asked her if she was saved and really loved the Lord.

"Certainly," she replied.

"And you also feel that your life is on the altar and that you are willing to do anything that the Lord would want you to do?"

"Yes," she said, "I believe I am willing."

I understood that her nurses' training would soon be finished, so I asked about her plans as to what she would do when she finished.

"Well," she said, "this may seem strange to you, but I am going into farming."

Again I asked her, "Has the Lord dealt with you in a definite way? Has He shown you in some special way that this is what He wants you to do?"

Her reply was the same as before: "No, to be honest with you, I just thought it was a good thing to do."

Then I asked her if it didn't seem rather strange that she could make all these other decisions pertaining to her life without a special leading from the Lord, but when it came to giving her life wholly for the Lord's service – for a job so important to the cause of Christ – she would require a special revelation before she could do anything about it. Then she made the admission that she had never thought of it in that way before, and that she was just living her life the way she thought she ought. Her own desire was more evident than the leading of the Lord.

One night in a young people's meeting I told the above story, and after the meeting a big fellow came up to me and said, "I'm the young man she was going into farming with, but our plans have been changed. I think when she finishes nurses' training she is looking to the mission field."

Is it true that many people think they are willing? If so, we must ask: how willing are they? If they are really willing, wouldn't God move them out to men who are dying without the Gospel? If they are truly yielded, wouldn't He at least move more of them than He has? Or doesn't He care? If we are going to believe God's Word, we know He cares. Let's not place the blame on God. Let's recognize that we have failed to allow Him to do in our lives that which He wants done.

Many of us are selfish, living for ourselves. We are living for the things we like to do. We like to entertain the thought that we're willing to follow Jesus Christ, but the truth of the matter is that it is only with our lips that we are willing. "This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me" (Matthew 15:8). If one-tenth of the people who were willing had given themselves wholly and completely, I believe the job would have been done long ago. Instead of saying we are willing to go, why not say, "Lord, if You are willing, I am going"?

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