Signs of the Times

[From "Christ at the Round Table," by E. Stanley Jones]

The ... interpreter was a Christian tremendously in earnest. He was very anxious that the message should go through with effect and power. He was tense. ... It was not that he was nervous about the question of being able to interpret, for he was a graduate of a university, but he was strained because of his inner spiritual anxiety. And this sense of strain was spoiling everything. There wasn't the sense of quiet faith in God and the message. I felt like stopping the address, unfolding his clenched fists, and stroking bhis overwrought soul into quiet peace and trust, and saying, "Now let's trust God—He will see it through." But I could not, and the meeting was spoiled. I longed to teach him this lesson, for I had been taught it some years before. My whole work was strained. I was so eager that I was overwrought. In a series of evangelistic meetings I was pulling and tugging to get men to decision, but the results were meager. I felt as though I could take a cudgel and beat them into the kingdom of God!

After one of the services I went out and lay down under an apple tree, exhausted. The beautiful Virginia apples were hanging on the tree above me. The Master came to me and seemed to say, "My child, you're tired, aren't you?" "Yes, I replied, "I have a right to be, for I've worked hard." "And you are out of patience, aren't you?" "Yes, I am," I replied, "but I think I have a right to be when they are so dull and unresponsive." "Do you see this tree?" said the Master. "How is it bringing forth fruit? Is it working itself up into a strain and frenzy in order to produce fruit?" "No," I said. "It seems to be just quietly pouring its life through the branches into the apples and they are becoming beautiful and ripe." He quietly replied, "You are in me, as the branch in the vine. Keep the channels open, let my life flow through you into the fruit, and it will be abundant." I arose with a new sense of trust and inward poise and calm. I need worry no more about the results. I would simply keep open the channels for Life to flow. Service was no longer a strain, but a joy. And the fruit was now more abundant, for it was not mine, but his.

February 9, 1929

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