Read His Words Before Ours!
There are moments distinctly marked because they shape and direct who you become. Then there are moments, hidden and minuscule, that they can almost be forgotten, but they create your path just as much as those grand moments.
When I was a young teenager reading about millions of Chinese people who didn’t know Christ, a marker went up in my heart and my mind. It shifted the direction of my heart.
Another defining moment was when I surrendered to the call to missions when I was 18. The revival was special, and I can still remember the sweet hymns of praise we sang that night, because the call is what defined me. The Lord’s tender voice told me that England wouldn’t be home forever. There was another marker, another shift of my heart.
But the minuscule moments come quietly and sometimes they are longer than a moment. Sometimes they are several months or several years. Working as a parlor maid for four years never felt grand or special, but I can see now that it shaped me and helped me learn how to serve with an understanding of hospitality. Attending missionary school was supposed to be a grand moment, but it turned into months of little lessons before something grand happened. I wasn’t allowed to become a missionary in China. I can hear his voice still, “Miss Aylward, we have no doubt the Lord has called you to serve, but it wasn’t to China, you’ll never be able to learn the language.” That moment gave me determination, fanning the fire in my belly. I knew I was called to China.
I am quite the sight right now, a young English woman traveling on a mule through Chinese mountains. If I had been told two years ago that this is where I would be, I would have guffawed.
Yet, here I am. I should arrive in Yangchen in just a few hours, where I will meet Mrs. Lawson, the missionary I will study under. Together we will share the gospel with all who will listen in this small Chinese village.
I’ve waited twelve years for this moment!
Many times I knew what it must have felt like to be an Israelite waiting in the desert those 40 years. Or even how Sarah and Abraham felt, waiting on the Lord’s promise of abundant generations when they had no children of their own.
I had the Lord’s promise. I had His calling. I had His great love and my small faith. That was all.
In waiting, the Lord grew my patience. He knew I’d need it for this journey to China, as it has taken many more weeks than I’d planned.
In waiting, the Lord grew my knowledge. While the China Inland Missionary Center told me I wasn’t good enough or a fast enough learner, God placed me as a parlor maid in a home with a marvelous library where I could read as many books as I wanted.
In waiting, the Lord grew my patience. It hasn’t been easy, and many days I wondered if this day would ever come, or if the Lord even spoke to me at all. But here I am.
I waited on the Lord.
Jesus Himself waited nearly 30 years before His work began. He may have felt ready, but God knew others weren’t. I supposed while God was working on my heart, He was also working in the souls of the Chinese people I will meet soon.
I think I see it! That must be the village up ahead! I wish I understood more of what that man was saying, but he must be showing me where Mrs. Lawson is. Just over that little hill?
This is it.
I am here!
And this – this is another marker. A defining moment. My first glimpse of my new home!
Gladys Aylward lived from 1902 to 1970. At the age of 18, she was called to be a missionary to a place she had been drawn to for years…China. However, Gladys didn’t move to China until she was around 30. She heard of Jennie Lawson, a missionary in her 70’s, and found a way to get there. Gladys spent months saving money for a train ticket from England to China and eventually reached hundreds of people for Jesus! She opened an inn with Mrs. Lawson, and together they shared the gospel in story-like form every night. These travelers would share the stories with their friends, which spread the gospel all around!
One of Gladys’ most known legacies is walking across China with over one hundred orphans that she cared for while Japan invaded China and offered a reward for Gladys – dead or alive. After 27 days in treacherous conditions, Gladys and the children boarded one of the last trains to freedom. Upon arrival, she was incredibly ill and fell into a coma for several weeks. She eventually moved back to England for a few years, but knew that she was needed in China and served there for the last ten years of her life.
Gladys’ life was marked with incredible faith and heroism, but it didn’t come suddenly. Don’t miss the first part of her life.
The waiting part.
Gladys waited twelve years before she coming to China! I can only imagine the frustration, antsiness, anticipation, and longing that occurred while she waited on the Lord.
Waiting can be so difficult.
Waiting for test results, waiting on a heart to change, waiting for answered prayers, waiting for the next payday, waiting on the end of an incredibly difficult season… waiting on the Lord. But take heart, dear sister, and press on. The Lord fulfilled His calling to Gladys, and we know from her life, and countless examples in the Bible, that His timing was perfect. She needed to be in China exactly when she was. She was there “for such a time as this”. And you are waiting where you are, “for such a time as this.”
Let this season of waiting be a marker in your life by drawing closer to the Lord and letting Him grow you during this season.
Curious about Gladys Aylward? click here.
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