[This post first appeared at GospelEncounter.wordpress.com]
Below is an excerpt from Daniel Steele’s 1897 book, The Gospel of the Comforter, which I first read a few months ago, but this part stuck with me. For myself, I tend to write my successes in sand, but engrave my failures in stone, remembering them far too often, so I found the account he shares of Dr. Stephen Olin’s perceived failure especially encouraging. Sometimes we see the seeds we’ve planted sprout, but how many seeds have produced fruit that we are not even aware of?
Daniel Steele, pages 232-233:
The power of the Spirit may be in exercise while the preacher is unconscious of it. He may not feel it, though sometimes the speaker is aware that a power outside of him has descended upon him, endowing with spiritual might. To this Spurgeon often gave testimony. But ordinarily the Spirit’s power, like gravitation, magnetism and electricity, is silent and unseen, giving a penetrating energy to the speaker’s words, even when they seem powerless to himself.
Dr. Stephen Olin had a marvellous experience of this sort in his ministry in Charleston, S.C.: Several persons dated their conversion from an evening sermon of which he was so ashamed that he dared not meet any of his hearers, but retired from the church through a back door into a dark graveyard, and with difficulty found his way to his lodgings.
It is to be noted that in God’s chosen order of sequences weakness and power coexist in a wonderful way. “When I am weak, then am I strong.” This is Paul’s testimony, who also declares that God takes weak things to confound the mighty. This paradox disappears when we assert that the weakness is only the human side of strong faith in God. It was a favorite remark of one of God’s modern sons of thunder, that “there are two persons in the universe to whom all things are possible : one is God, and the other is he that believeth.” It has been well said that faith grows strong in the dark. “The Holy Spirit hides Himself in the weak things that God has chosen, that no flesh may glory in his presence.”