A friend recently encouraged me to pick up a copy of The Saving Life of Christ by the late Major Ian Thomas.
I have found it to be stacked with such deep, profound spiritual truths, that I am finding myself reading slow to take it all in.
In one chapter, Major Thomas writes about Moses and the access the believer has to all God wants to give us:
“Poor Moses – soldier, scholar, and statesman! Born to be a leader, caring for a handful of sheep, his wife’s husband, with a job on her father’s farm! Hope must have seemed to wither at the roots, when “the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush, and he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed” (Exodus 3:2).
When Moses saw that bush, he was amazed! It was a phenomenon – something that immediately attracted his attention. Here was a bush that burned and burned and burned, and went on burning. As far as he could see, it could burn on for eternity, and he could not help but compare himself with that bush! In his heart he must have said something like this: “I have never seen a bush like that before. I’m not like that bush! Forty years ago I burned myself out in twenty four hours, and I have been a heap of ashes for forty years since. There must be something very unusual about that bush, something very unique! It must be a very wonderful bush!” “And Moses said, I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt” (Exodus 3:3). Aroused within his heart there was a holy curiousity, and he did a very wise thing – he made intelligent inquiry and, in consequence, he made a very wonderful discovery!
So often there is aroused within us a holy curiosity, but it is unmatched by intelligent inquiry, and that is why we do not make the same wonderful discovery!
We are tutored in these days to hero worship. In every walk of life we become “fans,” and that is not less true in the area of Christian activity. There are those in whose lives there is manifestly evident the might unction and power of God. They are transparently genuine. The hand of God is upon them. They speak with an authority that God honors. Lives are transformed. Those spiritually dead are raised to life again. Defeated, helpless, useless, barren Christians are transformed into useful vehicles of divine life. Wherever they go it seems that there is a touch of glory about their path, and we admire them and applaud – but we stand back as though this were to be the monopoly of the few, as though they have a special call upon the grace of God, and as though this were something not for the common run of men. We say in our hearts, “There is a bush that burns! I would like to be a bush like that, but I am just a heap of ashes!” And that is as far as it gets.
You discuss the burning bush with others! You admit that it is an amazing thing, and maybe you invite others to come and look at the phenomenon, but you have resigned yourself to be nothing more than what you are – a heap of ashes! It has never dawned on you that you could be anything different, so you have to make the best of a bad job in your own little desert! You resign yourself to sit on the balcony among the spectators, just to be average, a spiritual nonentity!
This is the attitude that Paul sought above everything else to avoid in those of whom it had been his privilege to lead to the Lord.
To the Philippians, who were tempted to lean upon Paul as their spiritual crutch, as though God had a particular interest in Paul that He did not have in them, Paul said, in so many words, “All that God has given to me, He has given to you! The Lord Jesus Christ who dwells in my humanity is the same Lord Jesus Christ who dwells in your humanity. What I have, you have! What I can be by the grace of God, you can be by the grace of God! Recognize that the illimitable resources that God has vested in me in the person of His own dear Son are the same illimiable resources that He has vested in you!
This is the message of the Bible, that God has chosen the weak and the things that are not to confound the things that are. All that God demands of a man is his availability. What you are is totally irrelevant – nationality-wise, money-wise, education-wise, personality-wise, and any other wise, if only you will recognize the principle that it is God that works in you, to will and to do of His good pleasure.
You read of the lives of men like Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, Dwight L. Moody – men whose lives have made spiritual history. They were simply men who had qulified in the school of failure and despair. They were men who came to the end of themselves and discovered that what they were apart from God was nothing. It is in the school of destitution – the bitter school of self discovery – that you finally graduate into usefulness, when at last you discover the total bankruptcy of what you are apart from what God is!
Judged by purely human standards, you may be highly qualified for Christian service, and yet you go out into the oblivion of spiritual uselessness. It is tragically possible for you to go down in the annals of spiritual history as one of those who did not count either for God or man – and do you know why? Because you never took time to find out the reason why God uses men!
God had something to say to Moses, and I think that it must have been something like this: Do you see that bush over there? That scruffy, scraggy looking thing – that bush would have done! Do you see this beautiful looking bush, so shapely and fine – this bush would have done! For you see, Moses, any old bush will do – any old bush – if only God is in the bush! The trouble with you, Moses, is this: forty years ago, learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, might in word and deed, you admired your own foliage! You thought you were some bush! But you burned yourself out in twenty-four hours, and you have been a heap of ashes for forty years! If this bush that you have admired were depending upon its own substance to sustain the flame, it too would burn itself out in twenty-four hours; it too would be a heap of ashes like you. But it is not the bush that sustains the flame, it is God in the bush; and any old bush will do.
If you are born again, all you need is what you have, and what you have is what He is! He does not [just] give you strength – He is your strength! (pp. 65-70).
You can get a copy of Major Ian Thomas’s book The Saving Life of Christ here.