||In the life of seeking Christians, there will be many instances when God, who is faithfully and lovingly jealous of His people (2 Cor. 11:2), will enlighten them concerning someone or something that they cherish above Him. The Lord Jesus desires that His believers love Him first and best (Rev. 2:4); therefore, time and time again, He will gently require of them a renewed consecration of all the persons and things they treasure. Watchman Nee, a greatly used servant of the Lord in China, shared one such experience with his audience in Kulangsu, Fukien, in October 1936. Watchman related a story about himself and his wife ten years before they were actually married, when they knew each other in school. |
One day… I randomly opened the Bible and Psalm 73:25 appeared before my eyes: "Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee." After reading these words I said to myself, "The writer of this psalm can say that, but I cannot." I discovered then that there was something between me and God. About ten years before our marriage, I was [already] in love with her. She was not then saved, and when I spoke with her about the Lord Jesus and tried to persuade her to believe, she laughed at me. I must admit that I did love her, but at the same time I suffered her laughter at the Lord I believed in. I also questioned at that time whether she or the Lord would have first place in my heart. I must say that once young people have fallen in love, they find it very difficult to give up their beloved. I told God of my willingness to give her up, but deep in my heart I was not willing. After reading Psalm 73 again, I said to God, "I cannot say that there is none upon earth that I desire besides Thee, because there is one on earth whom I love." At that instant, the Holy Spirit indicated clearly that there was something between God and me.
I [prayed] to God, asking Him to be patient and impart strength to me until I could give her up. I asked God to postpone dealing with this matter. But God never reasons with people. I considered going to the frontier of desolate Tibet to evangelize and suggested many other enterprises to God, hoping that He might be moved not to raise again the question of giving up the one I loved. But once God's finger has pointed to something, He will not withdraw it. No matter how hard I prayed, I could not get through. I had no enthusiasm for my studies in school, and at the same time I failed to acquire the power of the Holy Spirit, which I was earnestly seeking. I was in great distress. I prayed constantly, hoping that my earnest supplication might change God's mind. Thank the Lord that all along He wanted me to learn to deny myself, to lay aside human love, and love Him with a single heart. Otherwise, I would be a useless Christian in his hand. He cut down my natural life with a sharp knife so that I might learn a lesson which I have never learned before.
||Following two weeks of prayerful confession and repeated spiritual transactions with the Lord, Watchman was finally able to break through this spiritual crisis. He recalls, “Thank the Lord, soon afterwards I was filled with His love, and I was willing to lay my loved one down and loudly declare, 'I will lay her aside! Never will she be mine!' After this declaration I was at long last able to utter the words of Psalm 73:25. On that day I was in the second heaven, if not the third. The world appeared smaller to me, and it was as if I were mounting the clouds and riding the mists…On that day, February 13, 1922, when I laid aside my beloved, my heart was emptied of everything that previously occupied me.” Shortly afterwards, with this experience in mind, Watchman Nee wrote the following hymn. In the sixth stanza he refers to Psalm 73:25, the verse which initially enlightened and convicted him and which later became his boast and testimony.
How vast, immense, and measureless
As believers, we may seemingly commit much to the Lord, yet it is often the case that our deepest emotions, our tenderest, most cherished desires and feelings remain hidden from Him. We may pray to the Lord concerning many things, yet guard from Him the most secret chambers of our heart. Yet the Lord desires our full and complete consecration that He might make His home in each believer's heart (Eph. 3:17). He desires to fill and occupy our inward parts, that He might genuinely be our all in all (Col. 3:11). In this way, Christ gradually grows and increases within us until we are fully conformed to His glorious image (Rom. 8:29).
The love of Christ to me!
How else could such a wretch as I
Be blessed so graciously?
To bring me back unto Himself,
My Lord His all did spend;
So I would gladly bear the cross
And follow to the end.
My all I have forsaken now,
This blessed Christ to gain;
Now life or death is no concern—
What else can me restrain?
My dear ones, wealth, ambition, fame—
What can they offer me?
My gracious Lord for me was poor;
For Him I poor would be.
My precious Savior now I love,
Him only would I please.
For Him all gain a loss becomes,
And comfort holds no ease.
Thou art my comfort, gracious Lord!
I've none in heav'n but Thee.
And who but Thee is there on earth
With whom I love to be?
Though loneliness and trials come,
My griefs I'd rise above,
This only would I ask Thee, Lord;
Surround me with Thy love!
O gracious Lord, I now beseech,
Guide me through every stage;
Stand by and strengthen me to go
Through this dark, evil age.
The world, the flesh, and Satan too,
Do tempt my soul apace;
Without Thy love and strength'ning power
I may Thy name disgrace.
The time, dear Lord, is running short;
From earth my soul set free.
When Thou dost come, I'll sing with joy,
Hallelujah to Thee!
Lee, Witness. Watchman Nee: A Seer of the Divine Revelation in the Present Age. Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry. 1991.