Hudson Taylor surrendered himself to God’s will as a young man, and God impressed upon his heart that his life would be spent for China. He began to dedicate his life in preparation for fulfilling this calling.
“The study of Chinese, also, was entered upon with ardor. A grammar of that formidable language would have cost more than twenty dollars and a dictionary at least seventy-five. He could afford neither. But with a copy of the Gospel of Luke in Chinese, by patiently comparing brief verses with their equivalent in English, he found out the meaning of more than six hundred characters. These he learned and made into a dictionary of his own, carrying on at the same time other lines of study.
‘I have begun to get up at five in the morning [he wrote to his sister at school] and find it necessary to go to bed early. I must study if I mean to go to China. I am fully decided to go, and am making every reparation I can. I intend to rub up my Latin, to learn Greek and the rudiments of Hebrew, and get as much general information as possible. I need your prayers.’
“…’having now the twofold object in view [he recalled] of accustoming myself to endure hardness, and of economizing in order to help those among whom I was laboring in the Gospel, I soon found that I could live upon very much less than I has previously thought possible. Butter, milk, and other luxuries I ceased to use, and found that by living mainly on oatmeal and rice, with occasional variations, a very small sum was sufficient for my needs. In this way I had more than two-thirds of my income available for other purposes, and my experience was that the less I spent on myself and the more I gave to others, the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become.’” [i]
The prophet Jeremiah once complained to God about the difficulties in life he experienced. God replied, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” Jeremiah 12:5
God’s purpose in allowing those trying times was to prepare Jeremiah for his ministry in the future. He had to endure these difficulties in order that he might be better prepared for the times ahead.
God’s training program is to discipline us for the purpose he has for us. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:5-11
The words ‘disciple’ and ‘discipline’ find there roots in the same word. To follow Christ as His disciple means that we are called to disciplined living. Disciplined living, like sacrificial living, is a daily choice
The heights of great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night. Wordsworth
[i] Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, Moody Press Chicago, Illinois p. 22-26