Monday, September 23, 2013

It Really Happened

“Something within me cried, “You hypocrite!”
It was 1851, and at 19 years old, Hudson Taylor was preparing to serve in China. He had moved to a poor neighborhood in Kingston upon Hull [England] to be a medical assistant with Dr. Robert Hardey, and began preparing himself for a life of faith and service, devoting himself to the poor and exercising faith that God would provide for his needs.
a half crown from 1845 back cropped1 150x150 Hudson Taylor and the Half Crown Coin
Half Crown coin 1845

One weekend, he found himself possessing only one remaining coin – a half-crown piece. He prayed for God’s provision and for his employer to remember to pay him. He did voluntary gospel work in the various lodging houses in the lowest part of the town.

In the words of Hudson Taylor from the book Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret,
“After concluding my last service about 10 o’clock that night, a poor man asked me to go and pray with his wife, saying that she was dying. I readily agreed, and on the way asked him why he had not sent for the priest, as his accent told me he was an Irishman. He had done so, he said, but the priest refused to come without a payment of 18 pence, which the man did not possess as the family was starving.
Immediately it occurred to my mind that all the money I had in the world was the solitary half-crown, and that was in one coin; moreover, that while the basin of water-gruel I usually took for supper was awaiting me, and there was sufficient in the house for breakfast in the morning, I certainly had nothing for dinner on the coming day.
Somehow or other there was at once a stoppage in the flow of joy in my heart. But instead of reproving myself I began to reprove the poor man, telling him that it was very wrong to have allowed matters to get into such a state as he described, and that he ought to have applied to the relieving officer. His answer was that he had done so, and was told to come at 11 o’clock the next morning, but that he feared his wife might not live through the night.
’Ah,’ thought I, ‘if only I had two shillings and a sixpence instead of this half-crown, how gladly would I give these poor people a shilling!’ But to part with the half-crown was far from my thoughts. I little dreamed that the truth of the matter simply was that I could trust God plus one-and-sixpence, but was not prepared to trust him only, without any money at all in my pocket.
My conductor led me into a court, down which I followed him with some degree of nervousness. I had found myself there before, and at my last visit had been roughly handled. . . . Up a miserable flight of stairs into a wretched room he led me, and oh, what a sight there presented itself! Four or five children stood about, their sunken cheeks and templestelling unmistakably the story of slow starvations, and lying on a wretched pallet was a poor, exhausted mother, with a tiny infant who was only 36 hours old moaning, rather than crying, at her side.
’Ah,’ thought I, ‘if I had two shillings and a sixpence, instead of half-a-crown, how gladly should they have one-and-sixpence of it.’ But still a wretched unbelief prevented me from obeying the impulse to relieve their distress at the cost of all I possessed.
It will scarcely seem strange that I was unable to say much to comfort these poor people. I needed to comfort myself. I began to tell them, however that they must not be cast down; that though their circumstances were very distressing there was a kind a loving father in heaven. But something within me cried, ‘You hypocrite. Telling these unconverted people about a kind and loving father in heaven, and not prepared yourself to trust him without a half-a-crown.
I nearly choked. How gladly would I have compromised with conscience, if I had had a florin and a sixpence! I would have given the florin thankfully and kept the rest. But I was not yet prepared to trust in God alone, without the sixpence.
To talk was impossible under these circumstances, yet strange to say I thought I should have no difficulty in praying. Prayer was a delightful occupation in those days. Time thus spent never seemed wearisome and I knew no lack of words. I seemed to think that all I should have to do would be to kneel down and pray, and that relief would come to them and to myself together.
‘You asked me to come and pray with your wife,’ I said to the man, ‘let us pray.’ And I knelt down.
But no sooner had I opened my lips with, ‘Our father who art in heaven,’ than conscience said within, ‘Dare you mock God? Dare you kneel down and call him ‘father’ with that half-crown in your pocket?’
Such a time of conflict then came upon me as I had never experienced before. How I got through that form of prayer I know not, and whether the words uttered were connected or disconnected. But I arose from my knees in great distress of mind.
The poor father turned to me and said, ‘You see what a terrible state we are in, sir. If you can help us, for God’s sake, do!’
At that moment the word flashed into my mind, ‘Give to him that asketh of thee,’ and in the word of a king there is power.
I put my hand into my pocket and slowly drawing out the half-crown gave it to the man, telling him that it might seem a small matter for me to relieve them, seeing that I was comparatively well off, but that in parting with that coin I was giving him my all; but that what I had been trying to tell them was indeed true, God really was a father and might be trusted. And how the joy came back in full flood tide to my heart! I could say anything and feel it then, and the hindrance to blessing was gone – gone, I trust forever.
Not only was the poor woman’s life saved, but my life as I fully realized had been saved too. It might have been a wreck – would have been, probably, as a Christian life – had not grace at that time conquered and the striving of God’s Spirit been obeyed.
I well remember that night as I went home to my lodgings how my heart was as light as my pocket. The dark, deserted streets resounded with a hymn of praise that I could not restrain. When I took my basin of gruel before retiring, I would not have exchanged it for a prince’s feast. Reminding the Lord as I knelt at my bedside of his own word,
‘he that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord’ [Prov.19:17], 
I asked him not to let my loan be a long one, or I should have no dinner the next day. And with peace within and peace without, I spent a happy, restful night.
Next morning, my plate of porridge remained for breakfast, and before it was finished the postman’s know was heard at the door. I was not in the habit o receiving letters on Monday, as my parents and most of my friends refrained from posting on Saturday, so that I was somewhat surprised when the landlady came in holding a letter or packet in her wet hand covered by her apron. I looked at the letter, but could not make out the handwriting. It was either a strange hand or a feigned one, and the postmark was blurred. Where it came from I could not tell. On opening the envelope I found nothing written within, but inside a sheet of blank paper was folded a pair of kid gloves from which, as I opened them in astonishment, half-a-sovereign fell to the ground.
“Praise the Lord,’ I exclaimed, ‘400 percent for a 12 hours’ investment! How glad the merchants of Hull would be if they could lend their money at such a rate of interest!’ Then and there I determined that a bank that could not break should have my savings or earnings as the case might be, a determination I have not yet learned to regret.”
There is even more to this story in Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret.
Segment in quotations from Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, chapter 4.
Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, Written by Howard and Geraldine Taylor, Revised and Edited by Gwen Hanna, Copyright ©2010 OMF International
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