Last Monday a dreadful thing happened. “Clean My Mac” is a program that runs a weekly clean up of my Mac and keeps it fast and clean of “junk”. Well, last week it selected around 10 years worth of writing I had produced and I hit delete without reviewing the files. I assumed the program would never do such a thing. Yes, I know I should have backed them all up. Yes, I know about every thought you are having now because I’ve had them and kicked myself numerous times last Monday (literally and figuratively). Don’t ask how I kicked myself. It’s not pretty. Moving on….
Besides all of the technical things I need to do differently and have already begun to do in order to insure such does not happen again due to my failures, there are greater things in play.
1. Comfort does not always come through the Lord just “zapping” one out of the fog but comfort often comes by the words and hands of people in fellowship. As I moped around wondering why the Lord would not just make me feel better about it as I was asking him to do, I later discovered that the Lord uses people who love him as messengers of his grace and means of bringing great comfort. So, don’t neglect fellowship with other believers. Often grace from the Lord comes through other people sent to love on you and you may be the one who needs to show love to one waiting on the Lord’s grace. Know what I mean?
2. Either the Lord is totally done with me and this is the first horrific domino to fall in my great crash or the Lord has given me time to do it better and I have years of service yet to come and time to be a better writer (I’m sure there are other scenarios but I’ll just mention these two).
As I was encouraged on Monday through the means of faithful brothers the Lord reminded me of William Carey, the Father of Modern Missions, and a story of God’s grace to him in the loss of his translation work in India.
William Carey dedicated his life to spreading the gospel in India. Serving as a missionary there from 1793 until his death in 1834, he hoped to translate Scripture into as many Indian languages and dialects as possible.
Carey supervised the creation of India’s first printing press. He established a large print shop in the city of Serampore, where he did his Bible translation. The building was two hundred by fifty feet, and twenty translators worked there in addition to typesetters, compositors, pressmen, binders, and other writers.
On March 11, 1812, Carey was teaching in Calcutta. While he was gone, a fire started in the printing room…. Despite many hours of exhaustive efforts to fight the fire, the building burned to the ground. Just five pieces of equipment were saved.
Carey’s entire library, his completed Sanskrit dictionary, part of his Bengal dictionary, two grammar books, and ten translations of the Bible were lost. Gone also were the type sets for printing fourteen different languages. Vast quantities of English paper, priceless dictionaries, deeds, and account books were all gone.
When Carey returned to Serampore and surveyed the scene, he wept and said,
“In one short evening the labors of years are consumed. How unsearchable are the ways of God. I had lately brought some things to the utmost perfection of which they seemed capable, and contemplated the missionary establishment with perhaps too much self-congratulation. The Lord has laid me low, that I may look more simply to him.”
Although he was heartbroken, he did not take much time to mourn. With great resiliency Carey wrote,
“The loss is heavy, but as traveling a road the second time is usually done with greater ease than the first time, so I trust the work will lose nothing of real value. We are not discouraged; indeed the work is already begun again in every language. We are cast down but not in despair.”
Carey resolved to trust God that from the devastation would come a better press and more scholarly translations. Within a few months Carey had set up shop in a warehouse.
Little did Carey know that the fire would bring him and his work to the attention of people all over Europe and America as well as India. In just fifty days in England and Scotland alone, about ten thousand pounds were raised for rebuilding Carey’s publishing enterprise. So much money was coming in that Andrew Fuller, Carey’s friend and a leader of his mission in England, told his committee when he returned from a fund-raising trip, “We must stop the contributions.”
Many volunteers came to India to help as well. By 1832 Carey’s rebuilt and expanded printing operation had published complete Bibles or portions of the Bible in forty-four languages and dialects!
Now, I’m by no means William Carey, and my small labors have not even begun to reach the magnitude of this, one of my heroes of the faith, but the lesson is the same. He has laid me low that I may look more simply to him. In this I will rejoice.
Romans 8:28 and Psalm 84:11 are battle cries right now. Nothing good will he withhold from me. Nothing. He works for my good in all things. Nothing evil can befall me unless he intends it for my good. This is a reality for all of us who follow Jesus. I’m holding on tight to that, and you know what? It’s all good. I’m all good. My soul is at rest. I’m at peace. Why? Father has me and is doing me good. Praise be to Father, Son and Spirit!
What about you?
1. Are you in need of the Lord’s encouragement? Be with God’s people. Perhaps someone needs you to encourage them. No one is helped in the faith by a swift and well meaning kick in the teeth or critique of their application of their skills. Know what I mean? However, we are to encourage each other. We all need it and we all need to give it. It’s part of fellowship.
2. How have the providences of God been hard and yet good for you? How has he laid you low that you may look more simply to him?