This “Open Letter” was a printed leaflet, found among Havergal manuscripts and papers.
To the Members of the
Young Women’s Christian Association.
“We believe, and therefore speak.” II Corinthians 4:13.
DEAR sister-workers, may we, prayerfully depending on the Holy Spirit’s teaching, find in these words a stimulus to greater faithfulness to our membership, greater effort for our Master.
WHAT do we believe? “The glorious Gospel of Christ.” A true belief in this is no light thing. Could we sever it from our hearts, what would be left but a very death in life? However feeble, it is precious faith.
HOW do we believe? What is the practical result for others? We meet with those who have not “like precious faith,” and we are content to speak only of what is nothing worth. Yet each is in the danger from which we have fled, each has the same soul-needs. If we believed that she with whom we are lightly exchanging pleasant or necessary remarks, must perish for ever unless Jesus saves her, should we not “therefore speak?” Let us try to realise. The young friend or stranger at my side, if she does not know Jesus, has no Friend, no Comforter, no share in all my happiness, nothing to fill an aching void within. But more:—This very one, if she does not know Jesus, must be shut out from Him for ever, and endure the unknown terrors of God’s wrath for ever, and ever, and ever. There is but a step between her and death, and this may be her last opportunity to hear of the Saviour’s love. Can I believe these truths, and part from her with smiling nothings, without one word to arouse, to win, to save?
WHAT shall we speak? Say that to God. He will give us words. With our highest skill, we can but draw the bow at a venture, for the mark is hidden. Let us trust in Him Who can and will both give and guide the arrow. An imperceptible pause in conversation is time enough for an unworded prayer, a heart-glance up to Him for the right words, and for those words to be flashed into our minds, in swift and gracious answer. Let our hearts be filled with Christ and His salvation, and out of their abundance our mouths will speak.
WHEN shall we speak? Conscience will tell us. It will tell us, too, that we do not want more opportunities so much as grace to see and to use those which are continually given. Which of us can count lost opportunities? Yet our Master noted each one as it passed. Let not the number be increased this year. It may be that a sense of coldness and sin is heavy upon us, and we hardly dare to speak of truths which have so little power over ourselves. Yet it does not say—“We feel, and therefore speak,” but “We believe.” Could we say that we do not believe? or quietly endure to hear our Saviour’s name and work denied? Even in our suffering we may tell a fellow-sufferer of a cure; and while laying her case before the Great Physician, we shall find that He is nearer than we thought, and that His healing and reviving hand is laid upon ourselves. “The Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends.” “He that watereth shall be watered.”
HOW shall we speak? One who has had long experience among Middle Eastern women lately said:—“If we would do them good, we must love them.” This is the secret of reaching English girls, as well as Syrian maidens; the feather that wings our arrow must be love, and if love be real, it will be seen and felt. It flows spontaneously to some, but how shall we command it for all whom we would reach? Only believe the word—“He died for all.” Realise that Jesus so loved them that He died for them, and you will catch your Master’s spirit, and speak with that winningness which love alone can give.
Let us make a second application of our motto, which yet must come first in practice. If we believe, let us therefore speak much to our God for every one to whom we would speak of Him. Does He anywhere set any limit to expectant prayer except His will? And “He willeth not the death of a sinner.” What unknown blessings we may have lost by restraining prayer! What unknown blessings may be granted us, even this year, only for the asking! Will every one connected with the Association pray especially that God would pour “the spirit of grace and of supplication” upon every Branch and every Member through the coming year? Then how many prayers will be transmuted into praise! Let us look forward, not merely with hope, but expectation; believing that not we alone, and not the angels only, but our beloved Master Himself, will rejoice and be very glad over those for whom we pray. Sooner or later, we who “believe, and therefore speak,” shall see, and therefore sing.
LORD, INCREASE OUR FAITH. LORD, OPEN THOU OUR LIPS.
[Copies on application to MISS E. ROBARTS, Barnet.]