Going Deeper

Selfless Devotion

Will you respond to Jesus’ invitation to join Him in His selfless mission of love? by Rev. Diane Ury

I love to read biographies about Salvationists. Some are about people still alive, some are about our founders, and of the decades between. Currently, I’m reading a beautiful first edition copy about General William Booth printed in 1912.

I read slowly so that my imagination has time to enter each scene. I’ve actually been to those places in East London. I’ve been to Nottingham. But through books, which contain stories of real people, Jesus invites me to enter with Him into His historical redemptive acts of power and love manifested in ordinary people.

While on an errand together, I told my husband about some stories of William Booth in those earliest days of his calling, and I began to weep. Overwhelmed with joy about the way he lived, I felt much needed encouragement. Sometimes the world we live in seems so messed up, so perverted, so hopeless of true justice and righteousness. Maybe you, like I, can be tempted to despair for our culture, for the church, for our organization. 

But Jesus has reminded me that I am to lift my eyes up to Him alone. In Matthew 16:24-17:18, the disciples are given an accurate view of who Jesus truly is and what His disciples are to be like. They’re overshadowed with a cloud of God’s presence, His voice saying, “This is my Son, with whom I am well-pleased. Listen to Him!” They appropriately fall on their faces to the ground in terror. “And Jesus came to them, touched them, and said, ‘Get up! Don’t be afraid.’ Lifting their eyes they saw no one but Jesus Himself alone.” Next thing they know, they are being led by Jesus into a valley occupied by a demon.

William Booth was nearly starving, eking out survival in abject poverty. He had no fancy education and certainly no human reason for anything but despair. However, in the context of a neighborhood with profound suffering and agony, he attended a struggling church that faithfully preached God’s Word and sang Wesley hymns as a young teenager. The Spirit of God spoke. Booth later described the experience by saying, “[He] created within me a great thirst for new life.” In my imagination I see the Lord seeking someone to stand in the gap (Isaiah 59:16); someone saying, “Aha! A young teenager at church?! There is hope for my world.” 

Jesus reached from heaven and grasped that young, pathetic, ordinary, uneducated young man and took him right into His life. He poured His Spirit into a man who knew suffering and who was burdened with compassion for others who were suffering. Jesus spoke to young Booth, touched him and said, “Get up! Don’t be afraid.” William Booth gave all that he was to the God of holy love. He focused on Jesus alone and became a man filled with the holy love of the Savior of the world, the One who tasted our death and marched into hell, destroying the power of sin, killing hopelessness and death itself. 

Friends, every single one of us is created with a capacity for the life of this God of love. Booth raced into the hell hole of East London because of love. He became the hands, feet and voice of the resurrected Christ for thousands in despair. Booth put self-interest to death and his yielded life became a means for Jesus to change the world. 

Your yielded, ordinary life also can be the embodiment of God’s life of love for desolate people right where you live. Will you respond to Jesus’ invitation to join Him in His selfless mission of love?