While snowbound here in Roan Mountain (we’re venturing out today), I’ve been working on several projects and reading a couple of books, one of which has bolstered my faith every evening at bedtime. Though it’s not the best-written book I’ve ever read (anyone writing their memoirs should take a course in doing so), the stories within its pages are fantastic. The book is A Present Help: Standing on the Promises by God, written by Marie Monsen, a Norwegian missionary to China in the early 1900s.
Here is a story that convicted me of my lack of faith and showed me the level of inner peace to which I aspire.
Marie lived in constant danger in China, especially from the gangs of outlaws and rebel soldiers that terrorized the interior in those days. On one occasion she was with three other Norwegian missionaries engaged in a series of Gospel meetings in a certain town. News came that a local militia had been defeated in battle and was heading toward town intent on revenge. They were killing everyone they met. Even women and children in the fields were being shot. The missionaries gathered as many of the local Christians as possible into a house and reminded them of God’s promises, especially 1 Peter 5:7, that God cares for us. As the night wore on, Marie suggested they go to bed and get whatever rest they could, even if sleep was impossible. Marie lay down and repeated the promises of God to herself throughout the night.
Early the next morning, the butt-end of a gun battered on the gate, and Marie ran and opened it to find a solitary solder. She let him in and barred the gate behind him. He was astonished to find a small group of smiling people who invited him to have a cup of tea. “You probably don’t get much time for food, do you?” Marie asked him. The man sighed deeply and said it would be good to sit down for a moment of quietness and have something to eat and drink. He asked who they were and what they were doing in the city, and they told him about the Lord.
Leaving, the soldier said no one else would bother them. The looting soldiers left the town twenty-four hours later, leaving traumatized citizens in their wake. But in that little house, the Christians had focused all their energy of the promises of God and God’s promises had been their zone of peace.
In finishing the story, Marie said something wonderful: “It was unutterably marvelous to experience over and over again the peace Jesus spoke of, which the world cannot give. In the midst of confusion and distress, one found oneself steadied by such wonderful restfulness of mind, that one did not recognize oneself.”[i]
That is the peace to which I aspire.
[i] Marie Monsen, A Present Help: Standing on the Promises of God (Shoals, Indiana: Kinsley Press, 1960), 59-60.