ACCEPTING THE DEALINGS IN OUR LIFE TO HAVE A RICH HARVEST
To obtain manna does not require our laboring, but to get the produce of the land of Canaan does. While we are enjoying the Lord and receiving Him into us, He often raises up circumstances and allows many things to happen for our good, so that the seed in us can grow and produce something. For example, a sister, whose husband always makes things difficult for her, prays every day, asking the Lord to cause her husband to love Him as much as she does. However, the more she prays, the less he loves the Lord; the more she calls “O Lord, Amen!” and the more she pray-reads, the more her husband is annoyed. Previously, her husband attended two meetings a week; after her calling and pray-reading, her husband would not go even for half a meeting. In a case like this what should you do? Let me tell you that all those things that happen are the Lord’s raising up the north wind to blow upon you (S. S. 4:16). Instead of asking the Lord to change your husband, pray that the Lord will grow in you: “O Lord, make me willing to accept Your dealing. O Lord, subdue me from within. O Lord, cause me to submit myself under Your hand and take the breaking.” Later you will thank and praise the Lord that because you were willing to be dealt with in that way, the life in you grew a little.
You may begin to feel good about dealings such as these when the life in you grows a little today and a little more tomorrow. However, on the third day even your children may take sides with their father and begin to help him to deal with you. What should you do? This is again the blowing of the north wind to deal with you. You have to learn to accept it. Do you know that once you accept the dealing and call on the Lord again, the taste will become so wonderful? Whenever you call on Him, He comes. Then there is a harvest in you. Thus, you have an abundant supply of seeds to sow and of bread to eat. At the same time you can bring the top tenth, the firstfruits, of the produce to the meetings to eat and enjoy with the saints. This eating is your worship. This is what is lacking in Christianity and even in our midst. However, the Lord wants to recover this. Without recovering this, it is difficult for the church to mature, for the bride to be made ready, and for the Lord to return. Therefore, this matter is crucial.
LABORING ON CHRIST AND THE CHURCH LIFE
Brothers and sisters, I have the full assurance that this is what the Lord is recovering today. The Lord is not recovering your small virtue, your small victory, or your small holiness. What the Lord wants is a group of people who enter into His Word and into His eternal plan. This is not a matter of restraining yourself from losing your temper, a matter of being victorious, or a matter of being holy. Rather, it is a matter of touching the Lord in a real way and of allowing Him to grow and mature in you. When you have an abundant harvest, you have enough not only to feed yourself but also for inviting brothers and sisters to eat with you. Moreover, you will have the topmost portion that could be brought to the meetings to offer to God. This is the genuine church life. In the meeting you testify Christ, and I also testify Christ. We all offer Christ before God, and we enjoy Christ together with the brothers and sisters after God has been satisfied. This is the church meeting. This is our worship and the practical living and testimony of the church.
I truly feel that in what we saw formerly concerning the testimony of the church and the church being the expression of Christ, there were more or less some natural elements; we did not thoroughly see these matters of eating and growing. Twenty years ago, when I saw brothers who had good character and proper behavior and who gave good impressions wherever they went, I greatly appreciated them. However, now in retrospect those brothers with good character and proper behavior did not bear any good fruit. On the contrary, some careless and sloppy ones were able to bring people to salvation. The church life, the testimony of the church, is not a matter of behaving well or not behaving well, nor is it a matter of being or not being above reproach. The church life, the testimony of the church, is a matter of eating the Lord as the seed and allowing this seed to grow. Like a farmer, you remove the stones, eliminate the weeds, water the ground, add fertilizer, and apply pesticides so that the Christ in you will gradually grow into a harvest. This is not a matter of being well-behaved or not; it is a matter in a totally different realm. Behaving and not behaving are in the realm of good and evil. What we are speaking about is the realm of Christ. You are full of Christ, and you bring in your topmost portion before God to enjoy with the saints in the meeting. This is our proper meeting today. The emphasis in the meeting is not on singing, praying, praising, speaking in tongues, or functioning; the emphasis is on bringing in the topmost portion of the Christ that you have produced. I bring my portion, and you bring yours. Apart from any forms, we all present our Christ.
(Eating the Lord, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)