What if it’s not all about us?
For years I have read blogs, articles, books and Bible studies that are all about us . . . about our identity, calling, purpose . . . about how God defines us, names us, sees us, love us.
All important and needed messages for our searching hearts.
But it can also be too much. Too much us.
While visiting my daughter and son-in-law last week—the week of my new grandson’s birth—I started reading a book from the teachings of Nee T’o-sheng, known as Watchman Nee.
Between rocking and cuddling our newborn boy, I’ve been reading Nee’s The Breaking of the Outer Man. The book is from his teaching in 1948 to coworkers in China, just a year before the Cultural Revolution. In 1952 he was imprisoned for his faith and remained in a Communist labor camp until his death in 1972.
The book has been my undoing . . . the start of my own breaking of the “outer (wo)man” in my 60th year of life.
Nee languished in prison for twenty years. His beloved wife was the only one who could visit him during those years and she died a year before his death.
Twenty years in a labor camp—then dying alone there—just for being a follower of Jesus Christ.
We are told that when he died there was no announcement.
No pomp and circumstance . . . at least not here on earth.
His body was cremated in prison before two of his relatives could even get there to view his body.
Nee’s grandniece recounted the time when she received the news of his death:
“In June 1972, we got a notice from the labor farm that my granduncle had passed away. My eldest grandaunt and I rushed to the labor farm. But when we got there, we learned that he had already been cremated. We could only see his ashes. . . . Before his departure, he left a piece of paper under his pillow, which had several lines of big words written in a shaking hand. He wanted to testify to the truth which he had even until his death, with his lifelong experience. That truth is—‘Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of sinners and resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of my belief in Christ. Watchman Nee.’ When the officer of the labor farm showed us this paper, I prayed that the Lord would let me quickly remember it by heart. . . . My granduncle had passed away. He was faithful until death. With a crown stained with blood, he went to be with the Lord. Although Nee did not fulfill his last wish, to come out alive to join his wife, the Lord prepared something even better—they were reunited before the Lord.”
Oh to be like him, never wavering from our love for Jesus no matter the cost. I don’t think we’ll ever fully grasp the impact of Nee T’o-sheng’s earthly life (Nov. 4, 1903–May 30, 1972). Though I don’t agree with everything he’s written, I do know that decades later his testimony has been part of my self-focused, self-loving undoing this early May in 2019 . . . while holding my newborn grandson.
Nee’s life reminds me of the apostle Paul’s heart’s cry:“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2
Will you join me in worshiping Him today as the One who is WORTHY of all of our praise . . .
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!