Give To The One Who Asks
Hudson Taylor found great freedom and lightness of heart once he obeyed the words of Jesus to give to him who asks. At first, out of fear for his own needs, he resisted giving. But once he obeyed, he said that “the joy all came back in full flood tide to my heart.”
It will scarcely seem strange that I was unable to say much to comfort these poor people. I needed comfort myself. I began to tell them, however, that they must not be cast down. Though their circumstances were very distressing, there was a kind and loving Father in heaven. But something within me said, “You hypocrite! Telling these unconverted people about a kind and loving Father in heaven and not prepared to trust Him yourself without a half-crown!” I was nearly choked. How gladly would I have compromised with my conscience if I had a florin (gold coin) and a sixpence! I would have given the florin thankfully and kept the rest, but I was not yet prepared to trust in God alone without the sixpence.
To talk was impossible under these circumstances. Yet, strange to say, I thought I should have no difficulty in praying. Prayer was a delightful occupation to me in those days. Time thus spent never seemed wearisome, and I knew nothing of lack of words. I seemed to think that all I should have to do would be to kneel down and engage in prayer, and relief would come to them and me together. “You asked me to come and pray with your wife,” I said to the man, “so let us pray.” And I knelt down. But scarcely had I opened my lips with “Our Father who art in heaven” than my conscience said, “Dare you mock God? Dare you kneel down and call Him Father with that half-crown in your pocket?” Such a time of conflict came upon me then as I have never experienced before nor since. How I got through that form of prayer I know not, and whether the words uttered were connected or disconnected, I cannot tell, but I arose from my knees in great distress of mind.
The poor father turned to me and said, “You see what a terrible state we are in, sir; if you can help us, for God’s sake do!”
Just then the word flashed into my mind, Give to him that asketh thee, and in the word of a King, there is power. I put my hand into my pocket and, slowly drawing forth the half-crown, gave it to the man. I told him that it might seem a small matter for me to relieve them, seeing that I was comparatively well off, but that in parting with that coin, I was giving him my all. What I had been trying to tell him was indeed true—God really was a Father and might be trusted. The joy all came back in full flood tide to my heart; I could say anything and feel it then, and the hindrance to blessing was gone—gone, I trust, forever.
Not only was the poor woman’s life saved, but I realized that my life was saved too. It might have been a wreck—would have been a wreck probably, as a Christian life—had not grace at that time conquered, and the striving of God’s Spirit been obeyed. I well remember how that night, as I went home to my lodgings, my heart was as light as my pocket. The lonely, deserted streets resounded with a hymn of praise, which I could not restrain. When I took my basin of gruel before retiring, I would not have exchanged it for a prince’s feast. I reminded the Lord as I knelt at my bedside of His own Word: He who giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord. I asked Him not to let my loan be a long one, or I should have no dinner the next day; and with peace within and peace without, I spent a happy, restful night.
Next morning for breakfast, my plate of porridge remained, and before it was consumed, I heard the postman’s knock at the door. I was not in the habit of receiving letters on Monday, as my parents and most of my friends refrained from posting on Saturday. So I was somewhat surprised when the landlady came in holding a letter or packet in her wet hand covered by her apron. I looked at the letter, but could not make out the handwriting. It was either a strange hand or a feigned one, and the postmark was blurred. Where it came from, I could not tell. On opening the envelope, I found nothing written within, but a pair of kid gloves was folded inside a sheet of blank paper, from which, as I opened them in astonishment, a half-sovereign (gold coin) fell to the ground. “Praise the Lord!” I exclaimed. “Four hundred percent for twelve hours’ investment; that is good interest. How glad the merchants of Hull would be if they could lend their money at such a rate!” I then and there determined that a bank which could not break should have my savings or earnings as the case might be—a determination I have not yet learned to regret.