"When I was asked to give my testimony, I doubted whether it would be desirable, and for this reason: we all know what helpfulness there is in a clear-cut testimony of a man who can say: 'There I was. I knelt down and God helped me, and I entered into the better life.' I cannot give such a testimony, but I know what blessing it has often brought to me to read of such testimonies for the strengthening of my own faith. And yet I got this answer from those who urged me to speak: 'Perhaps there are many at Keswick to whom a testimony concerning a life of more struggle and difficulty will be helpful.' If it must be so, I replied, let me tell for the glory of God how He has led me.
Some of you have heard how I press upon you the two stages in the Christian life, and the step from the one to the other. The first ten years of my spiritual life were manifestly spent on the lower stage. I was a minister, I may say, as zealous and as earnest and as happy in my work as anyone, as far as love of the work was concerned. Yet all the time there was a burning in my heart, a dissatisfaction and restlessness inexpressible. What was the reason? Although my justification was as clear as noonday, and I knew the hour in which I received from God the joy of pardon, I had never learned, with all my theology, that obedience was possible.
I remember later in my little room at Bloemfontein how I used to sit and ask, What is the matter? Here I am, knowing that God has justified me in the blood of Christ, but I have no power for service. My thoughts, my words, my actions, my unfaithfulness—everything troubled me. Though all around thought me to be one of the most earnest of men, my life was one of deep dissatisfaction. I struggled and prayed as best I could.
One day I was talking with a missionary. I do not think that he knew much of the power of sanctification himself, and he would have admitted it. When we were talking and he saw my earnestness, he said, 'Brother, remember that when God puts a desire into your heart, He will fulfill it.' That helped me; I thought of it a hundred times. I want to say the same to you who are plunging about and struggling in the quagmire of helplessness and doubt. The desire that God puts into your heart He will fulfill.
If any are saying that God has not a place for them, let them trust God, and wait, and He will help you and show you what is your place. So the Lord led me until in His great mercy I had been eleven or twelve years in Bloemfontein. Then He brought me to another congregation in Worcester about the time when God's Holy Spirit was being poured out in America, Scotland, and Ireland. In 1860, when I had been six months in that congregation, God poured out His Spirit there in connection with my preaching, especially as I was moving about in the country, and a very unspeakable blessing came to me.
The first Dutch edition of my book Abide in Christ was written at that time. I would like you to understand that a minister or a Christian author may often be led to say more than he has experienced. I had not then experienced all that I wrote of. I cannot say that I experience it all perfectly even now.
Well, God helped me, and for seven or eight years I went on, always inquiring and seeking, and always getting. Then about 1870 came the great Holiness Movement. The letters that appeared in The Revival magazine touched my heart, and I was in close fellowship with what took place at Oxford and Brighton. It all helped me.
Perhaps if I were to talk of consecration, I might tell you of a certain evening there in my own study in Cape Town. Yet I cannot say that that was my deliverance, for I was still struggling. Later on my mind became much exercised about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I gave myself to God as perfectly as I could to receive the baptism of the Spirit. Yet there was failure. God forgive it. It was somehow as if I could not get what I wanted. Through all these stumblings God led me, without any very special experience that I can point to. But as I look back, I do believe now that He was giving me more and more of His blessed Spirit, had I but known it better.
I can help you more, perhaps, by speaking, not of any marked experience, but by telling very simply what I think God has given me now, in contrast to the first ten years of my Christian life.
In the first place I have learned to place myself before God every day, as a vessel to be filled with His Holy Spirit. He has filled me with the blessed assurance that He, as the everlasting God, has guaranteed His own work in me. If there is one lesson that I am learning day by day, it is this: that it is God who worketh all in all. Oh, that I could help any brother or sister to realize this!
I was once preaching and a lady came to talk with me. She was a very pious woman and I asked her, 'How are you getting on?'
Her answer was, 'Oh, just the way it always is, sometimes light and sometimes dark.'
'My dear sister, where is that in the Bible?'
She said, 'We have day and night in nature, and just so it is in our souls.'
No, no! In the Bible we read, 'Your sun shall no more go down.' Let me believe that I am God's child, and that the Father in Christ, through the Holy Ghost, has set His love upon me, and that I may abide in His presence, not frequently, but unceasingly. The veil has been rent, the Holiest of all opened. By the grace of my God I have to take up my abode there, and there my God is going to teach me what I never could learn while I dwelt outside. My home is always in the abiding love of the Father in Heaven.
You will ask me, are you satisfied? Have you got all you want? God forbid! With the deepest feeling of my soul I can say I am satisfied with Jesus now. But there is also the consciousness of how much fuller the revelation can be of the exceeding abundance of His grace. Let us never hesitate to say, 'This is only the beginning.' When we are brought into the Holiest of all, we are only beginning to take our right position with the Father.
I will tell you where you probably fail. You have never yet heartily believed that He is working out your salvation. Of course you believe that if a painter undertakes a picture, he must look to every shade and color and every touch upon the canvas. You believe that if a workman makes a table or a bench, he knows how to do his work. But you do not believe that the everlasting God is in the process of working out the image of His Son in you. As any sister here is doing a piece of ornamental or fancy work, following out the pattern in every detail, let her just think: 'Can God not work out in me the purpose of His love?' If that piece of work is to be perfect, every stitch must be in its place. So remember that not one minute of your life should be without God. We often want God to come in at a certain time, say in the morning. Then we are content to live two or three hours on our own, and then He can come in again. No! God must be every moment the Worker in your soul.
May He teach us our own nothingness and transform us into the image of His Son and help us to go out to be a blessing to our fellow men. Let us trust Him and praise Him in the midst of a consciousness of failure and of a remaining tendency to sin. Notwithstanding this, let us believe that our God loves to dwell in us, and let us hope without ceasing in His still more abundant grace."—First quoted in The Christian Magazine August 15, 1895
"Moment by moment, I'm kept in His love;
Moment by moment I've life from above;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
Moment by moment, O Lord I am Thine."
(One of Murray's favorite hymn)
Quoted with permission from Andrew & Emma, a deeply instructive new biography of Andrew Murray by Leona Choy, Golden Morning Publishing, pp 163 – 169