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Quiet Talks On Service by S. D. Gordon

A Secret Life of Prayer.

There are four things in that good-by word. Three are directly spoken, and one is not spoken, but directly implied. First is this, your chief work is to win men. That is directly said. The second is implied -- it is the toughest task you ever undertook. That is implied in this that it will take more power than they have. A power that only He has. A supernatural power. And we all know how true that is. Of all luggage man is the hardest to move. He won't move unless he will. Every man of us that has ever tried to change somebody's else purpose knows how impossible it is unless by the inward pull. You simply cannot without the man's consent. The third thing is this: I have all the power needed. The fourth this: You go.

And the Master meant to tell them, and to tell us, this: that a man should lead a triple life, three lives in one. We sometimes hear of a man leading a double life in a bad sense. In a good sense, every one of us should be living a triple life, three distinct lives in one. The first of these three lives is this: a secret life, lived with Jesus, hidden from the eyes of men. An inner life of closest contact with Him, that the outside folks know nothing about.

Notice again the four statements in that good-by word. Your chief concern is to win men. It is the toughest task you ever undertook: it will take supernatural power. I have all the power you need. Instinctively you feel as though the fourth thing should be, |I will go.| That would seem to be the logical conclusion. |No,| Jesus says, |you go.| Plainly if we are to do something taking supernatural power, and we haven't any such power of ourselves, there must be the closest kind of contact with the source of power. The man who is to go must be in the most intimate contact with the Man who has the powers needed in the going.

And this is simply a law of all life, given to us here by life's greatest Philosopher. The seen depends upon the secret always. The outer keys upon the inner. The life that men see depends wholly upon the life that only the Master sees. David had power to slay the lion and bear in secret, away from the gaze of men, before he had power to slay the giant before the wondering eyes of two nations. The closet becomes the swivel of the street.

In crossing the ocean there are two great dangers to be dreaded and guarded against, aside from the storms that may arise. The greater of these is an abandoned ship. One that through some stress of storm has been left by the sailors in the attempt to save their lives. It is most dangerous because it sends no warning ahead of its presence. In crossing the Atlantic by the more northern routes the other danger is from the icebergs that may be met in the steamer's path. If a fog obscure the lookout the boat is slowed down, and a man kept busy with line and thermometer taking the temperature of the water. The iceberg is kindlier than the derelict, in the chill it sends out. The presence of the danger can so be detected, and measures taken to avoid it.

But the great danger here is not simply in the huge mountain of ice that you see looming up against the sky, great as that is. It is in the unseen ice. Hidden away below is a mountain of ice twice as large and heavy as that seen above the water's surface. The danger lies in the terrific force of a blow from this hidden pile that would crush the strongest steel steamer, as I might crush an egg-shell in my fingers.

We all admire the beauty of the trees that rear their heads, and send out their branches, and make the world so beautiful with their soft green foliage. But have you thought of the twin tree, the unseen tree that belongs to these we see? For every tree that grows up and out with its beauty and fruit there is another. The twin tree goes down and out.

Sometimes, as far as this we see goes up, the other goes down; as far as the branches go out so far do the underneath branches go out, sometimes farther. This unseen tree is ever busy drawing moisture, and food from the soil and sending it, ceaselessly sending it, up to the upper tree. The beauty and fruitfulness above are because of this secret life of the tree.

I remember as a boy going to the bathroom in our home one day to draw some water. But none came. There were a few drops, and some sputtering -- there's very apt to be sputtering when there is nothing else -- but no flow of water. And I wondered why. Soon I found that the main pipe in the street was being fixed, and the water had been cut off at the curb. There was water in the pipe clear from the curbstone up to the spigot, but I could not get it because the reservoir connection under the ground had been turned off.

I have met some people since then that made me think of that. There is a reservoir of water, clear and sweet, with which they have had connection, and are supposed still to have. But when some thirsty body comes up for a bit of refreshment, there's some sputtering, some noise, may be a few stray drops -- but no more. And folks seem thirstier because they were expecting a cool, satisfying drink that never came.

I think I know why it is so. The secret connection with the reservoir has been tampered with. There must be the secret contact with Jesus cultivated habitually if there is to be a sweet, strong outer life. And not cultivated by hothouse methods. Such plants won't stand the chilly air outside the glass-house. Cultivated by natural, simple contact with Jesus, over His Word, habitually, until everything comes under the influence of that secret life.

One day a man was standing on a busy downtown thoroughfare in Cleveland waiting for a car. There was a thick, dirty wire hanging down from the cross arm high up of the wire pole. He happened to stop there. And absorbed in thought, he mechanically put out his hand and took hold of the wire. Instantly a look of intense agony came into his face. His arm, and whole body began twisting and writhing. Then he fell to the ground lifeless. The dirty-looking wire had direct connections with the power-house. It was throbbing with a strong current. It was a |live| wire.

Some men who have seemed quite unattractive in the light of some modern standards have been found on touch to be charged with a life current of tremendous power. And some others, outwardly more attractive, have been found to be as powerless as a dead wire. And some there have been, and are, very winsome and attractive in themselves, and charged with the life current too. The great thing is the secret connections carefully maintained with the source of power.

There must be the closest kind of touch with God if His plan through us for a planet is to carry out. We do not run on the storage battery plan, but on the trolley plan, or the third rail. There must be constant full touch with the feed wire or rail. And that |must| should be spelled in capitals, and printed in red, and triply underscored.

A man must plan for the bit of quiet time daily, preferably in the early morning, alone with Jesus; with the door shut, the Book open, the spirit quiet, the mind alert, the knee bent, the will bent too. If it be resolutely planned for it can be gotten in every life. If not planned for with a bit of red iron in the will, it will surely slip out. And the man will surely slip down.

Here is found the spirit in which a man may live all the day long, wherever his feet may tread, in the fierce competition of trade, or in the deadly enervation of some society circles. Out of such a man shall breathe, all unconsciously to himself, an atmosphere fragrant as a mountain breeze over a field of wild roses. This is the first life Jesus bids us live.

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