Incidents in Travel and Soul Winning – By Elmer & Julia Shelhamer

Chapter 2

God’s First Plan

“God has His best things for the few,

Who dare to stand the test;

He has His second best for those

Who will not have His best.”

It is an overwhelming thought to me that most men are failing to work out God’s first plan in their lives. Yea, the best of men sometimes fail. Perhaps the writer himself is not at his best for God and souls.

On shipboard. we have a chance to study people for seven to seventeen days. We find, as a rule, about two percent who actually desire God. Then of this small number, still a less percent who actually walk with God.

Statistics show that ninety-five percent of all men who go into business fail, or merely exist. Out of the remaining five, three percent make a good living and get ahead a little so as to leave something to their children. But only two percent get to be independently rich, so as to become philanthropists, who gladly and easily help worthy causes. There is about the same ratio on spiritual lines. Most professors of religion are failures and live much of the time under condemnation. Then, a few live the victorious life over the world, the flesh and the devil; but a less number are “more than conquerors”, for after they have conquered the world, the flesh and the devil, they are able and ready to conquer in behalf of other struggling souls; they have more than they need for themselves; they are spiritual millionaires.

What a pity that many are constant intakers but not outputters; they are consumers but not producers; they take it but do not give out in proportion. Years ago I read that a man ought to spend the first twenty-five years of his life taking in. Then the rest of his life should be spent in pouring out. We read,

“If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day: “And the Lords shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”

This is the ideal experience, but, sad to say, few have attained to it. If you doubt this, just listen to your own prayers and the prayers of those around you. Much of the time is spent on self and your family. “Lord, bless me, take care of us; Lord, supply all our needs. Me, me, me!” Oh, that you might get away from taking care of the old self life! I have found by blessed experience that the more I am concerned for others the more God becomes concerned for me and mine. One of the biggest texts in the Bible reads like this, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, and the gospel’s, shall save it.”

We held a blessed “mission” (revival) in Durban, South Africa, for Pastor Watson, a fine holiness Baptist. We were with him once before for four days, but this time for two full weeks. As a result, his own church was greatly revived and many from other churches came and caught the flame. Some of the godly Methodists were delighted to meet a holiness Methodist preacher, for their pastors were modernists and of course gave out no real soul food. I was urged to stay, or return and organize a Free Methodist church. All this sounded well, and could no doubt be made a success.

But was this God’s first plan for me? For a young man with a local vision this might be the best thing, but he would need to stay there and nurse the infant church until it became strong. It might require years, yet would probably succeed and become a strong movement. This is the way most denominations began.

I confess it is a great question just what will bring the most glory to God: Bury oneself for years in order to establish one or more strong local churches; or catch a world-vision and bless souls at large. The danger of the former is to become churchy and self-centered; of the latter, to broaden out so much that there is nothing conserved. A farmer may fertilize too heavily on a small patch of ground, of go to the other extreme and spread, it on so thin that nothing worthwhile is produced.

O Brother, have you caught your vision and are you working out God’s original plan for you? Please do not confer with flesh and blood, or you may mar God’s first thought for you. Paul said, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” Multitudes have done this very thing — they joined the wrong church, chose the wrong companion, invested in the wrong business, labored in the wrong field, or did something else wrong that crippled their usefulness. Thank God there is a sure way; namely, die out to the carnal mind, have a single eye to God’s glory, and then He will become responsible for your future success. `