Reflection: No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets. – Canon Robert Vun

Weekly Reflection (20th July 2020)

A very pleasant morning to you. It is such a privilege to share this short time with you each week. I continue to pray the Lord’s protection, grace and peace be with you each day.

Let us begin with a prayer from the delightful small book “A Diary of Private Prayer” by John Baillie.

Let us pray:

Almighty God, who of Thine infinite wisdom hast ordained that I should live my life within these narrow bounds of time and circumstance, let me now go forth into the world with a brave and trustful heart. It has pleased Thee to withhold from me a perfect knowledge; therefore, deny me not the grace of faith of which I may lay hold of things unseen. Thou hast given me little power to mould things to my own desire; therefore, use Thine own omnipotence to bring Thy desires to pass within me. Thou hast willed it that through labour and pain I should walk the upward way; be Thou then my fellow traveller as I go.  Amen.[1]

The Collect of the Week

Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

Saving God, in Jesus Christ you opened for us a new and living way into your presence: give us pure hearts and constant wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Bible Reading

1 Timothy 4:12-16; 2 Timothy 2:15

12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Devotion  

No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets.

Do you have someone who inspire you in your Christian walk? Lately, I have been thinking about the people who had inspired me and how I can inspire others in turn. I think about how others inspire me and in what ways I can emulate them so that I too can be used by God to bless others.

One of my inspiration comes from a young man who died at the tender age of 25; in a foreign land; and on his own; and on his way to the mission field. He was not even able to finish his journey to the place God was sending him let alone preach the gospel there. But God used him to inspire tens of thousands and no doubt many tens of thousands more to come. Let’s hear his interesting life story so that it might inspire us to be like him too…

On 1st November 1887 William Whiting Borden was born as heir to the Borden Dairy estate. When he graduated from a Chicago high school in 1904, he was already a millionaire. As his graduation present, his parents gave the 16-year-old Borden a trip around the world. As the young man traveled through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, he felt a growing burden for the world’s hurting people. Finally, young William wrote home to say, “I’m going to give my life to prepare for the mission field.”

One friend expressed surprise that he was “throwing himself away as a missionary.” In response, William wrote two words in the back of his Bible: “No reserves.”

Even though William was wealthy, he arrived on the campus of Yale University in 1905 trying to look like just one more freshman. Very quickly, however, Borden’s classmates noticed something unusual about him and it wasn’t his money.

One of them wrote: “He came to college far ahead spiritually than any of us. He had already given his heart in full surrender to Christ and had really done it. We who were his classmates learned to lean on him and find in him a strength that was solid as a rock, just because of his settled purpose and consecration.”[2]

During his college years, William Borden made one entry in his personal journal that defined what his classmates were seeing in him. That entry said simply: “Say ‘no’ to self and ‘yes’ to Jesus every time.”[3]

During his first semester at Yale, Borden started something that would transform campus life. He started a morning prayer time with one of his friends. One by one, others join in too. This small morning prayer group gave birth to a movement that spread across the campus. By the end of his first year, 150 freshmen were meeting for weekly Bible study and prayer. By the time William Borden was a senior, 1,000 of Yale’s 1,300 students were meeting in such groups. Borden made it his habit to take upon himself the most “incorrigible” students that others had forsaken and try to bring them to salvation. [4]

Borden’s outreach ministry was not confined to the Yale campus. He cared about widows and orphans and cripples. He rescued drunks from the streets of New Haven. To rehabilitate them, he founded the Yale Hope Mission. He was often found in the lower parts of the city at night, on the street, in a cheap lodging house or some restaurant to which he had taken a poor hungry fellow to feed him, seeking to lead them to Christ.[5]

Borden’s missionary call narrowed to the Muslim Kansu people in China. Once that goal was in sight, Borden never wavered. He also inspired his classmates to consider missionary service. He presided over the huge student missionary conference held at Yale and served as president of the honor society Phi Beta Kappa.

Upon graduation from Yale, Borden turned down some high paying job offers. In his Bible, he wrote two more words: “No retreats.” William Borden went on to graduate work at Princeton Seminary in New Jersey. When he finished his studies at Princeton, he sailed for China.

Because he was hoping to work with Muslims on 17th December 1912, he sailed for Egypt on the way to China. He stopped in Egypt in order to study Arabic. Three months into his stay Borden contracted spinal meningitis; 19 days later, on 9th April 1913, he was dead.

When news of William Whiting Borden’s death was cabled back to the U.S., the story was carried by nearly every American newspaper. It says, “A wave of sorrow went around the world . . . Borden not only gave (away) his wealth, but himself, in a way so joyous and natural that it (seemed) a privilege rather than a sacrifice”.[6]

Was Borden’s untimely death a waste? Not in God’s plan. Prior to his death, Borden had written two more words in his Bible. Underneath the words “No reserves” and “No retreats,” he had written: “No regrets.”

The Morning Collect

Eternal God and Father, by whose power we are created and by whose love we are redeemed: guide and strengthen us by your Spirit, that we may give ourselves to your service, and live this day in love to one another and to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. May we rekindle the gift of God within us.

Thank you for sharing this time with me. Have a wonderful and blessed week emulating William Borden as he emulated our Lord Jesus Christ. Goodbye and till we meet again here next Monday. God bless you.


[1] John Baillie,  Twentieth Day: Morning “A Diary of Private Prayer” , Oxford University Press 1968.

[2] Taylor, Mrs. Howard. Borden of Yale ’09. Philadelphia: China Inland Mission, 1926, page 90.

[3] Ibid., page 122.

[4] Idid., page 150.

[5] Idid., page 148

[6]Ibid., page ix.

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