Tolle Lege: David Livingstone

Readability: 1

Length: 376 pgs

Author: Rob Mackenzie

By many standards David Livingstone would be deemed a failure. As a husband he was often away from his wife and never gave her a home. As a father he neglected his children. As a missionary he would see few converts. As an explorer he would never find the source of the Nile. As a doctor he never had an established practice. As a philanthropist he did not end the slave trade in Africa before his death. But God sees not as we see. Livingstone would write:

No mission which has His approbation is entirely unsuccessful. His purposes have been fulfilled if we have been faithful… And many missions which He has sent in the olden time seem bad failures. (I would comment that God’s purposes will be fulfilled even if we are not faithful. I think Livingstone would agree, the nuance being his purposes fulfilled in us.)

Oh what God has wrought from all of Livingstone’s un-successes! How many missionaries have been inspired? How much soil was prepared for a mighty harvest? Without doubt Henry Morton Stanley’s writing of his interview with Livingstone is what ignited the flames of love in Britian that would extinguish the slave trade. God used his tears as the flood to bring forth a great harvest. His zeal has infected me, thus I am thankful to God for this man.

Yes Livingstone had his faults, and he regretted them. If you wish to live without regret do not become a Christian, repentance necessitates it, and Christianity necessitates repentance. Livingstone regretted and repented of his sins, but he regretted none of his earthly sacrifices.

For my own part, I have never ceases to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger now and then with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not to talk, when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left is Father’s throne on high to give Himself for us.

We cannot pay God back, we only fall deeper into debt. The glorious debt of grace, oh to plummet into the red. Father, may such zeal as Livingstone had be graciously put into our hearts for the salvation of men’s souls to Your eternal glory.

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