In 2003 my parents gave me an old book written in 1962 entitled, “Radiant Glory, The Life of Martha Wing Robinson.” Before receiving this book, I had never heard of her. Even though she lived long ago (1874-1936) and her dialogue resonates like Old English, my eyes were glued to the pages of this book. Her words impacted me.
“Ignorance, even dense ignorance, need not stand in the way of service for the Lord. He has made no instrument he cannot use. The spade that digs the foundation of the beautiful temple is as useful in its place as the sculptor’s chisel that carves the stone. But it would be useful only as a spade; the builder would not attempt to do with it the work of a chisel.
Absolute consecration means wholly used for the Lord. Not until one can say, “Use me, Lord, as Thou wilt, where Thou wilt, when Thou wilt,” does he become an instrument of use in the Lord’s hands. “O, to be nothing”—“a broken and emptied vessel for the Master’s use…”
Here lies a difficulty. How few are willing to be nothing. How many say rather, “Lord take me. Do with me some great work,” and add, it is to be feared, perhaps unconsciously, “and let all men see my greatness by my work.”
Not until we are willing to do what He tells us, to stay where He puts us, can we be of use. Not until we are glad to be little in His service, can we be much. Not that we should be satisfied to give little when we have much. Not that we should be “nothing” in His service and much to the world. We should give all to His service, place ourselves in His hand. He alone can decide whether He needs us most in a small field or a large one. There are so few large fields; there are so many small ones.
I was reading the other day that in this Spanish [American] War there were hundreds of applications for official positions to every one position. So it is in God’s works: he needs privates in His army who are to do the inglorious work. It is a [poor] reflection upon His goodness and His wisdom to say, “There is nothing I can do. I am ignorant. I have no talent. There is no use of my trying to be of service.”
God did not put you into the world to be a stumbling-block. He made nothing He could not use. Christ’s own disciples were ignorant fisherman. God has made more common people than uncommon ones, more average intellects than brilliant ones, more dull people than geniuses. There is but one conclusion to draw, therefore, and that is, He has more use for the commonplace person.
One thing is absolutely without question. There is work for each one to do, a place for each one to fill. No one but God knows how wide the place may become before the work is finished, but this is certain, the field will not widen until the waste places already given are utilized. If you cannot care for a few square feet, you cannot get an acre; if you cannot cultivate a small field, God will not give you a large one.
But says one, “I am not wishing to cultivate a large field. I am perfectly willing to cultivate a few square feet all my life, but I am not sure I am capable to do even that.” Yet what right have you to doubt? Be assured you are capable of cultivating exactly what the Lord has given you. You are capable, and if you do not do it, it is because you will not.
But in reference to a previous remark, why are you willing to cultivate “a few feet”? Is it because you are humble, or because you are lazy—too lazy to take a large field? Are you satisfied to do less than the Lord needs of you? Are you satisfied to cultivate a small field, when God has planned to give you a large one?
One’s duty is to do well [with] the little. Cultivate and recultivate, dig and sow, plan and pray. Use every opportunity, every moment, every bit of strength, and then if God wills, the larger field will open. If He does not will, then at least what you have all along desired is yours, a well-cultivated bit of ground. You have sown and the harvest is ready for the Master. You have done with your might what your hand found to do. If He wills to give a larger field (which He will not until you are ready), then all your experience goes to help you in your broader work.
No matter how small, how plain, how insignificant one’s task is, God knows all about it. And He knows as well when the task is neglected. The little thing undone shows as clearly as if it were a great thing. The little life ill-spent is as sad a sight to God as the great life ill-spent. And there is another thought—No life, no matter how insignificant, can be without influence.”
The book states, “Converted from near atheism just before the turn of the century, Martha Wing Robinson immediately consecrated herself to a life of prayer, bible study and implicit obedience to the will of God. At the time of her conversion, she was a hopeless invalid, but during the course of her seeking God, she was made every whit whole and entered upon a life of active Christian service.”