Stott – faith and waiting

“Be thou there until I bring thee word.”

I came across this sentence in the biography of John Stott. It was in a letter he wrote to someone about his experience of becoming Rector of All Souls Langham Place. I did not recognise the sentence at all – partly because it is the King James translation. It is actually a phrase from Matthew 2:13:

“And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.”

The ESV has: ‘and remain there until I tell you’.

It struck me how Stott had picked up on this snippet and applied it to his own situation as he ‘waited on the Lord’. The letter provides insight into Stott’s early walk of faith.

Here is what Stott wrote in that letter:

“I never dared pray for this. I kept praying that His will might be done, and I kept disbelieving that I might be His will! Often I humbled myself before Him and assured Him I had no personal ambitious wish for the post, and would not be personally disappointed if He passed me by in favour of someone else. But I did earnestly ask that our beloved church might be spared the ordeal of a false apostle. Then came His answer. Emotions of all kinds overwhelmed me. I was honoured and humbled, reassured and frightened, grateful and fearful. Looking back, I can only conclude that the long periods of uncertainty and perplexity through which I passed were allowed for this purpose. I was constantly restrained from leaving…I wondered why He kept me so long in doubt. In my short Christian experience I had grown accustomed to His gracious clarity of guidance. But now I was in darkness! Yet I held on in blind, and sometimes impatient and wavering faith, obeying His ‘Be thou there until I bring thee word’. Then the light broke…Again and again in these last days ‘My grace is sufficient for thee’ have been ringing in my ears. Were it not for this, and for the lovely letters I’ve received I think I should be overwhelmed by the responsibility: as it is, I’m wonderfully at peace. But I do need your prayers. I know you will give them to me…Deliverance from pride in success, and from depression in setback; patience and love, wisdom and vision, humility and moral courage. These and many other graces do I need…”

(John Stott – The Making of a Global Leader, Vol 1, Dudley-Smith, p 250.)

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