In December 1926, I was elected girl class speaker for the Moody Bible Institute graduation exercises. I prayed for a message and took as my theme “The Print of the Nails,” based on Thomas’ words in John 20:25: “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (KJV).
The heathen around us have not much respect for ordinary Christianity. Today, the unbelieving world seems to say to the Christian church, “If it costs you nothing, what proof have you that it has any value?” But when they see in any life the print of the nails, they are challenged, and like Thomas of old, if they can be made to see Him at that moment, they will fall down and cry, “My Lord and my God!”
The valedictory messages had to be written out, checked for doctrine and grammar, and memorized by the speakers. I felt hampered reciting a memorized text. But I fell in line, as I had tried to do throughout my school days.
Beloved of The Lord
On the day of graduation, I went forward and faced that big audience. I did not feel as nervous as I expected to, and started in easily, but as I proceeded, I felt the message was not going into the hearts of the audience.
In my anxiety to give it the meaning it had for me, I forgot how the next paragraph started. It was for only a second, but to me it was a catastrophe.
I got through the message, went to my seat, hung my head, and waited until the end of the program when I would be free to dash for my room. Once up there, I fell on my knees in an agony of humiliation and failure.
Suddenly the Lord was there in the room. I felt His love folding me around. “Never mind, dear,” He was saying. “Failure or success, it is all over now, and My love is just the same.”
“The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders” (Deut. 33:12).
The words came to me as if spoken, and the tenderness that engulfed me was as the balm of Gilead to my agonized soul. Slowly I relaxed, rested on Him and drank deeply of His love. It was a wonderful experience, and I was lifted up in spirit so that I no longer cared about any personal humiliation. I have never forgotten the outpouring of God’s love upon me that day when I felt such a failure.
A Humble Start
After graduation came candidature at the China Inland Mission (CIM) in Toronto. I was there for some three or four weeks before being called to meet the Council.
That is a formidable occasion and I was nervous, as I am not quick at thinking on my feet. I always do better with preparation and time to consider the best answer. The meeting came and went, and that evening after supper I was called into the sitting room of the Rev. Brownlee, director of the Toronto Mission Home, to hear the verdict.
He said something like this: “The Council was quite satisfied with your answers today, and we in the Home have enjoyed your presence. But the Council asked me to speak to you upon a very serious matter.
“Among your referees there was one who did not recommend you. The reason given was that you are proud, disobedient and likely to be a troublemaker. This person has known you for some years, and the Council felt they could not ignore the criticism.”
“Who was it?” I asked, dumbfounded.
“The CIM does not betray the confidence of referees. We write to those who have had business associations with you as well as the referees you yourself give—and we promise to keep all reports in confidence. I cannot tell you the name, but I would like to discuss with you what havoc such characteristics can cause on the field.” At the end of an hour of earnest exhortation, he pronounced the verdict: “The Council decided to accept you conditionally. There is an anti-foreign uprising in China just now, which is very serious, and we dare not send out any new candidates. That will be our public statement on this matter.
“During your waiting period, the Vancouver Council will be watching to see if any of these characteristics show themselves. If you prove that you have conquered them, you will then be accepted fully, and sent out with the first party that goes.”
His face was sad. I felt sorry for him, even with the misery that was numbing my own heart. This was the third time the adjective “proud” had been attached to me.
Months before a close family friend had read me an anxious lecture on the subject, to my extreme surprise, for pride was one of the human frailties of which I felt I was not guilty. I had brushed this aside.