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But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”John 16:33 The Message

Your obstacles are meant to make you over-comers. 

Let me end with this statement. Yes I know we have just started but this statement is very profound to each of us.

Gladys once made this comment to a friend, “I wasn’t God’s first choice for what I’ve done for China. There was somebody else. I don’t know who it was — God’s first choice. It must have been a man — a wonderful man, a well-educated man. I don’t know what happened. Perhaps he died. Perhaps he wasn’t willing. And God looked down and saw Gladys Aylward 

Now let us start keeping in mind this statement.

There were major obstacles in the life of David that could well have prevented David becoming a king. David encountered  a lion, and a bear. Now let us get this into perspective, these are ferocious animals, not domestic pets and they were hungry animals after the sheep David was looking after. Believe me an animal hungry is no domestic pet.

David’s own family were against him ever becoming king to the point they did not even mention him. Finally David encountered a giant  who had put fear into a whole army. Yes trained and experienced (soldiers)  grown men, living daily in fear but David a boy faced this giant (obstacle) with courage and conviction.

David’s deliverance was not in his own ability but in God who he said would deliver him. This word delivered that David used (Heb natsal) means “rescue, save,” the same word used when God delivered His people from danger. Since David had rescued sheep from his father’s flock with the help of God, he could see no difficulty in rescuing Israel, the sheep of God’s flock through the same trust in God. 

I believe God is still able to do that today. What David experienced you can too. As the hymn writer says it is no secret what God can do.

Now let us go back to the first statement and finish with a remarkable story of a woman Gladys Aylward who was born short in size and short in worldly status. That though was not going to be an obstacle for what God had called her to do. The result was what was lacking in height and social standing she made up for in determination and spirit. 

Gladys  worked as a domestic worker (housemaid) from her early teens, but later felt a calling to go overseas as a Christian missionary. She was accepted by the China Inland Mission to study a preliminary three-month course for aspiring missionaries, but was not offered further training due to lack of progress in learning the Chinese language. 

On October the 15th, 1932, she spent her life savings on a train passage to Yangcheng. Gladys set off on the long train journey to the land of her calling. She knew that she had no money to buy food on the way, so packed her suitcase with corned beef, baked beans, fish, crackers, hard- boiled eggs and other items. 

The perilous trip took her across Siberia with the Trans-Siberian Railway. She was detained by the Russians, but managed to evade them with local help and took a lift from a Japanese ship. She travelled across Japan with the help of the British Consul and took another ship to China. 

She experienced mixed emotions on the journey. She felt very much alone, but had an abiding peace that she was doing the will of God. She arrived in China on the 8th of November, During this time Gladys also adopted war orphans and eventually had over 100 children in her care. 

In 1940, the war had escalated and she was forced to leave Northern China and head south to Sian through the thickening battle, over mountains and across the Yellow River. When Gladys climbed over the mountains to Sian, she had 100 children with her that she was taking to a refugee area. 

The journey took 12 days and they left with inadequate clothing or food supplies – but God looked after Gladys and the children throughout the entire journey. 

This experience left her mentally and emotionally drained. After recovery in 1943 she moved to Chengdu to begin work in a local Church as a Bible woman. This work was usually reserved for only Chinese women and involved travel, evangelism and Bible teaching. Gladys had taken on so much of the Chinese culture that it was unquestioned whether she would fit in the role. This was not going to be an obstacle. 

After 20 years in China, Gladys returned to England in 1940. She was embarrassed to find that she quickly became a celebrity. A book, movie and TV documentary were all made about her life. To many Gladys became known by many as “The Small Women,” which is the title of her biography. She continued to travel and speak about her beloved China, returning to Taiwan in 1957 where she died in 1970. 

As we deal with our present day crisis and try to get life back to normal I want to encourage you that obstacles can be overcome whatever obstacle it is you are facing.

Remember the first statement Gladys may not have been first choice but when the call came she answered and became the great overcomer, you can too.

Stay Safe and Blessed

Author Edward Lawrence

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