“By the world’s standard he was a failure,” wrote Bernie May. “Even worse, he was a fool. ‘What a waste,’ his friends said when he died. ‘He had everything and threw it away’” His name was William Borden, of the wealthy and famed Borden family. His family had made millions in the milk business back at a time when money was scarce.
During his first year at Yale, William Borden heard Samuel Zwemer, a profoundly moving speaker who talked about the great needs of the world of Islam. While Borden could have rationalized that by using his vast wealth, he could make a lasting contribution to the task of world missions, he decided that nothing would substitute for the gift of himself.
His goals in life changed. His values changed. He changed; and evidence of that was the fact that he gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to various Christian organizations. Then he set out with singleness of heart and mind to serve God. Depriving himself of even owning an automobile, which he described as “an unjustifiable luxury,” he rode a bicycle so that none might accuse him of being better than they.
His goal was to reach the Muslim Kansu people of China, but he never got there. Detouring by way of Egypt so that he might learn Arabic, he met death only four months after his arrival. When spinal meningitis struck, this idealistic young man with such great promise was felled by the grim reaper and took his place among the truly great.
Borden is not alone in being thought foolish. Another young man whose name is written in the blood of martyrdom, Jim Elliot, wrote the following words in his diary shortly before his death at the hands of Auca Indians in Ecuador, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
The same epitaph was hurled at another relatively young man who died prematurely and was buried in Egypt. His name: Oswald Chambers. In his youth Chambers showed such artistic talent that he was awarded several scholarships in art to universities in Europe. Chambers, to the chagrin of teachers and classmates, rejected them, choosing to study at a nondescript Bible school in Scotland where he taught and wrote for several years. Then, feeling what he described as the call of God in his life, Chambers went to Egypt as a military chaplain and died prematurely at the age of 37. Fully aware that friends and even family considered his career to be a waste, he wrote, “I am not many kinds of fools in one; I am only one kind of fool, the kind which believes and obeys God.”
Foolish, by definition, means lacking wisdom or understanding; and often a decision can be made in retrospect as to whether or not these who so invested their lives were wise or foolish. What some consider to be a wise investment of time and energy, in light of eternity is very foolish; and what some consider to be foolish is actually a wise investment.
Looking back over his life, sensing that he had missed God’s best, Saul, the first king of ancient Israel cried, “I have played the fool!” (1 Samuel 27:21, KJV). The man who had such great opportunities squandered them, and having come to the end of his life, looked back and realized, too late, that he had foolishly wasted his life.
Six words were found penned in the back of William Borden’s bible: “No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.” Can you say that about your life?
Resource Reading: Philippians 1
Text: I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:19-21
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – June 22, 2017