Emergencies come in spiritual matters, too. They are the hardest kind to meet. It is hardest to make people see them and grip them. In the life of many a church a spiritual emergency has come, but has not been met. The church goes on holding services, raising money and paying it out, going through all the proper forms, but with the life itself quite gone out of it. The thing is being kept in motion by a humanly manipulated electric current; there is no free life-movement.
Evangelistic leaders say that such emergencies come in their campaigning. There has to be a struggle of spirit forces. And the victory that comes, comes only as a result of close hand-to-hand conflict of soul by the leaders.
We all know that such crises come in our personal experience. And those who know about changing things by prayer do not need to be told of the emergency that comes at times; nor of how it requires a tightening of all the buckles, a new reviewing of the promises on which prayer rests, a new steadying of one's faith, a quietly persistent hanging on, an intenser insistence of spirit in prayer and more arrow-praying in the daily round of work—sending out the softly breathed heart-pleadings while busy with common duties, until the assurance comes that the danger is past and the victory secure.
It is remarkable to what an extent the great events of history have been emergency events. With the greatest reverence, it can be said that history's central event, the dying of Jesus, was an emergency action. Even though we understand clearly that it was known and counselled from before the foundation of the world, that He was to shed His precious blood for our salvation, His dying can never be fully understood save as a great emergency measure, the great emergency measure, because of the crisis made by sin.
Now that is the sort of thing—an emergency—that is now on in this great task of world-wide evangelization which Jesus has committed to our hands. Some of you may be strongly inclined to lift your eyebrows and ask—Is there really any such emergency? I know that people don't like those words "crisis" and "emergency." It is much more comfortable think that things are going on very smoothly and well. Even though all is not just as we might choose to have it, yet we like to think that it will turn out well. There is a sort of optimism that is very popular. Things will all come out right somehow, we like to think. But the fact is that things don't turn out right of themselves. They have to be turned by somebody who gives heart and life to the turning.
It can be said with sane, sober sense that without doubt there is an emergency, and a great one, in this foreign-mission enterprise. It is, of course, true that in a sense there is a continual emergency here. There are thousands of these foreign brothers of ours slipping the tether of life daily. The light might easily have been taken to them, and have changed their choices. But then it hasn't been, and the dark shadow of the possibility of their separating themselves forever from God, through wrong choice persisted in, hangs down over each one of them. There can be no darker shadow except the actual knowledge that they have so separated themselves from life in Him.