By: Jenni Walker
“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:14–15)
“How long is His love? Without end or beginning, eternal as Christ and His life it must be. For, to everlasting as from everlasting, He loveth the world and He loveth me.” (Annie Johnson Flint)
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Obeying the Great Commission to “go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19) should be intentional and lived out daily; yet, it does not have to be as hard or intimidating as we can sometimes make it out to be. Living it out begins with our own personal relationship with the Lord and His work in our hearts. We are called to follow Him in all things and remember that our lives on this earth are lived in light of eternity. Ultimately, He is the One at work in us and who gives us the desire to make an impact in this world for Christ (Philippians 2:13)! Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
What beautifully anchoring truth in light of God’s work in our own hearts, His body, and in this earth! Our Lord always leads us in triumph, and the good news of the gospel is our unwavering hope. Yet…we live in fallen world with loss and pain, and where “compassion fatigue” and weary souls are realities that must be faced and navigated. Yes, we are called to live in light of eternity with Jesus, but the needs of this world and even of those close to us can at times seem daunting.
Ladies, we often have times where we do not see the immediate results or even long-term fruit for God’s kingdom from our own labors. But never lose heart in following your Lord and Savior. Being a wholehearted woman is not merely an inspiring phrase – living it matters in eternity! 1 Corinthians 15:58 is a promise to inspire our hearts, spur us to action, and provide us with the eternal assurance that God is always at work in and through us: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Annie Johnson Flint knew this well. She was a mighty woman of God born in 1866, whose poetry and hymns have been read, sung, and referenced in homes, churches, and by world-renowned ministers of the gospel today such as Ravi Zacharias. Her daily decisions all had one focus: following her Lord. His love consumed her, and as such, it also compelled her to live out the Great Commission powerfully through publications of her poetic and gospel-centered prose.
Yet, she could have easily become discouraged. Annie’s heart was pulsing with the life of Christ, yet her body throughout her life was a different story. Shortly after finishing her schooling, she developed crippling arthritis early in her adulthood:
“In her condition, she began to write poems with a pen pushed through her bent fingers resulting from swollen joints…A number of magazines and Christian periodicals began publishing her poems and other things she had written. Many notes came to her giving testimony of the blessings received from her work…She recognized that though she was crippled, God still had something for her to do.”
Annie’s condition worsened over the years, yet she remained “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” She was a student of Scripture, she stayed in connection with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and she did not allow her own suffering to become the primary determinate of her life’s course. She basked in her Lord’s deep, unwavering love, and she herself became a conduit of His eternal love and grace to many others. Her heart longed for others to know Jesus personally as their Lord and Savior, writing:
For it is not enough for our faith
That others have seen and known Him;
But each for himself must see,
And each for himself must own Him;
And each must touch the print of the nails,
The proof of His claim receiving.
And each must cry, ‘My Lord, my God,’
And fall at His feet, believing.
Annie’s life ended up on a course she never anticipated. But she relentlessly trusted that God “always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14). (He always leads!) She took seriously the Great Commission of her Lord and depended on Him to live out the realities of being “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,” doing it all in His grace and strength. (There is that word again – always abounding!)
As we close, consider the words of Annie Johnson Flint’s most widely-known hymn entitled, “He Giveth More Grace”:
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
Dear wholehearted woman, no matter where God has placed you, the roles He has called you to, or the season you are in, He ALWAYS leads us and helps us abound in the work of the Lord as we respond to HIM!
Time to Reflect
1. Take some time to reflect honestly about today’s devotion topic. What is the Holy Spirit ministering to your heart?
2. Revisit today’s Scripture passages. What do these verses teach us about Jesus? How do they change things? (i.e. The way that we live? What we live for? Our experience of God?)
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This devotion contains excerpts from The Wholehearted Woman: Who She is and Why She Matters by Beth Doohan & Jenni Walker.
To learn more about Annie Johnson Flint, we suggest “The Making of the Beautiful” by Roland Bingham. You can also learn more here: https://www.proclaimanddefend.org/2018/01/23/annie-johnson-flint/.