Thrust Out Chapter 4

Busy, useful, aggressive in evangelism—but something was lacking in Mr. Gilbert’s life. He seemed to be up and down too often. He coveted the serene joy of Mr. Barnes as he taught the Mission Bible Class “Why can’t I know this same steady joy?”

One Sunday Mr. Barnes announced that Mr. Alfred Mace, a Bible teacher from England, was coming to town. He was the son of Gem Mace, a barefisted boxing champion in England, and was a giant of a man himself. Barnes said, “I heard him speak twenty years ago and learned from him to look away from myself to Christ in glory.” Mr. Gilbert thought, “This must be the secret.”

During Mr. Mace’s meetings Mr. Gilbert came faithfully and listened avidly. One night when the hall was filled Alfred Mace spoke on Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, hearing His words. Swept along by his message he shouted with a booming voice, “Brother, when did you hear His voice speaking to you?” It was like an arrow from God, piercing his heart, “Lord I’ve been doing a lot of things for you but I have never heard you say, ‘This is what I want you to do.’”

He left the meeting determined to hear God’s voice for himself. After supper each night he would sit quietly in his room with his Bible, asking God to speak to his own heart. He was hungry to know God intimately. One night he was asking God to help him in his projects for the Lord. A voice seemed to say, “Is this my way? You get all the jobs lined up and ask me to bless your projects. How about doing what I want you to do?”

Harold Harper and Arthur Rodgers were two young preachers who felt a concern for South America but were later led to stay in the United States. Both were T. B. Gilbert’s friends. One night after a street meeting they approached him and said, “Don’t you think God wants you out in the work preaching?” Mr. Gilbert replied, “No, I think the Lord knows there is plenty here for me to do.” He admired his father who was a businessman and elder in the local church. He liked his job as purchasing agent. His parents had recently purchased a new home and the family was happy together. In the Chicago area he had over fifty relatives and family ties were strong. He had no desire to leave Chicago, and there was a secret dread of giving himself to the Lord. He feared that God might ask him to go to China as a missionary. That seemed to be the end of the earth.

But the Lord gave him no peace about this holding back. One night the Presence of the risen Christ with pierced hands and feet seemed to fill his room. He cried from a torn heart, “Lord Jesus, you came all the way from heaven to die on the cross for me and I don’t want to go to China for you!” Bursting into tears he said, “Lord, I can’t hold back any longer! If you will go with me I’ll even go to China for you.” It was October, 1916 when he made this commitment. Peace and joy flooded his soul. The Lord’s presence and approval were very real. He found he was more relaxed in his witnessing, not so frantic in his efforts for God. He would often pray, “Lord, if you want me to talk to this man, give me the words and opportunity. Otherwise give me the grace to live as I should before him.” And the Lord blessed his witness more than before. All he wanted now was God’s will, completely, unreservedly. “Lord, I’ll go even to China!”

But the devil did not leave this young man alone. A fire at the packing house did much damage. As purchasing agent he had to list the losses and deal with the insurance people. His employer wanted him to list a vat as damaged which had not been hurt. It was the old game of milking the insurance company. His boss insisted he would take responsibility for it. But Mr. Gilbert’s conscience had no rest.

When the claim adjusters checked over the damages they approved the claims. Mr. Gilbert was distraught. Should he tell the adjuster? He felt it was a $200 overcharge. Not knowing peace about it, he went to see his boss again and told him he was a Christian and felt this claim was not honest. His employer said, “I am glad you have a conscience. I wish more of my employees did. But I think you should let me bear the responsibility of this report.”

Later, damage to a conveyor was discovered in the amount of $200. Mr. Gilbert was elated. It was the exact amount of their overcharge. He urged his boss not to report this loss and it would balance out the overcharge. The owner consented. Perhaps his conscience was protesting too, awakened by the zeal of his young purchasing agent.

Mr. Gilbert immediately phoned the insurance adjuster and told them of the damage to the conveyor. He also told of the overcharge which would cover it. The adjuster was pleased, and Mr. Gilbert was elated. Now his agitated conscience could relax.

But during this whole episode he was filled with doubts and fears that he had failed the Lord. Should he have been more bold in facing his boss? The devil seemed to hurl accusation after accusation at him. “Like Saul, you have rejected the Lord—rebellion is worse than witchcraft” (1 Sam. 15:23). “Like Esau you have been rejected” and Hebrews 12:17 came before him. “Mr. Gilbert, you’re a failure, God is through with you.”

His soul was in agony for several days. Finally as he sat in bed he cried, “Lord, I bring the blood of Jesus. It cleanses from all sin.” At that moment he felt the peace of forgiveness, the calm of heaven. He realized the devil had been sifting his soul, seeking to rob him of peace and happiness. He learned the truth afresh, “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knoweth all things” (1 John 3:20).

It was prayer meeting night and earlier he had not felt he should go. Now he wanted to go and saw that he had time to make it. As he entered the door a black brother from the West Indies was praying. Mr. Gilbert stood quietly by the door, heard his name mentioned and then the prayer, “Oh God, we believe you have laid your hand on this young brother and we ask you to bless him and to guide him.” He murmured quietly, “Thank you, Lord. You don’t know how much I needed that prayer, brother.”

Some time later he was much concerned to have guidance from the Lord for service. As he was reading, Luke 9:6 gripped his attention, “And they departed and went through the towns, preaching the Gospel…” Mr. Gilbert cried, “Lord, I promised you some months ago that I would go anywhere you want me to go. Lord, the only places on my heart are the towns of our country.” The missionary class had been studying Africa but he felt no call there. The only burden he could feel was for the towns of his own country. “Lord, now what shall I do? Some think you need to go to a Bible School or college. Give me words from your book and help me to understand your will.” Galatians 5:6 impressed him—“faith which works by love.” This was what he needed, faith and love.

“Lord, I haven’t much faith but I know if you send me, you’ll keep me. And you have given me love for these towns I didn’t have a year ago. But Lord, there is one other thing: I must quit my job. When am I to go?”

He was impressed with the need to go at once. “The time is now past.” Souls needed desperately to hear the Gospel. He was struck by the way Christ multiplied the five loaves and two fishes and fed over 5,000. This was exciting; he knew Christ could use him too, even though he might feel very inadequate. Later he read 2 Timothy 1:11— “Whereunto I am appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles.” This too confirmed God’s call to him. With Paul he was sure God had a work for him to do.

A few days later his assembly recommended him for the Lord’s work and committed him to God for guidance and blessing. It was a happy day for Mr. Gilbert. God’s people had confidence in him and he was sure of God’s call.

He approached his boss the next day and told him he was resigning. His employer asked him if more money would hold him. “No, not a million dollars!”

“Who is going to pay your way? Some church?”

“No, the Lord Jesus has called me. I am going to serve Him and He has promised to care for me and my needs.”

“I don’t understand it but I think you know what you are doing.”

Three months later (September, 1917) his replacement was trained. Mr. Gilbert picked up his last pay check, cleared his desk and said goodby to the others in the office. There was a lump in his throat as he went out the door. What lay ahead? God only knew. But he knew God and trusted Him. God had called him; he was sure of this. Life was exciting. “Lord, give me faith and love.”