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To my loyal readers:  Immediately following this journal page is a biography of David Livingstone.  In my library is the book by Henry Stanley that tells the story of his adventure in searching for and finding England’s most famous missionary and explorer who had vanished into the unknown African interior.  Both men’s adventures were equally sensational.  And the story of Livingstone’s return to England after his death is as rivoting as the story of his life....acg





Last Time in 2013


The New Year opens with a chorale of Christmas music from the Moody Church chorus and orchestra floating from my stereo.  Thoughts of the old year bring reminders of how I have coped with the handicaps common to our passage into the middle-upper years.  An incident of losing consciousness while in a public place because of out-of-control blood sugar brought with it the realization of limits.  Lessons of learning to manage insulin and controlling diabetes are with me each new day.  Three days in the hospital under an insulin drip caused me to realize that Romans 8:28 applies.  All things do work together for good....   There’s a purpose in life’s crucibles.  Sometimes, the handicap may be ill health and with it all the viruses, disease and discomfort that combine to dampen the spirit.  Perhaps it may be the work to which we are called for our livelihood, over which we have no control. Or the handicap may be a lack of social gifts, shyness, physical flaws, a broken heart of grief, an oppression brought through others selfishness, or living with wrong decisions made early in life which cause you to go through life with a broken wing.  Saint Paul had to live with many of those handicaps.  A striking passage from his autobiography informs us of the wisdom given him:  “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh.” [II Corinthians12:7]  Tradition tells us the man God chose to take the Gospel to the whole wide waiting world was a man undistinguished in stature, even ugly in appearance, often prostrated with bodily weakness, and sometimes quite desperately ill.  Some have thought he perhaps had epilepsy.  Others have surmised he may have had malaria or a debilitating eye disease.  Whatever, it was something recurring for which first century medical knowledge had no known cure.  It could have been diabetes, lupus, or leukemia, all diseases yet unknown at that time.  In the face of one besetting handicap, Paul’s imprint on the ages is unequalled only by the love of his life –Christ Jesus.  Wisely, the Holy Spirit guiding his writing left the mystery of Paul’s thorn unrevealed so that Christians through the centuries could identify their own thorns with his and take comfort in his words.  Paul tells us he prayed three times that this thorn would be removed from his life, but it didn’t go.  And yet his prayers were answered because God gave him a courageous spirit to match his pain.  God spoke to sustain his soul and spirit: “My grace is sufficient ....”

.........


Glowing Color

“I think these words:  My grace is sufficient for thee’, should be written in letters of gold and flame right across our life’s horizon.  For it is no abstract theology they give us, but life’s greatest, most practical theology.  Where would some of us be today if Christ’s grace hadn’t proved sufficient?  Can’t you remember some hour when you would most certainly broken down, if Christ hadn’t come in and given you just that added bit of strength you needed?...Or some heavy cross you had to carry, and you wouldn’t have carried it long, would just have sat down and wept beneath its weight, and nothing in yourself or anyone else would have held you to it or brought you through with honor –and then, at the critical moment, the marvel happened, and Christ somehow got into you, actually into your soul and body, and weakness, self-pity, self-consciousness, defeat, all fled before that mighty reinforcement?  My grace is sufficient for thee’ – bind that great word about your heart.” James S. Stewart in his book Walking With God


Winter Cove



First Coming


He did not wait till the world was ready,


till men and nations were at peace.


He came when the Heavens were unsteady,


and prisoners cried out for release.


He did not wait for the perfect time.


He came when the need was deep and great.


He dined with sinners in all their grime,


turned water into wine. He did not wait


till hearts were pure. In joy He came


to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.


To a world like ours, of anguished shame


He came, and His Light would not go out.


He came to a world which did not mesh,


to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.


In the mystery of the Word made Flesh


the Maker of the stars was born.


We cannot wait till the world is sane


to raise our songs with joyful voice,


for to share our grief, to touch our pain,


He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!


Madeleine L’Engle*



Dear Reader:  This biography is shared with the conviction that it will not be an imposition on your time.  Rather, you will find that reading it will enrich your soul and remind you that true greatness in living is grounded in faith, prayer, and service to others.  Our contemporary world has few equals. No wonder that when it came time to bring him home to England, his final resting place would be in Westminster Abbey....A. C. Gray

“Biographical sketches tell us that when David Livingstone walked into any university in the British Isles, students and faculty would rise to a standing ovation because they knew they were standing in the presence of a giant of a man.”        Ravi Zacharias

The Life of David Livingstone

Narrated biography by Ravi Zacharias in his sermon “A Fish out of Water.’

David Livingstone was born in Blantyre, Scotland in 1813. He was born into a home where his father used to put him on his knees and read to him stories of great missionary exploits, particularly that of Karl Gützlaff, the Dutch missionary who doubled up as a medical missionary too. Young David used to look into his father’s eyes and say, “You know, daddy, one day I’ll be a man like that. I want to be a missionary. I want to be a doctor. I want to serve God.”

David Livingstone got to his knees one day and said this prayer, “Lord, Send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. Sever any ties, but the ties that bind me to your service and to your heart,” and the words of God came to him “Lo, I am with you always, even to the very end of the age.”

He packed his bags and went off to Africa. And when he took one glimpse of Africa from a distance, he penned in his journal these words: “The haunting specter of the smoke of a thousand villages in the morning sun has burned within my heart.”

He married a woman of the famous Moffat Family – Mary was her name. Her father was a great missionary. They went to Africa. But David Livingstone’s life was that of an explorer and he would move from place to place and his only goal was Jesus in the hearts and lives of men and women – thousands of them.

Finally his wife and his young family couldn’t keep up with him anymore. Some of his children were dying out of sickness and disease so he said to his wife, “Mary, why don’t you take them home, and I will see you shortly and spend some time with you. It’s too dangerous for us to go on.”

So he sent his dear wife Mary back home and letters would take months to exchange, but some of the fondest letters of love and romance were sent between David and Mary and you know when he saw her the next time? Not five weeks. Not five months. Five years.

Five years later when he set eyes upon his wife, she could not recognize him because at one stage in his jungle travels going to preach he walked into a branch of a tree that had completely blinded him in one eye and marred the other. His face had been burned under the African sun to a crisp of leather and his skin, which had not been pigmented for it, had been roasted to the point that his body could not take it any longer. His face marred and scarred and his eye blinded and at one time he had been attacked by a lion that had torn one of his shoulders apart. He miraculously escaped.

Now she saw her husband hobbling in with a marred face and a disfigured physical countenance. Hours before he arrived, they had buried his father. David wept because he had longed to tell his dad firsthand of the stories his father had only told him third hand.

Finally he went back to his wife one day and he said, “Mary, the haunting specter of the smoke of a thousand villages in the morning sun is still burning within my heart. We need to go back.” She decided that he should go – she had to be with the children. She said, “When they are all old enough I will join you again, David.” And he set off on his lonely journey to preach to the African people who was so much within his heart.

Finally after a long time, Mary joined him and the day she set foot on African soil, she contracted a disease they had so dreaded she would contract. The very day she set foot on Africa, she got that disease and a few days later, he was burying her.

Lowered into the soil of the African earth there, an eyewitness said David Livingstone knelt beside the grave, weeping his heart out, and they overheard him praying, “My Jesus, my king, my life, my all, I again consecrate my life to thee. I shall place no value on anything I possess or in anything I may do except in relation to thy kingdom and to thy service.”

Through it all came the words of God to my heart, he said, “Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”

He picked up his belongings and walked back to his hometown village of Ujiji. When he arrived and went into his little home there, he found that someone had played a cruel joke on him and had stolen his medication that he so needed because his body was racked with pain, untold pain. He walked in constant agony. And they said in one of the very few points in his life, he prayed for himself, he got on his knees and said, “God, you promised you would always be with me! I need that medication if I am to continue preaching the gospel!”

As he prayed, he heard steps, and as the story goes, he saw a pair of feet planted in front of him and his countenance lifted for the first time in a long while – he was looking into the face of a white man who didn’t live in Africa. He said, “Who are you, sir?” And the man replied, “Doctor Livingstone, I presume?” (Those famous words) He said, “Yes, sir.”

“Mr. Livingstone, I’m a press reporter, I’ve been consigned to do a story on your life. I want you to know two things about me. Number one, I’m the biggest swaggering atheist on the face of the earth. Please don’t try to convert me. Number two, somebody sent some medication for you.”

David said, “Give me the medication please.”

So Mr. Henry M. Stanley started to travel with David Livingstone. Four months later, the biggest swaggering atheist on the face of the earth knelt down on African soil and gave his life to Jesus Christ.

One of the best biographies you’ll ever read on David Livingstone – two volumes entitled “Livingstone of Africa” by Henry M. Stanley. Stanley said, “The power of that Christ life was awesome and I had to buckle in. I could not hold out any longer.”

Finally his body began to shrivel with high temperatures and pain (they used to carry him around from village to village on a stretcher). One day, preaching from a stretcher, literally trembling, he finally looked at two of his national brothers and said, “Please take me back home. I am very very ill. I’m very tired, I need some sleep.” They brought him back to his home and were about to spill him on to the bed when he said, “No, please help me on to my knees.”

Livingstone buckled down to his knees by the side of his bed and clasped his hands and started to pray. His prayers were so profound, his sanctuary was so unique that his African brothers felt it was blasphemy to stay in his single union/communion with God and they stepped out of his little room.

Then somebody came running and said, “I need to see Mr. Livingstone for a moment.” They said, “Sshh! Quiet, please. He’s praying.” Five minutes went by, they looked in. He was still on his knees. Several minutes more went by, they looked in. He was still on his knees. After a protracted period of time went by, they looked in. He was still on his knees.

One of them felt that the man was too tired to continue to pray. He needed to get some sleep. He walked over to him and one of them shook him by the shoulders and inquired, “Wana? Wana?”

Livingstone fell over. He was dead.  He died exactly the way he had lived – in the presence of his Lord.

He didn’t run from His voice. He didn’t wave a lamp that had no light in it. He didn’t sell a soul for some earthly pleasure. But the haunting spectre of the smoke of a thousand villages had burned itself within his heart so that he could say, “My Jesus, my king, my life, my all, I again consecrate myself to thee.”

_________________________________________________

Other biographical info sourced from the internet:

 

David Livingstone died at Ilala southeast of Lake Bangweulu, located in Luapula Province in present day Zambia, on 1 May 1873 from malaria and internal bleeding caused by dysentery.

Even in death David Livingstone showed stubborn determination in the face of suffering, and also what others spoke of him coupled with loyalty of his servants whose long journey with his body inspired wonder. Through this he inspired abolitionists of slave trade, explorers and missionaries. This in return opened the heart of Africa to education and health for Africans. Over the years Africans have continued to hold him with high esteem for his faithfulness and dedication to his call. His name and legacy continues to linger in the mind of many and that is evident even on various institutions that have been named after him. His life stands as a clear picture of what Christians may imitate in their obedience to the call of God.

Britain wanted his body returned for a proper ceremony, but the superstitious tribe at first would not give his body to them. Finally they relented, but cut the heart out and put a note on the body that said, "You can have his body, but his heart belongs in Africa!" Livingstone's heart was buried under a Mvula [wild fruit] tree near the spot where he died. Loyal attendants Chuma and Susi carried his body, together with his journal, over a thousand miles wrapped in sailcloth and in a bark cylinder to Africa’s coast city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. From there the great man’s remains were brought by ship to England for a state burial at Westminster Abbey on April 18, 1874.

Postscript....A. C. Gray

Blantyre, the present capital of Malawi, formerly known as Nyasaland in what was before that British Rhodesia, is named after Dr. Livingstone’s birthplace in Scotland. As a Peace Corps diplomat my travels took me to Llongwe, Malawi.  The Malawians were insistent on informing me of their immense pride in naming their capital city in his honor and letting me know that Dr. Livingstone had brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to their country too.