Dr Johannes Tauler, a preacher in the 14th. Century, stepped out of his pulpit for 2 years as he realised he needed to die to self. Quite something.
The story: He was one of the most famous preachers of his day. His church in Strasbourg was packed out, but he stepped down. A man called Nicolaus of Basle had listened to him speaking on death to self but realised Dr. Tauler did not know that truth by personal experience. He challenged him: “ Dr. Tauler, before you can do your greatest work for God, this world and this city, you must die to yourself, your gifts, your popularity and even your own goodness, and when you have learned the full meaning of the cross, you will have new power with God and man. Get alone with God. Leave your crowded church, your admiring congregation, your hold on this city, go aside to your cell, be alone and you will know what I mean.”
Tauler, after initial anger, did just that. His friends thought he was mad. It took 2 years. There was public humiliation involved, but when he stood in the pulpit after the work of God was done, the power of God fell, and all over the congregation folk were thrown into a spiritual trance and met with Christ. Some were lying on the ground outside the church and had to be carried in out of the cold in case they fell ill!
Stories like that challenge me. I am not sure I always know how to respond to them, but they challenge me. There are other stories that are similar, though I cannot check precise details due to lack of books. Moody had an experience of God that changed the effectiveness of his preaching for example. He was originally angry that two women kept on coming to his meetings and said him on one occasion, they were praying for him be filled with the Holy Spirit. Praying John Hyde, I think, experienced something similar. On board a boat he opened a piece of paper that had been put into his hand at departure and read it. “We will not stop praying for you until you are filled with the Holy Spirit.” He was angry, and then realised his anger showed he was not filled with the Holy Spirit and cried it would be so. The results were asotnishing. On one occasion in a huge meeting he simply lifted his voice to heaven and said, “Oh heavenly Father” and the Spirit of God fell and through the whole gaterhing into a Holy Ghost commotion.
Do I believe that if God called me to a season of being alone with Him – it would have to be Him not me just copying someone else’s story – He would meet with me in a way that would result in more glory being brought to the Name of His Son? Nicolaus said to Tauler after the two years were up: “Now, thou art a preacher of the grace of God. Now one of they sermons will bring forth more fruit a hundred aforetime.”
Challenged, so challenged… when so much needs to be done, it is counterintuitive to take time out and go aside. When the need of the world creates so many opportunities, it is easy to hear and be obedient to the word “Go” from Christ and ignore and disobey His word, “Wait.”