Isobel Kuhn‘s writings have benefited me greatly. One of her books is called Second Mile People, in which she writes of several who have influenced her life in a major way. In Jesus’s instruction about going the second mile, she says, the first mile is compulsory, but the second is an offering “for the good and peace of His kingdom.” All of the people she writes of in this book have gone the extra mile and “have cried out, not ‘How much will He ask?’ but ‘How much can I give Him?’”
One such person is Dorothy. Isobel begins Dorothy’s chapter with this poem:
Not merely in the words you say,
Not only in your deeds confessed,
But in the most unconscious way
Is Christ expressed.
Is it a beatific smile,
A holy light upon your brow;
Oh no, I felt His Presence while
You laughed just now.
For me ‘twas not the truth you taught
To you so clear, to me still dim
But when you came to me you brought
A sense of Him.
And from your eyes He beckons me,
And from your heart His love is shed,
Til I lose sight of you and see
The Christ instead.
—by A. S. Wilson
Isobel then tells of meeting a young woman named Dorothy at a conference. Isobel had not been saved very long. “My ideas of the Christian life were still in a crude, unmoulded state.” Dorothy seemed attractive, winsome and sweet, and Isobel was pleased when Dorothy asked her to go for a walk. Dorothy had in mind to “speak just a word for Jesus” while on this walk, but as it happened, their conversation centered on happy, funny things. “When we parted Dorothy felt she had been a failure, unconscious that the one she had hoped to help was going away enchanted with this glimpse into the very human sweetness of this Christlike girl. ‘…I felt His Presence when you laughed just now….’ The Spirit-filled life cannot ‘fail’, it is fruitful even when it may seem least to have done anything. That walk gave Dorothy ‘influence’ over me when a ‘sermon’ would have created a permanent barrier. In fact at that time I carried a mental suit of armour all ready to slip on quietly the moment any ‘old fogey’ tried to ‘preach’ at me!”
“Oswald Chambers says, ‘The people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us and talk to us, but those who live their lives like the stars in heaven and the lilies of the field, perfectly simply and unaffectedly.’ A great mistake is to think that a Spirit-filled man or woman must always be casting sermons at people. Being ‘filled with the Spirit’ (which is a first qualification of Second Mile People) is merely a refusing of self and a taking by faith of the life of Christ as wrought in us by His Holy Spirit.” “We must take the Spirit’s fullness, as we take our salvation, by faith in God’s promise that He is given to us.”
Some weeks later when Dorothy and Isobel met again, Dorothy’s “time had come” to “get in a ‘preach,’” for Isobel then was in a frame of mind and heart to receive it. “The Holy Spirit is never too early and never too late.” Though Isobel did not understand as yet all Dorothy was trying to say, her words did lay the groundwork for future understanding, and “from Dorothy I just drank in the inspiration of herself, the ‘sense of Him’, and the fact that this life of undisturbed peace was no mystic dream but a possible reality who sat before me with earnest sweet eyes and soft pink cheeks.”
Neither Isobel nor I are talking about being a witness just by lifestyle and never using words. As she said, eventually Dorothy was able to talk to her more fully. Isobel spent her life sharing God’s Word with others and writing words of His doings in her heart and those He ministered to.
But I know what she means about people like Dorothy. I have known some people who seem to reflect Christ and carry a “sense of Him” in everything they do, every word, action, and attitude. Something of Him shines through even when they are talking about everyday activities. That only comes from spending much time with Him in His Word and prayer.
May I live so close to Him that people always sense His presence.