As a matter of fact, as I think back over the evidence of the Lord’s guidance in my own life, I feel ashamed that my faith is not a more radiant, contagious thing.”

Would you be able to say that if your father had died when you were four? If your stepfather had been a jealous alcoholic who made life so miserable you tried running away to sea at fourteen?

Peter Marshall, the man who wrote that line, was born a few miles from Glasgow in Scotland. As a boy, he was inspired not only by heroic tales of the sea but by the life of the missionary David Livingstone. Shortly after his stepfather kicked him out of his home, he offered himself for mission work in China.

Without financial support, he could not fulfill his educational requirements. But he had made a definite commitment to work full-time in the Lord’s service. He began taking night classes. It was hard. Sometimes he failed courses, having to work nine hours a day.

God led. A cousin urged him to go to the United States, assuring him he could expect greater opportunities there than in his native land. The cousin would pay Peter’s way. Peter prayed. For three weeks he pestered God about it. Then one day he knew God meant him to go.

In America, things proved tougher than he expected. He had to dig ditches. He had no friends. He had no church. Then God sent him an offer from Alabama. “Within the space of a few short weeks, I had joined the First Presbyterian Church, had been recommended by the Session as a candidate for the gospel ministry, had spoken at a prayer meeting, had been elected president of the young people’s league, had become interested in the Boy Scouts of that church, and had been asked to become the teacher of the Men’s Bible Class.”

God supplied the money for his education. He sent Peter to specific pastorates. The last of them was at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington.

His sermons so thrilled the Capital that hundreds of people had to be turned away from the church each Sunday. There was life in his words, because, as he expressed it, Jesus had tapped him on the shoulder and his life turned around.

On this day, January 4, 1947, the Senate appointed Peter Marshall to be their chaplain. Senators used to come early just to hear him pray. And this is how he prayed: “O Lord our God, even at this moment as we come blundering into Thy presence in prayer, we are haunted by memories of duties unperformed, promptings disobeyed, and beckonings ignored. Opportunities to be kind knocked on the door of our hearts and went weeping away…”

Marshall was chaplain for only a couple years. He died of a heart attack in 1949 at the age of just forty-five years.

Bibliography:

  1. Demaray, Donald E. Pulpit Giants; what made them great. Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1973.
  2. Marshall, Catherine. A Man Called Peter. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Chosen Books, 1998.
  3. Marshall, Peter. Mr. Jones, Meet the Master; sermons and prayers. New York, F. H. Revell, 1949.
  4. “Peter Marshall.” In Touch Ministries. http://www.intouch.org/myintouch/mighty/portraits/ peter_marshall_213703.html (accessed 2004).
  5. Petersen, William J. C. S. Lewis Had a Wife; Catherine Marshall Had a Husband. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House, 1986.

Information retrieved from Christianity.com.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

1577 – Execution by fire of Hans Bret, a young Anabaptist Protestant in Antwerp. He had been tortured for months in an attempt to force him to deny his faith but kept such a bold testimony his persecutors clamped and seared his tongue so that he could not preach to the crowd when taken to the stake.

1821 –  Mother Elizabeth Bayley Seton, the first native-born American canonized by the Catholic church; died. She had founded the American Sisters of Charity and was behind the present system of Catholic parochial schools.

1893 – End of a three-day conference of hundreds of mission workers in Bombay (the largest assembled there until that time). The delegates issue an urgent appeal for more missionaries and medical workers to conduct evangelistic work in India where the need is enormous.

1953The Catholic Hour airs for the first time over NBC television.

1965T. S. Eliot, the most influential English poet of the twentieth century, converted to Christianity and joined the Church of England; died in London, England.

Information retrieved from ChristianHistoryInstitute.org and Rhemalogy.com.

2 Comments »

  1. I loved reading A Man Called Peter by Catherine Marshall, and the movie in the 1950s was actually pretty decent in its staying true to the book.
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

    Like

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