The latest biography I read was that of Hudson Taylor - a man I'd never heard of until I was given this book as a gift.
For those, like me, who don't know, Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) was the founder of the China Inland Mission, a mission dedicated to evangelising China's inland, rural millions. This mission is now known as OMF International and has workers throughout south-east Asia.
So, what is Hudson Taylor's spiritual secret? It is how he learned to be content in all circumstances. And how did he learn this? It happened when he had returned to England for a while and spent a few days in Brighton, wrestling with the great need of more missionaries for China:
In great spiritual agony, I wandered out onto the sands alone. And there the Lord conquered my unbelief, and I surrendered myself to God for this service. I told Him that all the responsibility as to the issues and consequences must rest with Him; that as His servant it was mine to obey and to follow Him, His to direct, care for and guide me and those who might labour with me. Need I say that at once peace flowed into my burdened heart? (page 82)
Hudson Taylor is a fantastic example and encouragement of what it means to be content in all circumstances, to obey God and leave the consequences to Him. The man suffered so much in his life - twice widowed, lost several of his children to illness, had ill health himself, faced numerous hurdles to his ministry, including riots, slow growth of the ministry....but he never gave up. He kept praying and persevering in holding out the gospel of grace to the Chinese people, even dressing as a Chinese man in order to become all things to all people, despite some criticism from other missionaries.
The downside of this book is that it's quite boring. It's an inspiring story, but I found it such a hard slog to read because of the way it is written (it was first written in 1932, but later revised).
Still, I was left feeling both encouraged and rebuked.