Could I Retrace My Life
By William Booth (1829 – 1912)
Now were the privilege of repeating my early career allotted me, I will tell you what I should do, could I go back once more to the beginning of my career and be assured that a long spell of vigorous life was before me. I should offer my life up, without a moment’s hesitation, on the altar of redeeming love. I should place myself – spirit, soul, and body – at the feet of Jesus Christ, ready and willing literally to live, suffer and die for Him.
But did I not do this many years ago? Certainly I did! When a lad of only fifteen years of age, I made this offering so far as my limited knowledge would allow. But if found in the circumstances I have imagined – with all the light that has, since those days, come into my soul through experience, observation and instruction in harmony with my consecration, and – I should make the same offering, only far more wholeheartedly than I did then. And having made the offering, I should at once proceed to act in that in the most thorough manner possible.
I should say, “Oh, my God, I am Thy son, Thy servant, Thy soldier. Henceforth let me do nothing and allow nothing in my heart or in my life but what is calculated to promote Thy interests on earth, the purpose for which I have been entrusted with my being. And then let me come up and reign with Thee forever and forever.” In pursuance of that object, I should resolve to be something that would count in strife between good and evil raging around me. No silly wasting of time, or strength, or faculties, or goods, or opportunities would satisfy me. All would be consecrated, all baptized with holy power, all made truly divine.
To further my design, I should be a man of sacrifice – I would accept a life of poverty, privation, and toil, as being my Heavenly Father’s way for me. And I should struggle until I attained that state of mind which would enable me to endure hardship without a murmur or complaint.
I should be a man of prayer – I should accustom myself to holding intercourse with heaven, until my spirit was ever communing with God, interceding for man, and crying for the Holy Ghost – that is until I prayed “without ceasing.” Oh, when I look back over the course I have traveled through the world, what a precious, invaluable privilege of prayer has been mine! Were I, while I write this, again standing on the threshold of my earthly life, whether long or short, I should at once start to pray. Indeed, I should pray in public and in private; yes, everywhere I should pray, until my every thought was a prayer.
I should be a man of holiness – a truly righteous man. Oh, if I were young again, with the prospect of a long life before me, I should surely say, “Oh, my God, my God, let me indeed and of truth be a holy man, that I may make men know what the Kingdom of heaven really is!”
I should be a man of compassion for human suffering – I should cultivate the spirit of sympathy with human distress wherever and whenever I might find men and women and children in sorrow, no matter whether their distress had been brought about by their own evil conduct or the evil conduct of others, or by some mischance for which they were not responsible.
I should be a man of faith. To that end I should cultivate the holy habit of trusting God. In season and out of season I should practice believing.
Under the most difficult conditions that could possibly befall me, I should accustom myself to a bold reliance on the protection and provision and direction of my loving Lord.
In every hour and in every place I should believe all the time that my Father’s arms were around me, that my Savior’s wings were over me, that the Spirit’s light was guiding me, and that all was going well and could not be other than well, both for earth and heaven.
I have given you only a very faint and imperfect idea of the manner in which I should deal with my life, had I the privilege of living it over again. Nevertheless, it is there, and to the realization of that standard I shall consecrate the remaining days of my advanced years. For all will agree that the service and devotion which I feel would be my duty at the commencement of my life must be equally my duty at its close.
Whether young or old, this, then, is my standard of love and duty, and my standard it shall continue to be until I utter my last word, and breathe my last breath on earth.
Will you not join me in this consecration? Long years may yet be your portion. The world may yet be before you: God is on your side.