September 30, 2014

Only One Life

by Nathan Busenitz

ctstuddThe year was 1860.

A lot happened in that year. In 1860, the Pony Express sent its first riders from Missouri to California. That same year, Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th President of the United States. And on December 20, 1860, South Carolina declared its secession from the union, setting events in motion that would culminate in the American Civil War.

It was in that same year, on December 2, 1860, that Charles Thomas Studd was born into a wealthy family in England.

Charles was a teenager when his father committed his life to Christ after attending an evangelistic meeting led by D. L. Moody. A short time later, at the age of 16, Charles himself came to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Charles would go on to Cambridge where he would become one of the most well-known cricket players of his day, famous not only in Britain but around the world. When his time at Cambridge ended, Charles realized that he did not want to pursue a career in athletics. As he said it,

What is all the fame and flattery worth . . . when a man comes to face eternity?

I know that cricket would not last, and honour would not last, and nothing in this world would last, but it [is] worthwhile living for the world to come.

How could I spend the best years of my life in living for the honours of this world, when thousands of souls are perishing every day?

Armed with an eternal perspective and motivated by a desire to serve Christ no matter the cost, Charles Thomas Studd (often referred to by his initials, C. T.) left England to serve as a missionary in China, under the oversight of Hudson Taylor.

C. T. Studd spent a decade in China, much of that time working in a rehabilitation center for opium addicts, sharing the gospel and seeing lives transformed by Christ. While in China, he also married his wife Priscilla, and together they had four daughters.

After spending a few years back in England, the family moved to India, where Charles served as a local church pastor for seven years. Though he struggled with severe asthma, often staying awake most of the night just trying to breath, he faithfully preached the gospel. And as a result, many souls in Southern India were won to the Lord.

Shortly thereafter, C. T. Studd became convinced that God wanted him to take the gospel to the innermost jungles of Africa. He eventually reached the Belgian Congo in 1913, though it was not easy. At one point, he contracted a severe case of malaria; on another occasion, he woke up in the morning to discover that a poisonous snake had been sleeping by his side all night long.

Along with his fellow missionaries, Studd established a number of missionary stations in the heart of Africa — bringing the gospel to tribes that had previously never heard the name of Jesus Christ. He wrote over 200 hymns, translated the New Testament into the native language, and witnessed thousands of African people turn to Christ.

C. T. Studd died in Africa, at the age of 70, having spent almost his entire adult life in missionary service: 10 years in China, 7 years in India, and roughly 20 years in Africa. Through his unwavering perseverance, a vast number of souls were reached with the good news of the gospel.

As one might imagine, that kind of pioneering missionary work was extremely taxing. But C. T. Studd’s response was simple and sincere. He said,

If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.

That undying commitment to serve Christ no matter the cost is perhaps best captured in the words of a poem he wrote. Perhaps you’ve heard these words before:

Two little lines I heard one day, Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgment seat;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Nathan Busenitz

Posts Twitter

Nathan serves on the pastoral staff of Grace Church and teaches theology at The Master's Seminary in Los Angeles.
  • Pingback: The Daily Discovery (September 30, 2014) - Entreating Favor()

  • Latayne C Scott

    Dear Nathan, I’ve had a plaque that says “Only one life–Twill soon be past, Only what’s done For Christ will last” since I was a young girl and loved it. I often wondered who the author of the poem was. Thank you so much for posting this.
    Latayne C. Scott

  • I thoroughly enjoyed this and as always, it is convicting. Oh that I could have a heart like that. The Lord is s l o w l y chipping away at my heart so that my understanding of how temporary this life is here, vs eternity to come, becomes more clear by the day. I live, not for this world and its’ accolades, but as my son tells his five children, “you are living to eternity….remember that in everything you do.” Thanks for the reminder!

  • JesusisLord

    I also love this quote…only one life… However I learned it this way, “Only one life will so be passed…Only what CHRIST does thru me will last.” Seems to fit with Gal. 2:20. Thanks for beautiful article.

  • vinas46

    Thanks for this article. Very encouraging.

  • Pingback: Only One Life | The Battle Cry()

  • tovlogos

    Amen, Nathan — “How could I spend the best years of my life in living for the honours of this world, when thousands of souls are perishing every day?”
    I tried to do both — serve the Lord with all my heart, and run a business. That didn’t work, they competed with each other. The Lord decided to put me in the hospital, at death’s door. My son, 8 years old at the time (who is now a young minister), memorized the entire chapter of 1Corinthians 13. He came one morning into my room and recited the entire chapter two inches away from my ear. During my delirium, I thought it was the Lord talking to me (actually it was). After that moment I awoke and recovered from my illness; left the business and gave the Lord all my time. Thanks for that thoughtful piece.


    • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

      Thanks for sharing that beautiful story, Mark.

      • tovlogos

        You warmed my heart. Thanks, sister.

  • Pingback: Missions Monday ~ 10-6-14 | Michelle Lesley()

  • Pingback: Kicking One off the Old ‘Bucket List’ | Coram Deo ~ The Blog()