Editor's note:

In Fear­ful­ly and Won­der­ful­ly, the book from which this excerpt comes, Philip Yancey writes in the first per­son voice of Dr. Paul Brand. 

Dr. Brand (1914 – 2003) grew up in India, stud­ied med­i­cine in Lon­don, and prac­ticed ortho­pe­dic surgery in India and the Unit­ed States. He achieved world renown for his inno­v­a­tive tech­niques in the treat­ment of lep­rosy. He wrote Clin­i­cal Mechan­ics of the Hand, still con­sid­ered a clas­sic in the field of hand surgery, as well as The Gift of Pain (coau­thored with Philip Yancey) and God’s For­ev­er Feast.

—Renovaré Team

Excerpt from Fearfully and Wonderfully

Mahat­ma Gand­hi, one of the busiest and most famous men in the world used to set aside Mon­day as a day of silence. He sched­uled no appoint­ments and said noth­ing all day. He need­ed the still­ness, he said, in order to rest his vocal cords and to pro­mote an inner har­mo­ny in his soul amid the tur­moil of life around him. I won­der what pow­er would be released if all Chris­tians devot­ed one day a week to lis­ten­ing to the voice of God in order to dis­cern the cod­ed mes­sage for our lives. The Coun­selor can only direct us if we tune in.

My Grand­moth­er Har­ris lived to age nine­ty-four, and I nev­er saw her walk unas­sist­ed. Poor health con­fined her either to bed or to Grand­mas chair” in a quaint room with lace cur­tains and dark, Vic­to­ri­an fur­ni­ture. My sis­ter and I would vis­it that room for about an hour or so each day. Of Huguenot descent, Grand­ma had us read the French Bible to her so that we could prac­tice the lan­guage and also learn the Bible by dis­cussing the pas­sage we had read. 

Grand­ma was bent and wrin­kled, and she suf­fered severe headaches. She rarely laughed and could nev­er com­pre­hend our jokes, yet her qui­et joy and peace some­how reached even us play-mind­ed chil­dren. We nev­er resent­ed our dai­ly vis­its to her room. She radi­at­ed love. 

When Grand­ma had trou­ble sleep­ing, she some­times lay awake half the night soft­ly recit­ing chap­ters from her store­house of mem­o­rized Scrip­ture and pray­ing for her eleven chil­dren and scores of grand­children. My aunts took turns sleep­ing in her room, and often in the mid­dle of the night Grand­ma would sud­den­ly call on them to write down her thoughts. She would say, I sense that Pas­tor Smith in Ipswich is in need of help just now. Please write to him like this ..She would then dic­tate a let­ter and ask my aunt to enclose a check. 

Days lat­er, when the mail brought a let­ter of reply, Grand­ma would beam with joy. Invari­ably, the let­ter expressed aston­ish­ment that she should have known the pre­cise tim­ing and amount of a need. She would laugh with a pure sense of inno­cent delight. We chil­dren mar­veled at the con­spir­a­cy of inti­ma­cy between God and Grandma. 

In the spir­i­tu­al Body, I pic­ture her as a nerve with­in the sym­pa­thet­ic ner­vous sys­tem, a sen­sor that God entrust­ed with the moment-by-­mo­ment respon­si­bil­i­ty of sens­ing need. Pas­tor Smith had sent cries for help to the Head. My grand­moth­er heard the trans­mit­ted impulse from the Head and sup­plied what­ev­er resources were needed. 

Grand­ma had pre­pared all her life for that behind-the-scenes role. In her youth she had phys­i­cal ener­gy and beau­ty. Dur­ing those busy years of rear­ing eleven new lives, despite con­stant demands on her sched­ule, she had tak­en the time to know God. She had sat­u­rat­ed her mind with the Word of God, stor­ing away in mem­o­ry whole books of the New Tes­tament, as well as all of the Psalms. Lat­er, when her body grew old and with­ered, she became a clear chan­nel for Gods grace. 

In the human body, a minute amount of the prop­er hor­mone can guide the trans­for­ma­tion nec­es­sary to pro­duce new life. In the spir­i­tu­al Body, the still, small voice of God, when heard and respond­ed to, can change a per­son, a com­mu­ni­ty, and per­haps a world. 

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Tak­en from Fear­ful­ly and Won­der­ful­ly by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey. Copy­right © 2019 by Philip Yancey and the Chil­dren of Paul and Mar­garet Brand. Used by per­mis­sion of Inter­Var­si­ty Press, P.O. Box 1400, Down­ers Grove, IL 60515 – 1426. www​.ivpress​.com

Originally published August 2019