G. Cupertino lives in Rome, Italy.

When he travels through cities and villages humming with activity, and sees the people absorbed by the pursuit of illusions and pleasures, the worker for God cannot help thinking of the heavy task that rests upon him: to warn these people, and do so as quickly as possible.

Then a host of feelings and ideas presses in upon his mind. His thought is influenced by what he sees, and he needs no less than help from above in order to free himself from certain fatal tendencies, among which are timidity and presumption.

These are two extremes. Timidity, which goes as far as fear, takes possession of the worker when he considers too long the human side of things and too little the divine side. That assault of timidity threatens us all, and it should be rejected energetically by a spirit of confidence in God. Otherwise it means defeat. It was because they had looked with their own eyes instead of with the eyes of God that the ten spies returned with the sad report: "The people . . . are stronger than we" (Num. 13:31).

We all risk the same danger. Before the power of men, their gold, their number, their organization, and their influence, we risk being submerged, losing from view the positive, that is, the divine side of our mission that which impelled Joshua and Caleb, animated by "another spirit" (Num. 14:24), to cry out, "Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it" (Num. 13:30).

In the New Testament, Paul gives us the same lesson. He points out that "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise" (1 Cor. 1:27). That has often been repeated during the course of history: the simple rod of Moses rises up against Pharaoh; in order to bring down the walls of Jericho, the strange and silent march of an unarmed people, accompanied by the ark, suffices; and to confront the Amalekite army of 135,000 with only 300 men armed with pitchers and lamps.

Other examples confirm that it is "not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 4:6). Thus we see that by the sling of a young shepherd the giant Goliath is brought down with one blow; that by a small number of youth in exile the honor of God is vindicated at the court of Babylon; and that one young man, dressed simply in a garment of camel's hair, proclaims the message of repentance on the eve of Jesus' ministry. Yes, "God hath chosen . . . base things of the world, and things which are despised, . . . yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are" (I Cor. 1:27, 28). When young workers, with out even possessing academic laurels, accept the call of God, profits by all opportunities to educate and instruct themselves, and by prayer and study become students of the Bible, they can advance with the firm assurance that they will carry off the victory. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and love, and of a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7).

The Danger of Self-Sufficiency

The other danger that lies in wait for us is presumption, or self-sufficiency. When we permit this tendency to control our life, we are surely on the road of defeat. At the time of the conquest of Ai someone said to Joshua, "Let not all the people go up; ... for they [the inhabitants] are but few" (Joshua 7:3). Let us emphasize, in passing, that this happened immediately after the great victory of Jericho. Thus it is easy, after a successful campaign, to forget that it is God who has given us the victory.

It is also easy to fall into an optimism that is no more than blindness. Yes, we must expel fear and make progress by faith. But we should also take into consideration reality, measure all the greatness of our mission, and humbly feel our smallness and the disproportion that exists between the work and the worker. That will not lead us into discouragement, but rather into a more intimate communion with the Source of all strength—God.

These conditions fulfilled, there will no longer be any limits to the great things that God can accomplish by means of men and women with their eyes open and their hearts firm. To timidity let us then oppose the steadfast faith of the believers; to presumption, humility of heart. Nothing less than that is necessary for balanced action. Instead of falling into the fire of enthusiasm today and sinking into the abyss of discouragement tomorrow, let us advance prudently but victoriously, without fear and without presumption. Them our progress will be sure, like "the path of the just. ... as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Prov. 4:18).

G. Cupertino lives in Rome, Italy.