No Reserves, No Retreats, No Regrets

Posted on September 13, 2014


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In closing his message on 2 Timothy 4:7, Pastor John MacArthur shared the following story about William Borden, heir of the Borden dairy fortune. I had never heard of Borden’s story before, but it greatly blessed me especially during this season of my life:

In 1904 a young man graduated from high school in Chicago, Illinois. He was a member of Moody Church and his pastor was R.A. Torrey. His name was William Borden, and if that sounds like a familiar name, it is because he was the heir to the Borden dairy fortune. He was worth millions even in 1904. For a high school graduation gift, his parents gave him a cruise around the world. He went to Hong Kong, went through all of Asia, even found himself in Egypt, toured through the Middle East, went across Europe visiting the capitals of Europe.

As he wrote home in the process the tone of his letters began to change. He began to accumulate an incredible burden and passion and compassion for lost people. He had seen millions of them without Christ. One letter said, “Mom, I believe God is calling me to be a missionary.” Another letter said, “I’m sure God is calling me, I’m going to give my life and prepare for the mission field.” That was not the family plan. He was the most gifted of all the children. He was the one that they desired to run the family business.

But after the cruise he returned home and he spent four years at Yale University preparing for the mission field. After that he went three years to seminary, further preparing for the mission field, seven years of training. During his time in college and seminary, he gave away his fortune. And as he was preparing to go to the mission field, he took his Bible, opened the back cover and wrote two words, “No reserves.” In other words, I have nothing but trust, I’ve given away all my reserves, I’m going in complete faith that God will supply my needs, no reserves.

He wanted to live by faith. He began to pray about where God would want him to go and his heart was moved toward China. So he decided that God had called him to China and particularly to a group of Muslims that were living in China. He announced to his family that he was going and that he would be leaving very soon.

Just prior to leaving his father became very ill. In fact, his father was near death. The family came to him and said, “You can’t go, we beg you to stay, you have to stay, you’re the only one who can run the family business.” By now, of course, these seven years had passed and he was a mature young man. They said, “We will give you your father’s office, we will give you all the money you want, whatever it takes.” They promised him cars and everything a young man could ever dream of. His brothers and sisters came to him and pleaded because they were all somewhat dependent on the continued success of the business. And in his biography it says that he said, “I can’t do it, my life is committed now.” And again he opened the flack of his Bible and wrote two more words, “No retreat.” No reserves, no retreat.

He said God has called me and I’m going. And he sailed for China. On the way going through the Mediterranean from the east coast to the United States he stopped in Egypt. He had been there before. And while he was in Egypt he contracted Cerebral Meningitis and was dead in one month. Never reached China, never reached a mission field, never became a missionary. All that preparation, all that effort and he died.

When they found his Bible after his death, they opened it again to that back flyleaf and this is what they found. “No reserves, no retreat,” and just before he died he wrote, “no regret…no regret.” He never got there but he lived his life to the maximum of dedication to the Christ he loved. And if that was to be the end, then that was God’s choice, no regrets. That’s the only way you want to end, isn’t it? With no regrets.

I pray it blessed you as well, dear reader, that you will strive to live in complete trust of our Lord Jesus Christ, boldly and faithfully serving Him, and never looking back on all you have forsaken for His Kingdom. May you live with no reserves, no retreats, and no regrets.

Posted in: Exhortation