No Reserve! No Retreat! No Regrets!

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The Borden family is remembered these days primarily for two things; the dairy enterprise that bears their name, and for the now famous daughter named Lizzy, who was accused (but not convicted) of killing both her mother and father.

But there was a much more famous Borden. His name was William.

William Borden was the son, also born into this family of wealth and prosperity.  He came to Christ under the preaching ministry of D.L. Moody.  For his high school graduation his parents gave him a trip around the world.  While on this trip he sensed God’s call to missions among the Muslims of the far east.

This met with considerable resistance from his family… his friends… and virtually everyone around him.  They couldn’t believe a person of his stature and station in life would “waste” it in a foreign country doing missions. Yet William would not be deterred from his call.  In the back of his Bible he wrote two words… “No Reserves.”

About the same time he wrote in his journal… “Say NO to self and YES to Jesus every time.”   Although he was a millionaire, William seemed to realize always that he must be about his Father’s business, and not wasting time in the pursuit of amusement.

Upon graduation from Yale, William turned down several lucrative job offers and studied at Princeton Seminary.  It was during this time he gave away all his inheritance to missions organizations… and upon finishing his studies he set sail for China to fulfill his call to missions.  He stopped in Cairo, Egypt to learn Arabic in preparation to evangelize Muslims in the far east.

While studying in Cairo, William contracted spinal meningitis. Within a month, 25-year-old William Borden was dead.   After his death, William Borden’s Bible was found and given to his parents. In it they found in one place the words “No Reserve” and a date placing the note shortly after he renounced his fortune in favor of missions.

At a later point, he had written “No Retreat,” dated shortly after he was diagnosed with meningitis. And then, right before he died, he added this phrase to his notes in his Bible: “No Regrets.”

William’s life has since inspired thousands of people to go into missions and collectively these lives have had more impact than any just one person could ever have had.  There is but one thing he wrote that has survived. It is titled, “What Does It Mean To Be A Christian?”  There were many lives he impacted while in college and seminary, but are literally thousands of others who were inspired by his story and who participated in the student missionary movement in the late 1800s.

The lives that William touched for Christ will only be known to him in eternity.  In memory of William, the Borden family donated funds to build the Borden Memorial Hospital in Lanzhou, Gansu, China. The point of his life was not driven by a desire to be famous, but faithful. William lived his life around God’s calling upon his life. His approach was simple, yet deeply impactful… “No Reserves… No Retreats… No Regrets.”

So, how are you doing and how is the life you are choosing to live?

Struggling with being too reserve in terms of going after what God has called you to do and be? Have you experience any since retreat lately, because the challenges and obstacles are too great? And in the end, will there be any regrets, as you look back on your life?

Although William’s story may be a familiar one to you… the focus of his life is not.  What would change in each of our lives if we were to live with… No Reserve! No Retreat! No Regrets!

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